To Remain Relevant, Advertisers Need to Reimagine Audiences

Lin, director of client strategy and insights, Aki Technologies

Data-Driven Thinking” is written by members of the media community and contains fresh ideas on the digital revolution in media.

Today’s column is written by Melody Lin, director of client strategy and insights at Aki Technologies.

Advertisers assume they know their audiences, because grouping people into buckets is convenient.

Gamers like Doritos and caffeinated sodas, right? Retired folks are tech-challenged and none-too-hip. Only the uber rich buy Madison Avenue brands.

To be fair, this type of demographic, psychographic and behavioral segmentation can be useful for effective targeting. 

But such thinking is also limiting. Audience segments are not always as they seem. Advertisers need to strive to understand audiences on a more personal level – and include those who feel advertising campaigns often aren’t relevant to them. 

Advertisers can avoid the pitfalls that result from narrow thinking, such as leaving people out of certain groups or assuming that certain groups wouldn’t buy particular products.

Let’s look at a few examples of audiences that advertisers need to rethink and how brands should approach them.

Mobile gamers are diverse – and premium

For some, “gaming” still conjures an image of male teenagers holed up in their parents’ basements spending countless hours on their Xbox consoles. But this is short-sighted. 

Mobile games are expected to reach $180 billion in revenue in 2021, per Statistica – and the community is far more diverse and promising for advertisers than some might realize. 

During the pandemic, new types of gamers emerged. Mobile gamers now include seniors playing word search games on their phone as well as children playing Pokémon GO on a tablet. According to Newzoo, one-third of US gamers are Black, Hispanic or Asian and 65% of US females between the ages 10 and 65 play mobile games.

Mobile gamers are often also more receptive to new advertising content and experiences than the average consumer – especially if in-app rewards are on offer. The majority (79%) of mobile developers using a mix of ads and in-app purchases say that rewarded video is their most effective format, according to a Walnut Unlimited study. Additionally, 53% of developers believe rewarded video drives in-app purchases.

When approaching mobile gamers, static banner ads generally don’t do enough to grab attention. Videos with a visually compelling opening and a simple call to action spark interest and engagement.

With that in mind, be aware, inclusive and mindful messaging will go a long way in making sure all demographics feel included and recognized.

Less affluent consumers like nice things, too

Contrary to what some might think, low-income consumers tend to spend a higher percentage of their budget  – up to 40%, per – on luxury items and services than higher-income Americans. Many feel the pressure to appear wealthier than they are to advance their social status.

Yet, less than one-fifth of consumers making under $31,000 a year feel they receive personalized advertising, according to

Keep in mind: Not all low-income consumers are the same. Graduate students living in the city are in a different stage of life than a middle-aged factory worker with a family in the suburbs. Advertisers must focus on the unique experiences that draw individuals to their brand rather than income level alone.

High-end brands in particular need to carefully consider how to approach this group. Clear, concise and to-the-point messaging is key in order to attract consumers who carefully consider the cost and value of nearly every purchase they make.

If you do this right, the rewards are waiting. According to IXI Services, consumers making less than $100,000 find mobile advertisements much more entertaining and informative than do consumers with a higher income.

Modern seniors are living their best life

AARP members do not feel they’re in their final days – far from it. In fact, 60 is the new 40. People with empty nests tend to have more money and time to spend. Those over 55 control nearly 70% of the nation’s wealth.

Ninety-one percent of active adults over 55 own smartphones, while 70% are avid users of technology on a daily basis, according to Age of Majority. Connected TV, travel sites, news outlets, healthcare apps and mobile game apps – remember, games aren’t just for gamers anymore – are all worthwhile media buys for this demographic. 

Advertisers can demonstrate how their brands invigorate retired consumers, particularly in pursuit of personal well-being, fulfillment and happiness. It’s heartening to see some advertisers, such as CoverGirl, bucking the ageist trend and using older models like Maye Musk to promote products. In another example, the marketing copy for Nike’s CruzrOne sneaker is aimed at older folks and yet never once mentions age, as The New York Times recently pointed out.

Rethinking audiences might seem like a formidable task – but that’s what it will take for advertisers to break through the stereotypes that likely aren’t helping them reach the right people in any case.

It’s time for brands to discard their overly simplistic preconceptions and misconceptions so they can serve their audiences with the right ads in the right way. 

Follow Aki Technologies (@akiunlocks) and AdExchanger (@adexchanger) on Twitter.

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1 Comment

  1. Understanding audiences and behavior is much easier when there is a value exchange beyond “targeted ads” — data unions providing rewards in exchange for consumer demographics and browsing behavior are the path forward. Good-bye 3pd, device mapping and other opaque practices.