Targeted Marketing – To Infinity and Beyond

On a fairly regular basis, I hear marketers lament the challenge of finding more profitable customers. Ultimately, this boils down to a lot of different decisions, but core to finding more profitable customers is better targeting. Targeting allows marketers to shift from broad reach impressions to more pointed impressions, offers, and messaging that support better decisions about who (specifically, target a high potential value prospect and ignore then one that is likely to churn) and what (personalized content).

As marketers, it used to be that the only media we could really target well were precision media, such as direct mail, and then email when that arrived on the scene in the 90’s. Both direct mail and email allow us to target at the individual level.

As a result, predictive analytics have become powerful tools in optimizing spend in these types of media. Whether analytics are used to identify prospects that look like good customers, or to filter leads who are most likely to engage with sales via phone, or to toggle your email decisions accounting for who might opt out of they get ONE MORE email from you, predictive analytics are an important resource to inform sales and marketing decisions.

However, over the past decade we’ve seen a number of other media mature as it relates to our ability to target and leverage data science to optimize the decision to both serve an impression and with what message.

In a lot of different media the old approach leveraged summary demographics stats (remember “data cards”???) to help advertisers align where they should be spending. While this practice hasn’t completely disappeared, it is increasingly being replaced with more accurate means of finding a match. At the same time, technology has allowed advertisers to select and make decisions in much smaller increments.

Here are just a few advances that you should be taking advantage of:

Print: Yes, people still buy paper magazines and advertisers still spend here (about 24% of spend in 2013 was allocated to newspaper and magazine advertising according to AdAge). While I suspect data cards are still in the mix, advances in printing technologies allow for better than all-or-nothing advertising decisions. In addition, because a lot of print is subscription-based and addressable, we may know exactly who subscribes. This allows for any half decent data scientist to tell you, with accuracy far outpacing a data card, whether the profile of a subscription base aligns well to your existing high value customer base.

Display: Americans spend over 300 minutes a day engaging with digital devices. With expanding ad networks and targeting platforms coupled with more database marketing back end tools like the data management platform (DMP), our ability to choose our digital audience and personalize what they see based on data and behavior is expanding rapidly. Still not on par with the techniques used in more traditional media like direct mail, online display and video has come a long way. Ad serving decisions based on characteristics of a user or device are now possible making targeting much more precise. In addition, the volumes of data and big data platforms make it a prime candidate for using predictive analytics.

Television: TV advertising still captures the most spend across all advertisers, hovering around 38%. The technology is still evolving but essentially, as with print, many consumers subscribe to service provided by a cable or satellite TV company. That information coupled with set top box data opens up the door for even more relevant ad placement than advertising in a particular channel or daypart will allow.

So what?

Ultimately, as consumers, while privacy is always a concern, the option to have more relevant ads is appealing. For advertisers, more targeted advertising allows us to get our impressions in front of those who are more likely to be new or repeat customers and, better yet, those more likely to be more profitable customers. It is important to note, however, that increased targeting often comes at an added cost, making attention to ROI a critical piece. Just because an impression is more targeted and presumably more relevant, it does not mean it’s always more cost effective.

Data science and predictive analytics play a key role across these evolving medias as well as traditional tactics. Improving your targeting by taking advantage of both data science and the advances in technology and targeting within these maturing media types is worth exploring if you’re not already doing so.