Advertisers often feel their brand is their most valuable asset and spend lots of time, effort and money to build and maintain it. Of course an advertiser would know their audience, right? Right, but the real question is if an advertiser knows who its online customer is. If an advertiser is defining its audience based on direct mail, focus groups and other traditional forms of research, is it right to assume this audience profile mirror the attributes of an online customer? Chances are some intuitive characteristics match, but it’s possible that some attributes are different.
One of the attractive benefits of the exchanges for brand advertisers is the ability to identify and target specific audiences through data. Now, we use an overlap report with a third-party data provider to identify key segments which closely align with site converters or visitors, then target these users within the exchange landscape. Although data says they should, these mid-funnel users may or may not align with the advertiser’s perception of who their target is. It gets a little dicey when perception and quantitative data don’t align.
For example, a retailer may think their target is 21-26 year old females in urban areas, when in reality, data overlap indicates their true online target is teenage females in the Midwest. The advertiser may not want to target these users, but alternatively, if they only focus on targeting their perceived audience, they may limit the opportunity for mid to top funnel branding and awareness efforts. All of the sudden we have a lot of data that is actionable, but we need to identify the smart ways to leverage it--without stepping on the advertiser’s toes and still reaching the right audience.
Online data provides a perpetual focus group of how people interact and think about brands and products, so why don’t advertisers use it to at least verify what they already know? If someone outside the core audience buys a product, are they not the brand’s customer too? There is opportunity to make advertisers that much smarter about their audience and customers. Some are relying on old ways of measuring and buying because it’s all they had before! Advertisers that can reconcile current beliefs about their audience, with new data-driven insights will truly seize the opportunity in this new market.