For large-scale advertising, television has long been the dominant medium. But despite its popularity and effectiveness, advertisers have always had limited visibility into exactly who their ads were being shown to on TV. They could get an idea of their audience based on the program during which the ad was shown, but they never actually knew for sure.
Imagine this for just a moment though. What if, as an advertiser, you could have a camera looking out from every television in America that would allow you to see exactly who was viewing your ads? I’d be willing to wager that you’d jump on the opportunity. So what if I told you that you actually can do this—on mobile? The scenario described above may be a pipe dream when it comes to television advertising, but it’s close to reality when it comes to mobile advertising.
Mobile is the most precise medium advertisers have ever had to connect with consumers. The accuracy and granularity of data available on mobile is unmatched. Coupled with the fact that consumers now spend more time on mobile than any other medium (including television), the mobile advantage is crystal clear.
Why is mobile so powerful?
There are two primary reasons. The habitual, constant use of mobile is one. In fact, 52 percent of smartphone owners check their device a few times an hour or more, which isn’t that surprising considering that more than 80 percent of Americans keep their smartphone on them or near them at all times.
The second is the precision targeting opportunity mobile offers. Each person has their own individual device, and each individual device has its own mobile ID. These IDs, specifically Apple’s IDFA and Google’s Advertising ID, provide a much more reliable tracking method than the cookies that are predominantly used on the desktop. Since each device has its own unique ID, advertisers have all the opportunity in the world to reach the right audience with the right message at the right time—more effectively than ever before.
Mobile IDs not only allow advertisers to more accurately collect data, they also make it much easier to combine a variety of different data sources and match them all back to the same user to create a rich and robust audience profile. This data includes first-party, behavioral, and third-party data.
First-party data is an advertiser’s own data about their existing users. It can include IP addresses, email addresses, or mobile IDs of people who have previously interacted with a given brand. Behavioral data, meanwhile, is collected by companies that specialize in mobile advertising, and is based on mobile behaviors like what apps a user has downloaded and is prone to using. Finally, third-party data comes from providers such as Neustar, Exelate, and Experian. This type of data can include demographic information like age, gender, household income, and more.
Putting that data to work
With all this available data, there are a number of different ways advertisers can create audiences who they’re fairly certain will be profitable in the long run.
One of the most powerful applications of data is in the creation of personas, pre-defined groups of users that share some key characteristics. The main advantage for using personas is that you’re starting with a group of users whose characteristics or behaviors give you a pretty good indication they’ll want to engage with your app or brand. Examples of this include Millennials, sports enthusiasts, travelers, and frequent shoppers.
Lookalike audiences, on the other hand, are a great way to take advantage of data on existing users and use it to find new users who are similar, and thus, also likely to be interested in your brand. Facebook and Twitter are perhaps the most well-known networks that offers this type of lookalike creation.
Finally, the more you know about someone, the more you can accurately target them with exactly the right message, which is why combining multiple characteristics from different data sources is a great way to create precise audiences. For instance, you could build an audience of users in Boston who have opened your app at least 10 times and made a purchase within the last 30 days. Or, you could build an audience of users who are male Millennials in NYC, and show them an ad that appeals exactly to them. By combining data in creative ways, you can ensure that you’re reaching the right users right from the start.
That all said, the great thing about targeting audiences on mobile is that it’s not a one-time event. To really be successful, you should be thinking about long-term audience engagement throughout the customer journey—and those mobile IDs make it possible over the long-term. As users move from awareness through to interaction and then loyalty, you need to be customizing your continued interactions with them. By doing things like continually refreshing your audiences to ensure the right people are always in the right segments, and tailoring your creative to each of those segments, you’ll be able to improve the effectiveness and performance of your campaigns.
This concept of engaging audiences throughout the customer journey is nothing new, but doing so on mobile provides more options and better results. The sheer amount of data available on mobile makes this strategy extremely effective. And, as more and more data becomes available, marketers will continue to be able to refine their audience targeting on mobile to drive their desired results and engage their audiences, no matter what stage of the journey they’re in.
Craig Palli is the chief strategy officer of Fiksu, a data-fueled mobile marketing technology company.
Image courtesy of Shutterstock.