There’s a reason Procter & Gamble is pumping the brakes on its Facebook targeting efforts. And it’s no coincidence that Y&R’s CEO contends it’s time to rethink ad targeting. While targeting is a valuable tool for marketers, its lack of context and accuracy annoys consumers to the point where they’re opting out of ads altogether, and the industry is taking note.
For most brands, targeting should not be a primary focus. That’s because a hyper-targeted audience is not necessarily the correct audience much of the time. Instead, marketers and buyers should be thinking about audience quality.
The correct audience has fidelity. They’re not reached by just demographic identifiers or tracking cookies but by messaging that’s personal, in-context and highly relevant to their needs and emotions.
By contrast, much of the low-fidelity targeting based on cookies, panel data and device IDs in market today creates a blurred perception of your audience at best. For example, you might think you’re retargeting ads to a woman who browsed your site for high heels, but it’s just as likely you’re bombarding her husband with discounts for pumps. In another scenario, millennials might be your target, but some millennials are bankers with two kids and a house, while others just up and moved to Colorado to work in a tackle shop.
If you serve these two different consumers the same ad, you’re giving both a bad experience. It’s no wonder over 40 million of them have turned on ad blockers.
This doesn’t mean we have to abandon programmatic tools and targeting. But instead of simply toggling a switch to target an audience, brands and buyers need to do the upstream work to ensure the accuracy, relevance and potential receptivity of that audience to a message are spot on. They need to use high-fidelity, people-based data to better inform their creative, their content planning, audience creation and the dynamic ad and content decisions that occur across the consumer journey. That means the consumer’s experience begins with relevant awareness, interest and action that carries through to landing pages, emails and offers consumers get after clicking an ad.
This is not a fantasy. Merkle’s Publisher Addressable Marketplaces, aka PAM, lets advertisers match their CRM data on an individual level with extensive audience information provided by Merkle as well as premium publishers, including Pandora, Realtor.com and LiveIntent. Informed by this extensive data, and linked together by a person level ID, clients can build compelling, personalized ads that get served against the publishers’ most desirable content—to exactly the right people. Consumers get a vastly better ad experience.
The result of high-fidelity audiences and targeting models that are built on rich, person-level data sources is the ability to execute brand and creative planning that is much more informed, not to mention more engaging—Merkle’s PAM clients are seeing 30 percent increases in engagement and conversion rates. Fidelity makes it possible to better leverage CRM and wider PII-based matching and targeting across a growing number of digital media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, Google and YouTube. And as addressable video and TV buying accelerates, we also see this model as a competitive advantage.
High-fidelity advertising is no simple task. It requires organizations to seriously reconsider their strategy as well as their technology. CMOs need to unite their disparate data groups, bringing together CRM with communications, media strategy and planning. But the effort is worth it. Done right, advertisers can execute more precise, influential campaigns, and publishers can enjoy greater monetization of their premium inventory. You just have to unlock the data and stay focused on people, not proxies.