Lina Adelt
Lina Adelt 18 August 2023

One Size Does Not Fit All - How to Get Effective Targeting Right

Advertising should never take a one-size-fits-all approach but campaign messaging and targeting needs to be ever more carefully considered. Brands must seek to work with players who can provide privacy-first, precision targeting if they want to secure not just sales, but also their brand credibility.

Effective targeting is the dream underpinning programmatic ad tech. Getting the right ads, in front of the right people, at the right time is a win-win-win situation.

Publishers can charge more per impression, advertisers can achieve a better return on investment, and most importantly, consumers are better served by seeing ads for brands and products that genuinely meet their interests, needs and circumstances.

The digital media ecosystem has made great strides from the early days of rudimentary targeting, when the online user experience was often defined by a sense of being bombarded by certain ads or crudely profiled on the basis of inadequate data.

But, as tech has evolved and publishers, ad tech companies and advertisers have upped their game, consumer expectations have risen in tandem.

And that creates a dangerous situation for our industry, at a time when the world is struggling through a stack of interconnected crises, from the ongoing consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic to the war in Ukraine and the cost of living crisis.

One Size Does Not Fit All

First and foremost, the cost of living crisis continues to have a profound effect on both people’s day-to-day lives and their expectations of the future, not least in the UK, where the most recent rate of inflation published by the Office for National Statistics remained unchanged at 8.7%.

As a result of surging prices over the last two years, especially in food and energy, almost two in five UK (37.6%) consumers are not coping with their current salaries, according to the latest IPA Touchpoints survey released last month.

It has always been the case that, for example, advertising luxury holidays to someone on a limited budget will appear tone deaf. But with research this year by PwC finding that just 29% of consumers consider their financial situation to be ‘healthy’, the potential for reputational damage is greater than ever before.

Indeed, for the majority of people who are struggling or just getting by, seeing ads for products out of their financial reach could suggest a complete lack of understanding of the reality of their circumstances.

Therefore, for advertisers and publishers alike, it’s never been more important that campaigns contain responsible messaging targeted to appropriate consumers, who will be open to their ads.

Simultaneously, however, there is increasing pressure from consumers on more sustainability. Advertisers therefore need to figure out a way to both drive better outcome based activity as well as doing so more effectively to meet their sustainability goals. 

So, is there a way brands can still reach the right audiences to help boost sales in these challenging times?

Precise, Privacy-First Targeting

The short answer is yes, but it’s time for advertisers to overhaul their strategies. Luckily, with the industry needing to shift to privacy safe targeting solutions, the rise of AI has opened the door to advertisers being able to connect with audiences through advanced context. 

AI technology is now also able to focus on semantics at a deeper level, rather than just relying on keywords to target relevant audiences. It allows advertisers to target highly specific web pages about industry-specific topics and competing brands.

This approach provides the strongest match between a publisher’s inventory and an advertiser’s objectives, boosting cost effectiveness and cutting the risk of reputational harm.

What’s more, advertisers are able to use AI-powered solutions to retarget audiences through probabilistic insights which by grouping devices anonymously enables marketers to reach the right audiences, without the need for cookies. This can then be supplemented with first party data to further enhance audience targeting.  

Lowering Carbon Emissions

Luckily, by streamlining internal processes, these solutions can also deliver better outcomes for advertisers, whilst lowering the industry’s carbon impact.

For example, technology can reduce traffic through smart throttling, which reduces computing power and increases ROI for programmatic buyers and sellers. It can also filter out low performing inventory whilst reducing and optimising the path between demand and supply.

Further, by working with partners that can be closer to both buyers and sellers means data can be collected directly, avoiding the need to constantly request information for each bid request from third parties.

This approach also leads to fewer hops needed to transact, which means less energy is used to drive performance and revenue. For advertisers, they can be confident that they are having a lower carbon impact whilst also delivering against their campaign outcomes effectively. 

A Better Future

If and when a more positive economic outlook returns, advertisers can become more comfortable in appealing to the aspiration of consumers for a better life. But the importance of effective targeting is here to stay.

As our society becomes more diverse in terms of background, lifestyle and philosophical outlook, a one-size-fits-all approach becomes less and less viable. 

Stronger ad tech can enable more effective and appropriate targeting, deliver better viewability and completion rates, and limit advertising’s carbon impact.

Effective targeting is no longer a ‘nice to have’, but a business essential.

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