Why target demographics when you can speak to customers at the moment that matters?

02 May 2016

  • Analytics
  • Creative
  • Digital Marketing
  • Search Marketing

How many ways can you slice a demographic before you end up with no audience? It’s a question that points to the one of the many limitations with segmentation, such as demographics and geo-demographical profiles. The latter being a sophisticated way to letterbox drop in the early ‘00’s.

While demographics rely on generic profiles to be sliced and diced into what is perceived to be the ideal audience, this method discounts the many moments of interaction and interest that make up a human day.  Targeting the right individual based on their profile alone is not enough anymore for advertisers. Now the moments matter.

2pm on a Tuesday could be a very different moment from 2pm on a Saturday for the same person. For example if they just purchased a plane ticket, or if it’s raining outside, or they just watched a video on how to build a new flower bed; all these factors could help indicate what ad to show at that exact moment. Those moments for the same person would be scored very differently.

In direct contrast to much of what goes on in the current programmatic advertising industry, understanding the right ‘moment’ is a far more accurate and consistent measure of how and why people buy things. It’s not just location, time of day, current site, and current device that has a bearing on targeting. Recent events also need to be considered, such as ads clicked and websites visited that day, as well as long-term factors like browsing habits, purchasing behaviour, and interests. All of this is equally crucial in determining the likelihood a consumer will take the desired marketing action. Critically, that means being able to see the channel, device and objectives together, instead of in siloes to ensure the right. 

At Rocket Fuel, a moment may be comprised of over 11 million demographic, behavioural, and contextual attributes.  An audience of one looks very different at different times of the day and an individual’s interests and attention span will vary considerably.  Different variables mean your online focus can veer massively from snacking on news content, to browsing a fashion site, to comparing home loans, or planning a family holiday. All consumed by one individual, on multiple devices in potentially multiple locations.

With marketers now able to bring their first party data to programmatic advertising through DMP’s, the question of when to serve someone a message becomes just as important as whom to serve that message to. Using myriad data points to understand and respond to the ‘moment of interaction’ is the next essential field of progress in digital advertising – one that also speaks to the ongoing debate around making content more relevant and engaging.

Moving even further beyond simple demographics, coupling rich first party data with second and third party data empowers marketers with campaigns that are more informed than could have been imagined 10 years ago. Back then, the Holy Grail was 1:1 marketing at scale and that was achieved a couple of years ago with simple retargeting methods. Today, on average, we see consumers one hundred times a day on various devices – making the right moment more important than ever. An ad that might be incredibly relevant in one moment might be totally meaningless in the next.

My social media feed is full of people advocating ‘living in the moment’, and that’s exactly what consumers are now doing. Real world moments and digital action increasingly occur in unison. Mobile has virtually eliminated the barriers around instant information and purchases. Savvy marketers will soon also choose to ‘live in the moment’, looking past demographics and using technology to automatically target the moments in which their brand matters most.

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