Jul 2020 | Marketing Solutions | Third Party Data
By Posted by Experian

Reaching your target audience has always been one of the key fundamentals of successful marketing. However, in today’s digital landscape, brands often struggle with audience strategies, especially when it comes to buying media across multiple online channels.

The recent pandemic has further highlighted the challenges, as consumer behaviour undergoes significant changes, necessitating the shifting of media plans. To adapt and enhance marketing effectiveness, brands must transform their audience analysis and execution capabilities.  This blog explores the importance of leveraging 1st and 3rd-party data in this process.

Dramatic changes in consumer behaviour have resulted in media plans needing to be shifted significantly.

Working with data from both within and beyond the organisation, brands allows brands to improve their marketing effectiveness and ability to change. As we emerge from the pandemic, consumer behaviour is shifting, and technology and data regulations will impact existing setups. Brands need to transform their audience analysis and execution capabilities to succeed. By addressing the challenge and leveraging data from multiple sources, brands can enhance their marketing strategies and effectively target their audience. This requires an effective framework, the right tools, and a comprehensive approach to data analysis and interpretation.

Taking an Audience First Approach

Many organisations make the mistake of jumping straight into using digital activity such as paid search, social or programmatic, particularly for direct response activity. Based on the algorithm capabilities and user-friendly environments, these platforms make buying media easy. However, time and time again, we speak to clients who recognise that their platforms are not driving profitable audiences or that their spend is not delivering desired outcomes.

The first step should be to define your target audiences and relevant messages for those audiences. Using 1st, 2nd, and 3rd party data is crucial in understanding which audiences to focus resources and marketing budgets on. While 1st-party data provides insights into existing customers, 2nd and 3rd-party data offer visibility into potential new customers. By combining all three types of data, brands can form a solid foundation for audience analysis and targeting.

Only once core audiences have been identified, and relevant segments are created and ranked based on affinity to your products and services, can the right mix of channels and messaging be identified. Audiences will look very different for branding campaigns compared to performance and direct response campaigns, which require in market audiences, who are already interested in your product/services. Translating the selected audiences into channel activity is a vital phase in the successful marketing process that requires effective tools and talent to achieve.

Clear and Effective Success Metrics

“If you can’t measure it you can’t improve it.” This famous quote from Peter Drucker is never truer than when applied to advertising. The metrics used to evaluate performance need to be carefully selected to ensure they fit the campaign’s short and long-term objectives.

Branding activity needs to be focused on maximising engagement towards your target audience. Measuring video views, dwell time, or engagement with the advert combined with reach and frequency of an advert is the most effective when measuring branding activity.

Performance campaigns should go beyond short term metrics such as clicks or last click sales. Whilst these metrics can provide a directional view, they need to be balanced with end results such as post-view conversions and the value of customer converted. It is crucial that incrementality and lifetime customer value is built into the measurement apparatus so that brands can work out the true return on their ad spend.

Measuring and refining: human vs machine

Driving efficiencies and measuring performance should be an ongoing effort during and post campaign execution. These days, platforms allow advanced bidding and optimisation algorithms which are very powerful when used as a part of your data and execution strategy.

However, with increased technological advances in platforms, we often see over-reliance in isolated channel optimisation techniques which are driven by media platforms, that don’t often take into account the entire media mix and longer-term organisational goals. There is a definite need to balance the power of machine learning for measurement with softer people and planning skills and expertise while looking at the marketing cycle in its entirety.

Cross Channel Audience Execution

We have seen good examples of brands mastering audience buying well, in some single-channel activities, for example online paid social platforms such as Facebook where Audiences can be set up directly.

However, not all channels are this straightforward. Paid Search platforms, which accounts for around half of global digital ad spend, does not allow for third party audiences to be used. As the audience strategy needs to be translated to keyword selection as well as “bid modifiers” around geo-location, time and device. This is vital as properly setup paid search is the leading platform for finding “in market audiences” at a keyword level.

Matters are further complicated the more channels are added, making a consistent Audience strategy challenging. Online Video connected TV and digital out of home all require different techniques to ensure a consistent audience approach. With the right data and tools though success is possible with location-based audience planning a vital common currency.

Experian Audience Framework

The journey towards effective use of both 1st party owned data alongside 3rd party data across channels is not linear, and this is further clouded by the evolving consumer attitudes and buying behaviours we are currently observing during these uncertain times.

At Experian we have identified four key stages which may help when navigating through these challenges:

1. Understand your customers: using data and insights to understand your most valuable customers now and how these may evolve in the future. Segmentation and analysis drive increased understanding and clarity.

2. Audience Planning: using 1st, 2nd and 3rd party data to segment your target audiences and understand their affinity to your products and services. This leads to effective audience planning and buying in all channels.

3. Optimise in channel: using a combination of data points to modify buying strategy and improved performance against agreed KPIs.

4. Evaluate and refine: constant evaluation of campaign performance against audiences and channels that feed into the current campaign optimisation and future campaign planning.

We have created an online assessment, using our expertise and best practices we’ve seen from leading organisations, which may help advertisers in providing insights on how to approach these stages, and leverage data effectively across channels.

This is for general guidance and only considers certain angles of marketing effectiveness. Great marketing comes in different shapes and sizes and other perspectives should be evaluated alongside data planning and strategy.

If you are an advertiser and currently investing across traditional and digital channels and would like to learn more about your data, insights, media planning and campaign execution style and where potentially you may need to allocate additional resources, take the online assessment today.