Colorado Public Radio recently published a piece that explains how Facebook is using data to target its users with ads. It’s an easily digestible, quick read for anyone looking to familiarize themselves with audience targeting. While it’s impressive Facebook can deliver this type of targeting to advertisers, there are more concepts to examine here than simply Facebook’s dominance. From a media planning perspective, here are a few points that are worth an additional few minutes of consideration:
1) The ability to target so specifically is a revolutionary concept for the ad world. In the past, brands have had to rely on content to target their audience. Consider for example, ESPN, which is largely considered to produce content known to be popular among men ages 18 to 34. If a brand was trying to reach a male in that demographic, it would be easy and relatively safe to assume to that running a spot there would likely be effective. Likely but not guaranteed.
Today, the growing types of targeting available allow brands to find real people who have met their exact targeting guidelines – rather than making assumptions. Additionally, these ads serve the target only when they’re interacting with their device. This almost guarantees a brand can successfully reach its target. It does not, however, guarantee that the target will purchase the product or that the brand is targeting its most ideal audience.
2) Facebook is one platform that is capable of targeting this way, but it is not the only one. There are hundreds of digital vendors who can apply similar types of targeting to a campaign that will reach the corners of the web, thus extending the reach beyond just Facebook. Facebook may dominate a user’s time, but it’s certainly not the only website/app a consumer visits on a continual basis.
3) Targeting is not “creepy” or annoying; it’s beneficial. As consumers, we are spoiled by increased personalization. As much as we love to gripe about how “creepy” it is to be targeted, there are major benefits. It’s important for consumers to understand that advertisers aren’t able to access their PII (personally identifiable information) such as name, address, and date of birth. Knowing that helps alleviate some of the creepy aspect.
Even if you’re not personally interested in the ads being served to you, they are likely significantly closer to your interests than, say, a 22-year old male seeing ads for baby cribs and high-blood pressure medication.
The most important thing to remember is that your target consumer’s interests and media consumption habits are continually changing. In order for a brand’s campaign to be successful year over year, the strategy should grow and evolve, just as advertising’s ability to target has.
By Colleen Kennedy Hunter, Media Planner