Tag Archives: targeting

Is Digital Targeting Just a Hoax?

Before I went to holiday, there was lots of chatter about the ”failed” Facebook targeting experiment of P&G. This naturally gave fuel to the fire to those denouncing digital advertising (namely Ad Contrarian). Essentially P&G run targeted Facebook for Febreze (pet owners and large families for example), but they got better results when they were just targeting broader audience of just over 18 year olds.

If you have been doing marketing at professional level for a while the results were not surprising at all. However, you should not use this as a proof point that targeting does not work, because of the following reasons:

1. FMCG is a different kind of beast, you can just blast your audience with bazooka

“The bigger your brand, the more you need broad reach and less targeted media,”

– Brian Weiser, Pivotal Research Analyst

Majority of P&G brands (including Febreze) are unique brands because they are truly for everyone. Majority of FMCG is mass reach, so it is not surprising that when you have broad targeting you have better results than when just focusing on few sub-segments. Actually in most of the markets you should not even bother with Facebook. If you have money running TV ads, they would still probably be more effective than doing anything on Facebook. And that is essentially what P&G has done. They have increased their TV spending. FMCG is first-and-foremost about top-of-mind and visibility on shelf. To achieve that you opt for the channel getting you maximum awareness.

Pretty much all the rest of the brands cannot work with such a broad sweep. Not all of the products live and die through the mass awareness. If you need to get 1000 quality leads, targeting the whole population is not most likely be more cost-effective than smart targeting. The main benefits of digital advertising come when you are selling in eCommerce, because you can then truly track your results and optimize. Then shooting with bazooka is not the right tactic.

2. Targeting without personalization is not targeting

Apparently they run the same creative to all the different segments. This is akin to running nighttime ad at 11AM. It is like narrowing the list of girls you want to go out to date with, but addressing them all with the same name. If content is king, context is truly the king kong. As you have narrowed your audience, you should also narrow your message to be as relevant as possible to your target audience.

3. Targeting based on intuition is not targeting

In the articles it was not said how the different target groups (pet owners and large families) were selected, but I would assume that they were based on human intuition. The beauty of digital advertising is that you let machines to try out different target groups, different messages and let them automatically favor what truly works. Humans are incapable of handling that many tasks and they are more biased than smart algorithm.

So the failure of Febreze seems obvious in hindsight. You started narrowing although your audience is as broad as it gets. You did not narrow your message to your narrow audience. Lastly you based your targeting on human intuition instead of testing potential audiences with machine learning.

The more we let algorithms handle our marketing, the more effective it will become. P&G experiment shows more human fault than failure of highly-targeted, highly automated algorithm-driven approach.

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Advertising At The Right Place but At The Wrong Time

The main rule in contextual advertising is simple:

Ensure that your contextual advertising is done on right context.

Sounds redundant but it isn´t. Let me show an example of advertising aimed at particular time-of-the-day:

Hmm, it is 11AM on Monday morning. I have barely woken up. I don´t necessarily want to be up, but generally if you work at the office you don´t have choice. Or are you referring to my stand-up desk?

I don´t even know what I will do tomorrow, not to mention knowing will I oversleep or not. I was planning to go sleep early, but do you know more about my Netflix addiction?

I have already eaten breakfast and I am already dreaming about my lunch. Would you have any lunch deals? Or will you be targeting those ads at my dinner time?

This ad was definitely at the right place because I noticed it. Probably in the media report it will also be really effective because I replayed it zillion times to get proper screenshots. So probably we will get more of this kind of lazy targeting in the future.

In many ways the opportunities in digital media are really interesting right now: ability to target people at the right place, right time and to retarget based on their behavior is fascinating. Unfortunately media and the media agencies are too often just too damn lazy to really utilize these opportunities, or just plain creepy.

This experience was not without silver lining, it reminded me to listen this awesome song by Dr. John to cheer up my Monday:

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Booking.com and Party in Bangkok

Right after Thailand declared a state of emergency and the unrest in Bangkok increases, I received this mailer from Booking.com yesterday:
Did it caught my attention?
Did it make me want to book flights or hotel to Bangkok.
No, not really.
I have partied before in Bangkok, but the current party is not really something I would consider right now.

Lesson for the marketer: Targeting your message is not enough, you have to remember the timing of the message as well.

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