Six Keys to Unlocking the Power of Consumer Profile Data for Web Display Advertising


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Over the past decade, marketers have spent an increasing amount of their marketing budget on web display advertising. In fact, U.S. online advertising spending is expected to reach $31.3 billion this year—a 20% increase, according to a recent report by eMarketer.

This growth, despite challenging economic times, has been fueled by continuous innovation in display ad targeting. A shift from site-based targeting to audience-based buys has driven more new growth. In audience-based targeting, marketers target specific consumer segments—based on a rich data set that defines audiences by characteristics—with media displayed across a wide range of web sites – much like a direct or email marketer would segment their files. According to comScore, in 2010 alone audience based targeting experienced a 514% lift in the number of people who searched for a brand within four weeks of ad exposure.

Originally, audience-based targeting was dominated by online behavioral data. This approach targets consumers based on recent online activities. For instance, a travel marketer might target consumers who visited travel web sites in the past 7 days.

However, a new form of audience-based targeting, Anonymous Consumer Profile (ACP) targeting, is the latest innovation, giving marketers an even more powerful data toolset. ACP targeting defines consumer segments using richer and more stable data that has been generated across multiple channels over a longer period of time – like purchase behaviors, demographics, financial and lifestyle data. With Anonymous Consumer Profile targeting, a travel marketer could target web display ads to consumers who have been consistently active travelers, are married with young children, meet specific income thresholds and live in specific geographic regions.

This deeper data toolset offers the promise of higher ROI and broader relevance for display programs – benefiting both the marketer and the consumer.

To be successful in Anonymous Consumer Profile targeting, marketers should focus on the following six tenets:

1. Know thy data. More comprehensive consumer data is available today than ever before. This data includes customer demographics, financials, transactions, CRM/campaign history, in-market indicators, lifestyle and interests. But not all data is created equal. For instance, a segment called ‘Income’ could be derived from spend behavior, self-reported on a survey, extrapolated from census results or estimated based on web sites a consumer visits. Each of these segment sources have different biases and will impact campaign results. It is important to understand what kind of data is most appropriate to use in your campaigns based on your objectives and goals.

2. Move Up The Funnel. Traditional audience-based targeting, using online behavioral data, is particularly well suited for the bottom of the funnel – which consumer is most likely to buy my product today. However, Anonymous Consumer Profile targeting uses data that is based on longer term consumer behaviors and purchasing patterns – which consumer is consistently active in my product category and has a profile consistent with my brand. This type of data can help refine targeting throughout the purchase funnel– including branding/awareness, purchase and referral.

3. Be Audience Centric, Channel Agnostic. Since consumer profile data is stable and not channel-specific, you can use it to drive programs across media types. Use the same target audience definition for web display, email, direct mail and television. By placing retargeting cookies within email campaigns and on your web site, you can use other marketing channels to help build your display audience and extend your marketing investment.

4. Adapt Traditional Offline Data for Online Use. Consumer profile attributes you have used offline may perform differently in an online context. For instance, a response model designed for targeting direct mail or email may not perform as well online. A marketer should consider overlaying online activity measures to refine the audience and reach consumers who are both responsive and active in the online channel.

5. Measure and track results across channels. Well targeted display ads can drive immediate response online, but they also impact performance in other channels. ‘Click through’ conversions see the ad, but what if they type in your URL directly instead of clicking the ad? Nielsen found that combination TV and Display campaigns drive 157% lift compared to TV alone; while Comscore found a 155% lift in search results when search was combined with display. These cross channel interactions may be difficult to measure, but ignoring them can lead to under-investing in display media and hurting the overall marketing program.

6. Make consumer privacy a top priority. Provide transparent in-ad experience for the consumer that includes notices and choice, such as the “Advertising Option Icon” Privacy Icon developed by the Digital Advertising Alliance. Your consumers expect it and doing so will earn their trust.

By keeping these six tenets in mind, you can add Anonymous Consumer Profile targeting to your web display arsenal and get even more out of our online advertising program.

Kerry Morris
Kerry Morris, Vice President of Product Management, Online Solutions, has more than 15 years of experience building and managing complex marketing businesses. With deep expertise in direct and analytical marketing across a variety of industry sectors, Kerry is focused on building marketing solutions in emerging media channels.


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