Targeting – The New View of the Consumer / Why Geography Matters

By: Beth Keegan, Sr. Vice President, Marketing Solutions, Valassis

Targeting. Everyone in marketing knows the word and has a clear definition of what it means. But something has happened over the past several years, two definitions have come into the mix- one for digital and one for traditional media. For decades whether an advertiser or a retailer, targeting was defined in geographic and demographic terms. The internet has added contextual and behavioral to our targeting vocabulary. Now what?

Let’s start at the beginning. First, we are talking about consumers. No matter what we market or sell, not all consumers are our target – some are, some are not. The core question – how do you find the ones who are and focus marketing efforts on those most likely to buy? Second, consumers use a variety of different media, offline and online. Demographics, context and behavior are key descriptors in selecting media. Third, consumers are local with the majority of their shopping done close to where they live or work. That introduces geography into the discussion. Even for national advertisers, some markets are more valuable than others. So in the rapidly changing world of integrated media, we need it all – geography, demographics and contextual/behavior.

Current estimates are that a consumer needs 10 media touch points to move them to activation.

Media planning today recognizes multiple touch points and the critical role of integration. Current estimates are that a consumer needs 10 media touch points to move them to activation. Each media serves a different primary role. TV engages the audience primarily for entertainment, while digital provides ready access to social media, product information and offers while print engages and activates the readers with local news and promotional offers.

Online media has virtually doubled the channels available to consumers, with mobile playing an important role. Time on the Internet has doubled in three years – 2 hours 33 minutes in 2010 to 4 hours 29 minutes in 2013. However, for the shopper, it is the combination of offline and online media that drives their buying behavior with over 40 percent (43.1 percent) of total time spent with print and digital.

Let’s talk about multiple media touch points and the challenges. How do you target consumers, not devices? How do you build consistency of messaging across media touch points? How do you dig deeper into who the consumer is?  Where she lives, shops, plays and works?

So where do we begin? Recognize the role of geography. Why? 90 percent of retail sales happen offline. Geography is key to knowing where the consumer is and what high value media to engage her with. Finding the intersection, of geography and behavioral targeting optimizes the media plan.

A three-legged approach is helping marketers produce highly targeted integrated multi-channel media plans.

  1. Redefine geography from Retail Trade Area to Consumer Trade Area (CTA). CTA redefines geography around the true “day in the life” of the consumer in both the consumption of media and their purchasing behavior. Importantly, it also integrates mobile into the media plan.
  2. Translate big data into a fuller view of the consumer. Leverage offline data – geography and demographics and actual behavior along with online – to produce a more holistic view of your best consumers and how to activate them in their path to purchase.
  3. Leverage media synergy. Think of media as complementary…not competitive. Multi-channel, integrated media plans deliver better performance than stand-alone media.  For example, print provides reach, scale and micro-targeting like solo mail and variable imaging, while digital provides precise behavioral targeting. The RESULT:  1+1 = 3.

Leveraging offline and online big data, geography, demographics and behavioral data delivers an optimized media mix targeted at a sub-ZIP Code level based on the consumer trade area model. Targeted to the “act-a-likes”, the result is a more efficient integrated media buy with improved sales lift and ROI. It is about optimizing the media mix to ignite and accelerate the consumer in their path to purchase.  Geography matters.




Leave a Reply