Recently, Procter sent shock waves throughout the marketing community when it announced it was abandoning precision targeting via Facebook. “It didn’t work”, “We targeted too much and went too narrow”, said Marc Pritchard, their CMO. All generalized from a Febreze ad targeted to pet owners in large families that didn’t seem to cover its CPM costs.
Of course, when this was reported in the Wall Street Journal, and picked up by the marketing press on earth and neighboring planets, it was big news. It was interpreted as generalizable advice that all CMOs must listen to…do not target too tightly!! Do not move too far away from the old way of marketing. Some even blogged they hoped this will bring down ad-tech.
My advice? Don’t let Procter set your media strategy. Marketing is transforming from top down to bottom up and you need to embrace it, not run away.
Data-driven precision targeting is a train steaming down the tracks. Programmatic is reported to be growing at 20-50% per year. Mobile too…right place right time. Programmatic is purely about delivering the right message to the right user at the right time, decided on in real time…something Google refers to as “micro-moments”, or Clayton Christensen might refer to as “jobs to be done”.
Programmatic is transforming marketing from “top down” (buy the whole audience of a show you feel matches your brand) to “bottom up” (choosing to buy an impression to a given user based on their profile and situational factors.) Yes, bottom up marketing is transformational; for example, hypothetically, Hillary Clinton can now runs ads to undecided voters on Foxnews.com, avoiding hardcore Republicans…before programmatic, who would have thought that? This is how Presidential marketing now works, the most sophisticated target marketing on the planet.
Yes, there are growing pains…some issues of brand fit with the media property, transparency on fees, whether CPMs are priced right, and the occasional counter-intuitive result like Procter got with Febreze, etc.
Push past the growing pains and double down on bottom up marketing. Most of my consulting is really about helping marketers or research companies develop the insights and analytics side of what this means. (Yes, insights and analytics is MORE important than ever in a data-driven marketing world.)
Doubling down on bottom up marketing (and research) opens up wonderful new possibilities:
- Target the 15% or consumers who are likely to account for 80% of the trial of your new product, taking money from the 70% who have virtually no interest in your brand whatsoever.
- Target persuadables towards your brand and not waste ad dollars against those firmly committed to other brands
- Activate your consumer segmentation by making it the basis for constructing audiences you target programmatically that deliver higher ad response (and if that doesn’t happen it means your segmentation approach is in need of a digital mindset refresh).
- Turn your DMP into your brand tracker. If you have modeled propensity scores on the DMP, you actually have a brand equity metric at scale that can be reported out continuously and in real time. Add in social media and you have a surrogate for attribute ratings (You should be able to save millions of dollars if you have numerous brands in numerous markets).
- Response profile your brand. Instead of just attribute/positioning profiling, let’s profile out the distinguishing digital profile variables that differentiate those who respond to your advertising. Then turn that knowledge into audience creation rules so that you continuously improve the response to your marketing investments.
- Treat your campaign as a living lab with real time decision making. As Procter found out with Febreze, marketing doesn’t always follow script. Oh those wacky, lovable consumers! Every ad campaign can be optimized by moving money around in flight based on what is working, whether it conforms to preconceived notions or not…and is an opportunity to learn something…don’t squander that.
And one more point…when Pritchard said, “we targeted too narrow”, in particular resist that advice. The future of marketing IS narrow…it’s bottom up marketing, one impression at a time, perfectly chosen. It doesn’t mean that you are restricting reach…it just means you are building reach from the bottom up. In fact, I predict that even the big shows and publishers will all unpack their audiences and develop targeting plans for you that are bottom up. It is already happening. And the reach you need is not necessarily the reach that Procter needs, so again, build your own experience and media strategy.
It’s becoming a bottom up marketing world…understand it, embrace it, master it, measure it.