Marketing and Research Consulting for a Brave New World
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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, 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:

  1. 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.
  2. Target persuadables towards your brand and not waste ad dollars against those firmly committed to other brands
  3. 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).
  4. 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).
  5. 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.
  6. 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.

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9 Responses to “Why you should NOT follow Procter’s latest marketing advice”

  1. procter wields lots of power and influence as one the most sophisticated marketers and brand stewards in the world – so when i read that FB advertising does not work or or pay back it could be a myriad of factors such as:
    poor planning
    poor targeting
    misaligned objectives
    comparing CPM to other media like TV where reach is much more efficient – but i agree targeted marketing abd targeting Ads are very percise and narrow by definition.
    i recommed an audit and third party analysis before broad generalizatuons are made about effectiveness and efficiency of FB targeting of Ads.
    there was an independent analysis down that showed good impact.

  2. In the various marketing mix modeling work I have been involved in, I have yet to see one case where a paid FB ad actually worked well. This does not mean other digital media are ineffective; and I am not dissing all FB ads; but it certainly raises a legitimate question. But there is something larger going on here. With ad blockers and the very high incidence of people ignoring or feeling insulted with online advertising in general, I think there is too much emphasis on pouring tons of money into digital ad channels without any measurement or accountability. When was the last time you got annoyed by opening an article you wish to read and getting blitzed by pop up ads?

    • Perhaps experimental design is better to address this issue? Not defending Facebook, but I am saying I believe RCT more than top down modeling for something as specific as whether or not a facebook ad targeted a certain way is working.

  3. Or could it be that the numbers are bullshit. Why the industry keeps walking away from misleading data that is all over social media is a mystery to me? Even Google and the NYT revealed massive falsified impressions data (over 50% never seen by humans!!). And impressions are measured in seconds. Whaaat? Isnt that the same time that you have to endure a video ad before you can skip the ad. In my view P&G discovered that the data lead nowhere because it was probably falsified and unusable. You can gild this shit with programmatic this and that, but at the end of the day its still crap.

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  6. Mats

    I think the crucial number is the definition of the 15% of consumers who are likely to buy. In many categories, not least for P&G, that is pretty much like saying 15% of everybody. Especially if we factor recency into account and the need to focus on trial rather than loyalty in order to build your customer base. Clearly there is a need to TRY to target so that you avoid the persistent rejectors, but going too narrow is also risky.

    • the great majority of new products receive under 10% year one trial. that is what the 15% is based on. However, the way I do this in my consulting business, the percentage is data-driven so in select cases, can be higher based on matching factors that produce a certain threshold probability of trial. However, you are right in the sense that if the high propensity segment gets too large, you are back to mass marketing. So 5% of products maybe mass marketing is right. For the 95%, I am proposing a different approach that couldn’t have existed 5 years ago.

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