Marketing and Research Consulting for a Brave New World
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Movable Middle theory is still batting 1000…all case studies so far have shown that the Movable Middle is hyper-responsive to advertising vs. non-Movable Middles.  (What else in marketing offers such a guarantee of success?)

Most recently, you might have seen the press release from Viant , providing results from 3 CPG ad campaigns about the power of targeting the Movable Middle . (Press release and white paper here.) (Disclosure: I was retained to help design the Viant research.)

For the Viant campaigns, the average sales response to advertising exposure was FOURTEEN TIMES HIGHER from Movable Middle consumers vs. non-Movable Middles.

(This was determined by Circana (fka IRI) using their sales lift method based on their frequent shopper data.)

Including the MMA led case studies, we are seeing that the Movable Middle segment is exhibiting 2-23 TIMES the conversion lift (vs. non-Movable Middle consumers).

Retailers (advertising their own banners): 5-13X

Financial: 23X

CPG: 2-14X

Why does Movable Middle targeting consistently work so well? It’s math from calculus. Basically, if you take the first derivative of the logit S-shaped function that is the workhorse of MTA, you will find that the rate of change is p*(1-p), which is maximized when p=.5.  Hence, consumers with a 50% baseline probability of choosing your brand should be most responsive to your advertising.  The Movable Middle, those with a 20-80% probability of choosing the brand of interest, just broadens that out a bit so the segment is of sufficient size to be valuable for targeting. 

Another important insight from Viant’s research is that regardless of channel mix, Movable Middles targeting works.  I draw that inference by noting that each Viant-run advertising campaign had a different mix of tactics across CTV, online video, display, across mobile and desktop. Regardless of mix, we saw similar hyper-responsiveness of Movable Middles to advertising.

Viant’s press release is significant for another reason. It signals the launch of an infrastructure for CPG marketers to easily execute Movable Middle targeting. CPG marketers…you can now ask Viant to use on-boarded Circana frequent shopper data to target your Movable Middle which should result in doubling (or more) advertising productivity. As Jon Schulz, CMO at Viant says, “This research presents a tremendous opportunity for advertisers to leverage Viant’s proprietary cookieless technology to…execute an omnichannel Movable Middle targeting strategy, measuring (and creating) true campaign impact and lift.”

For me personally, this has been an extremely gratifying step in the journey to improve how marketers plan their media strategy. It started in late 2019 with an idea proposed at an MMA Global meeting…that those with a mid-range probability of choosing your brand might be hyper-responsive to your advertising.

Incredibly gratifying to see our Movable Middle idea progress from theory to validation to activation infrastructure.

Here are four big ideas I hope to leave you with:

  1. Campaign evaluation evidence is accumulating that Movable Middles are 2- 23 times more responsive vs. non-Movable Middles.
  2. Movable Middle targeting works across sectors and regardless of tactics, channels, and creative, can increase campaign ROAS by 50-100%. 
  3. Infrastructure now exists for CPG marketers to implement Movable Middle targeting as an integral part of their media plan.
  4. Movable Middle targeting results in greater brand penetration, benefiting the brand long term.  This was discovered in the original research. That is because the subset of non-buyers who are favorable towards your brand exist in the same audiences you target to reach Movable Middles.

The MMA, Viant, and now some other AdTech partners are heavily invested in Movable Middle theory. I will be reporting on additional evidence and infrastructure as we move forward.

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