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Audience Intent – Not all Clicks are Equal!9 min read

9 min read

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[/vc_raw_html][text_output]Over the last few months I have found myself getting more and more obsessed with audience strategies – where are the next opportunities and what more can we do from a PPC, SEO, Social or Display perspective to deliver even better results when overlaying audience information?

The heart of the problem/opportunity lies with the fact a consumer’s relationship with a brand is not linear, it spans multiple on and offline interactions and works across devices. Marketers understand that channels such as paid search must be united, attributed and joined up, to reach consumers in the most efficient and effective way.

I had to start by going backwards, to a world where paid search was a keyword strategy – yes often with high intent, but often with limited intent – the right time, right place, right message concept – but without the ability to layer audience data. This was a fundamental starting point in understanding just how far we have come over the last few years.

The traditional route of marketing in this space was to look for the “hand-raisers” who expressed a specific interest and utilise search marketing to connect them to their relevant content. However, paid search is experiencing a sizeable evolution towards strategies based on consumer-centred insights and behaviours.

The ability to overlay 3 concepts or founding principles is what I am finding most exciting…

  1. Being specific to an individual
  2. Based on prior behaviour
  3. Based on real-time behaviour

Keeping points 1 – 3 in mind at all times and layering these concepts alongside data – be it client data, customer relationship data or utilising external data to determine audience insight, is where there is most to gain. In my opinion, brands and advertisers should start focusing all their planning around how they can make more from this opportunity.

It’s important that this model should not just be thought about in new customer terms, this is a cross/upsell strategy, an increasing loyalty strategy and an influencing future conversions strategy.

I like the concept around “all clicks aren’t created equal” and the move away from “searches to searchers”. This personalisation means a long overdue shift in direction to lifetime value, which is a very welcome move from the short-termism last click models. Personalisation and the audience hold the key to successful and integrated digital performance strategies.

Omnichannel personalisation


Things that have caught my attention

At the Marin Masters conference, Tor Thompson, EMEA Regional Director for Bing spoke about selling to an individual looking for a skateboard:

  1. Understand his/her language using tools like Bing Ads Intelligence or GA data
  2. Use bid modifiers for demographic, mobile and time of day
  3. Use remarketing to remind him/her with new offers
  4. Peak his interest with offers & specifics in sitelink extensions
  5. Actually show him what it looks like with Shopping Campaigns

When you overlay this type of thinking into the myriad of audience search tools – how far can you push it? The key is understanding where people hitting your site arrived from – what was theirinitial trigger – and then, how you are going to message them in the future.

Once we start putting every user into buckets of similar users – with similar audience based intentions; the possibilities suddenly seem nearly endless even for paid search…

A few examples of channels and products your audience buckets can arrive from:

RLSA / Remarketing / DFSA Remarketing / In-market users / Similar users / Gmail ads / Dynamic ads / Cross-device targeting and tracking / Utilising your first, second and third party data / Business segment optimisation based on Machine learning and Real Time bidding / Sequential ads to tell a story through a user’s journey / Programmatic prospecting / Customer Match / GA – User data / Search history / Predictive bidding – for time a user is most likely to convert / Personalised landing pages / Bing ads remarketing / Google and Bing shopping and remarketing / Bing Native / Carousel ads for past behaviour / Conversion optimiser / Creative sequencing / Real-time marketing / Purchases / Targeting emails received from competitors…. the list goes on and on and on….

This starter list of paid search tools, most of which didn’t exist even 2 years ago, doesn’t even get to the basics of bidding by Geo and Demo tactics that have been around forever, right through to bidding based on weather or core interests.

There are a million tactics to use, and the keyword strategy (of old) for paid search is no longer the keyword strategy of today – the shift is already here, the focus is now on optimising for searchers rather than searches, and this is moving forwards with a consuming pace.

Going back to our skateboard example, currently no one in the UK bids on the keyword “death” – but for if someone has recently been searching for skateboards, was categorised as someone in market for a skateboard, has just received emails from your competitor about skateboards, or had in the past visited your website, you could and should now be bidding on this keyword!

Death Skateboards


Going back to the guiding principles, principle number 3, based on real-time behaviour, there is a rather nice example from Ann Summers – the methodology was simple…

When it was forecasting a wet weekend, searchers on Thursday would land on the homepage and get a dynamically generated landing page with free delivery and returns, the sentiment was simply “going to be stuck in this weekend – make your weekend indoors something rather special!”

Ann Summers

Needless to say, this weather based real time tactic was a huge success – but the simplicity and principles of this surely can be adopted in some form for most retailers!

The Real Time Marketing report states that – ON AVERAGE THERE IS A 26% UPLIFT IN CONVERSION RATE COMING FROM REAL TIME MARKETING – Powerful stuff that shouldn’t be ignored!


Types of Audience Targeting

So audience base traits such as demographics, psychographics, behavioural variables, and firmographics are typically cookie-based and anonymous.

But, data doesn’t have to be limited to consumer data.  For example, data on weather trends, fuel prices, economic, or product inventory can be incorporated into the bidding and creative strategies.

The next level of targeting beyond audience-based buying is addressable media.  Addressable media is a more specific form of targeting, utilising personally identifiable information, where an individual is marketed to, on a one-to-one basis. The technology for buying targeted or addressable media in display, video, and social is largely available and has been for a number of years.

Although I would be quite comfortable getting an advert saying “Hi Ben – you purchased a crate of red wine last week, do you fancy these 6 bottles for the festive season at half price,” most people start to get freaked out and privacy concerns rear their ugly heads. For advertisers, the standard is to run things like carousel ads for similar products based on your behaviours, rather than being too much of a stalker!

Privacy concerns

It’s important that people understand that publishers like Facebook and Google, which often need a login, or run with signed in searchers, have the potential for addressable media.

In the current format, all search ads are anonymous, products like RLSAs require a site visit and a bucket of a 1000 users before you can make your search ad ‘targetable’ – but overlaying clicks, from anything you can track in GA (currently 200+ factors) right through to Gmail ads, Youtube or referring sites like Facebook, means you can target, message, speak to, and deliver onsite experiences at a more personal level – I’m not sure if addressing users by name will be ever allowed or the norm from the big G.

Finally, now you know hopefully a little more about audiences, here’s a great example of why you need to think and plan carefully. The launch of Dragon Age 3 – for the games buffs out there, was one of the biggest releases of 2014 – the launch was focused on YouTube which is often the norm with many games launches.

Audience data is key for success in this channel, and the initial launch was a massive failure, but having targeted the right age and demographic, there was no real reason why the video wasn’t working or being shared naturally…

The team at YouTube were then able to provide a layer of audience affinity and one of the key segments was surprisingly (at the time) classical music.[/text_output][x_video_embed type=”16:9″]

[/x_video_embed][text_output]The team behind the release quickly contacted Lindsey Stirling and got her to play the music behind the production. It was quickly re-released into YouTube, the result is 13.5 million views and an award winning release.

Classical music

So however much you think you know – test, test and test again! Just doing a search on video games and classical music now brings back lots of research into this previously unknown link – but getting the audience mechanics right is the key to success!

To sum up audiences lets go back to the 3 guiding principles:

  1. Be specific to an individual
  2. Base activity on prior behaviour
  3. Base it on real time behaviour

Overlay tracking to determine intent, make sure you know users that have arrived from YouTube, Facebook or from a Gmail ad against your competitor, so when they search again or browse, you can execute a strategy that works for them– start small – change your messaging or experience in some form based on every audience you can easily target, and build from there. Despite paid search not yet being fully targetable or addressable, with a few smarts you can overlay data into every keyword bid, and move to the model of targeting searchers.

For one of our insurance clients, bidding on home insurance is effective in position 3 or 4 to the generic population – but bidding on home insurance when a user has affinity with financials/classic cars and is between 35–54, conversions rates are so much higher we sit in the number 1 spot for this audience.


Croud’s point of view

Data-driven advertisers will provide a more relevant and targeted advertisement for consumers. The barriers in search can be overcome to ensure the brands you look after experiment more with targeted media today, and who knows, they may even prepare themselves for the “addressable search” of the future. Search will always be customer initiated, but we can now deliver more relevance than ever before for audience-based buying online. The push-focused display, social, and video ads will all be linked together in a performance world where audience is king.

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