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2014: Welcome to ‘The Year of the Audience’

2014 has a lot in store for digital. With each week that passes a new development is announced and a new tech is released. It’s this time of year that many companies are planning where they will focus their attention for the months ahead. Croud founder, Luke Smith, tells us why this year, is the year of the audience.

Just as the Chinese calendar has been doing for years, it has become customary within the digital chatterati to anoint every year as the year of something. For digital it’s been the year of mobile every year since 2003.

So as China gallops (sorry) towards the year of the horse we at Croud are  jumping on this theme and calling 2014………..wait for it……..

‘The year of the Horse’

no wait – sorry its: Capgemini

‘The Year of the Audience’

Make no mistake, Google’s targeting advancements in 2013 were seismic and when combined with the record growth in smart phones and tablets we will see a perfect storm of companies prepared for their audience. An audience who through their interactions will benefit from targeting as they go about their daily lives. Buying the right sized clothes and looking for an emergency glazer local to within 10 minutes and working on Boxing Day.

Targeting has often been seen as insidious by many punters but this largely relates to the more ‘invasive’ strains of digital such as ads for all kinds of nebulous crap in your Facebook feed.

As agencies and their clients alike are all too aware, paid search has grown increasingly competitive, with core generic CPCs rising consistently year on year. Advertisers in even moderately competitive markets are struggling to get a profitable return from Adwords on head generics alone. Many see generics as a loss leader and purely a way of building market share, aligning to long-term customer value in order to justify spend.

As advertisers and custodians of advertising budgets are all too aware, this can’t continue. We will have to look at other channels and routes to market. Google knows this, (Google knows a lot of things) and as always they’ve come up with some smart solutions to the problem. It’s not just about understanding your business anymore in terms of margin and geo targeting to areas you delivery to but is now about understanding your audience, and calibrating your PPC activity to them.

Although being able to segment user by device, by location and time is relatively old hat in search terms. It is this flexibility to bid higher for a user if we know that at the time or in that place they are more likely to convert that has driven some of the greatest efficiencies for our clients.

And it isn’t stopping there – it got smarter, through RLSA (remarketing) we can serve messages based on whether a user has been on a site, and even segment it dependent on where they dropped off or the action they took. Straight away we know that if someone converted before, their propensity to purchase is higher so we’ll bid more, or less if the time since the purchase dictates…but as always all about using data to inform our decisions.

In the latest development Beta right now it gets even better, with demographic (yes old school media metrics) entering the fray. Now this is still early days, we are only able to glean age and gender information, but it’s a start and will only continue to improve…

But even now, I can decide to bid double for a user who’s say, in Preston, Male and over 54 on a mobile who’s visited my site in the past got to checkout but didn’t convert, and serve him a promotional message based on the product he previously browsed. Powerful stuff.

And this is just the beginning; imagine when Google start overlaying the types of sites people have been on, products they have previously purchased.

Suddenly advertising against core generics searches just got interesting again, we are sharpening our tools to make the most of this new armoury for our clients.