The internet has created a limitless marketplace for connections and conversations — and identifiers such as nationality, age, gender and more, once utilized to access ‘multicultural segments’, are becoming increasingly blurred. Similarly, for advertisers, the digital world has created infinite possibilities to connect with audiences. Although we have more access to data than ever before, there are record levels of resistance to advertising. The marketing challenge of keeping up with evolving audiences is complex and multifaceted, however, one aspect remains certain: traditional targeting approaches that employ standardized segmentation practices are obsolete in a digital world. Targeting that simply relies on things like age, gender and language can actually stereotype consumers and signal the death knell of any marketer — generic advertising.
Humans are the product of a multitude of nuances beyond salary levels or birth years. Age may be a decent starting point, but what does it really tell you about interests? Individuals are made up of complex intersections of needs and preferences, which are informed by things like traditions, values, and beliefs. However, some advertisers are beginning to see that using traditional demographic targeting data is a crutch and a dangerous one at that. Using demographic factors exclusively can put potential audiences into a box they do not subscribe to, and once you’ve inaccurately addressed the user, it can be very difficult to change their negative impression of your brand.
While experts agree that demographics still have a place in advertising, most also share the opinion that they can no longer be the sole point of focus for a campaign. A recent study found eighty-three percent of advertisers state that age, gender, and location have a role to play, but agree that those signifiers alone don’t tell the whole story of a potential audience.
“No single data set alone can fully capture cultural relevance, nor is it necessary to know everything about every consumer. Advertisers want to know the minimum number of data points that can generate predictable results at scale,” says Seraj Bharwani, chief strategy officer at AcuityAds. “We blend multiple consumer behaviors that are indicative of their intent, interests, passions, and affinities into an aggregated, dynamic score, and refer to it as a consumer’s propensity to do business with a given brand in near real-time.”
There may be a few ways for digital advertisers to enhance their use of audience culture as part of the targeting process, but that means changing both the data they use as well as where they go to collect it. Online groups, communities, fandoms, and affinities with which consumers associate on social media and the broader array of content that users consume might be more beneficial when it comes to relating with audience culture than digital advertisers might realize at first glance.
Programmatic advertising tools, for example, can help them isolate or work with those cultural affinities. These tools can help advertisers narrow down the way that they approach audiences with a much more nuanced look, as they can quickly break down things like social interests, search habits, video consumption and, of course, purchases to see their greater cultural impact.
The need for deeper, more nuanced cultural data should spark advertisers’ curiosity. They must go hunting for the data that they need in unforeseen places, and in unforeseen ways. The advertiser that can marshal newly discovered cultural data has the best chance of snagging their desired audience.
Read the report, Modern Digital Advertising is Cross-Culture today.
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