Right Creative, Wrong Audience: Who’s Really Seeing Your Ads?

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To some marketers, ad creative is the most crucial factor in determining campaign success. We tend to believe that the perfect balance of messaging and imagery will pique peoples’ interest and get them to engage with our brand. That’s only partly true. Yes, a strong ad campaign is valuable – only if it’s being seen by your target audience. Oftentimes, that can be a pretty big “if.”

In the age of screen-scrolling and cluttered social media newsfeeds, the window of opportunity to reach an audience is smaller than ever. There are a number of factors that inhibit our ability to do so: primarily, bad targeting data and poor response to ads. So, how can we ensure that our intended audiences are seeing our content?

Determine if the Right People are Seeing your Creative

The truth is, no matter how compelling your ad creative is, it could simply be targeted to the wrong people. Advertisers use data segments to target ads based on various audience types, but it’s difficult to target an online audience and truly get it right. While there are a lot of platforms out there that help you target first party and third party data, it’s still hard to accurately assess the quality of your audiences.

Audience attributes are complex, especially because people are more than just one identity – for example, I could be both an auto intender and an auto enthusiast. Nuances like “purchase intent” versus “category enthusiast” can be difficult for advertisers and data providers to decipher. So, there is a significant element of trust that goes into targeting, without a guarantee that data segments match the attributes you’re targeting.

What’s the solution? Go straight to the source. The only way to know if a data segment is actually comprised of the attributes you’re targeting is to directly ask individuals themselves – i.e. audience measurement.

An audience measurement tool like Data Score can cull purchased lists and verify whether or not it matches your intended audience – then your data is given a score, so you know its accuracy. Both advertisers and data providers can leverage audience measurement solutions to ensure their data sources are meeting expectations and delivering quality data.

Gauge Audience Response Pre- or Post-Campaign Launch

Another benefit of directly asking questions of targeted audiences is the ability to measure the impact of your advertising – before a campaign launches, or once it’s in-flight. Brands are constantly competing for consumers’ attention, and we all want to reach the right audience with the right message at the right time. However, technology has fundamentally changed the way we connect with audiences; communication is more nuanced, audiences can be fickle, and our chance to sway a viewer is like a small ship in a sea of other ads.

Messaging and placement is key, but so is ensuring that it resonates with your audience. In modern advertising, the ratio of importance between “right message, right person, right time” skews heavily to the right person. It was ingrained in me to believe that message, offer, and list are all equally important. But that’s changed now. It’s much more important to have the “right” list – and that is more critically important than ever.

If your ad isn’t eliciting the brand lift you were hoping for, there may be a few factors at play. First, you could be targeting an audience that isn’t interested in your offering. Second, you may need to adjust the placement of your ad. Third, you may need to rethink your creative.

In fact, it’s actually valuable to know if an ad isn’t resonating with audiences – so you can avoid wasting advertising dollars. Ad measurement (or ad effectiveness) solutions like Impact Measurement can tell you if your ads are having the intended impact. So, if a campaign isn’t meeting your standards or creating brand lift, ads can be optimized to better resonate with your target audience and increase the ROI of your initial spend.

Reassess Your Metrics for Measuring ROI

What does campaign success or failure really look like? Marketers are always focused on front-end metrics like click-through rate, engagement, or customer acquisition cost to measure campaign ROI. However, in my opinion, those metrics aren’t enough.

I believe marketers and advertisers should consider including audience quality as a new metric for ROI measurement. For example, if you learn that bad data segments were used for ad targeting, you’ll know that your creative simply wasn’t reaching the right people. Next time you launch a campaign, you’ll be able to ensure that your lists are appropriate and accurate.

Once you know that your audience is right, you can measure the impact your ads are having on them. If your creative doesn’t seem to be resonating with your audience, you can revisit your placement and creative and optimize your campaign as needed.

Audience data tells the real story behind the metrics. By measuring your audience data quality and ad impact, you can then focus on the front-end metrics that also impact ROI. In short, the next time someone says, “I don’t like that ad,” you should be able to say with confidence that the “right” person saw it and was judging it.

Taking all metrics into consideration, you’ll gain a clearer view of your advertising successes and challenges; and, you’ll be significantly better equipped to ensure more campaign wins in the future.

Kumar Doshi

VP Marketing at Lucid

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