Targeting Is Like Dating, Without Indigestion

It’s Sunday evening, the time of week most statistically desirable for online dating. As you log into your imaginary profile on your imaginary site, created for the purpose of this story, you decide that you’re looking for a nice guy. That’s it. Someone to accompany you to the movies and not judge when you sneak in your own popcorn. Someone to go for a jog on Saturday mornings that eventually turns into a casual walk to the yogurt shop. Someone to attend your company’s holiday party, dress nicely, speak crisply and not drink too much. The initial asks are basic.

Once you log in however, and see the myriad of selections, the asks grow. Now Mr. Nice needs to be 6’4″, have the muscular structure of a clay figurine, Samson’s hair and a Master’s degree. Before you know it, you’ve asked FindMrRightNow.com to produce a fantasy or Jason Mamoa, also known as a living fantasy. Needless to say, search results are slim and while it’s every gal’s dream to have Roman Reigns within a 25 mile radius of her apartment, it just doesn’t work that way.

That’s the beauty and curse of targeting. It allows you to specify exactly what you want and where you want it, but once you finish specifying, is there is anything left?

In advertising, targeting is a valuable tool that helps advertisers not waste their dollars. It is inherently designed to help them connect with their desired audience quickly and efficiently. Without it, advertisers would spend countless amounts reaching everyone with the hope of resonating with a few. However, too much targeting, like online dating, can lead to narrow and fruitless results.

A more fruitful exercise is to determine the bare minimum of what’s required. Is your product strictly for women? Fine. Are stores located in the NYC Metro area only? Fine. Does your product marketing research demonstrate that it works best for women 18 to 35? Fine. These targeting parameters all make sense and are easily accomplished in most mediums, including audio. But what often happens next is a series of assumptions that narrow the scope of the campaign and limit your prospective customer pool.

For example, a company sells yoga pants in wildly colored prints in a style that clearly appeals to younger women. They have several stores in NYC so targeting women, 18 to 35 in the NYC area makes perfect sense. What about going a step further and targeting a specific streaming radio station? A specific time of day? Is that necessary? I say no, not until that audience proves itself to convert at a high rate. A far better tool for determining the right audience is what I will dub “Target Lite + Optimization.” What this means is we start with the basics of targeting – the fundamentals we addressed (e.g. age, gender, location). From there, we run several campaigns in a number of venues and closely monitor performance to determine which channels are working well. Does a particular podcast have a crowd who loves yoga pants and flocks to your stores? Are pure-play music listeners converting between 5PM and 9PM (gym time)? Great! It’s time to invest more money there. But we have to start broad and then narrow. This is especially important when advertising in a new medium.

In order to do this – Target Lite + Optimization – advertisers need to work with companies who don’t just drop their ad dollars in a channel and wait for the campaign to end, but rather monitor spend closely, making fine-tuned adjustments based on the campaign, messaging and call to action. There are a lot of nuances to this process and it’s best done by professionals. Good thing we’re here to help.

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