All posts by Desiree Tunstall

Are Marketers with Hard-to-Reach Audiences Left Out of Digital?

By | Advertising Agencies, Education, Ethnic Advertising, Ethnic Targeting, Multicultural Agencies | No Comments

If you’re a marketer with a product or service for a hard-to-reach, US-based demographic, is there hope for you in digital? Your audience may be online, but how can you reach them with targeted, relevant messages that cultivate brand-to-consumer relationships?

Digital affords marketers enhanced tracking, measurement and retargeting capabilities – all designed to reach the right audience quickly, use ad dollars effectively and measure return on ad spend accurately. With so few US digital media companies dedicated to these audiences, where’s a marketer to go? For example, if you wanted to reach Haitians, Guatemalans, Somalians, Vietnamese and/or Filipinos online, how do you find them?

(In case you’re wondering, “Who’s trying to reach a demographic that specific?”, keep in mind that as the US population grows, so does its diversity. There are millions of products and services, with a host of marketers who need to reach these audiences. Examples: Financial services, insurance, telecommunications, remittance services, education, travel, consumer packaged goods, etc. Ethnic advertising is imperative to a marketer’s strategy.)

Search is a viable digital solution, but that is the audience finding the marketer, not the other way around. Data providers can also be of help, depending upon the demographic data they gather. Data providers leverage consumer information from the US Census, credit agencies and loyalty card programs, among other sources. Even in instances where the sources gather ethnic background, it’s in high-level buckets – White, Black, Hispanic, Asian, Other.

In the absence of digital solutions, marketers in this category still have several options, including:

Affiliate Programs:  Affiliates are a consistent go-to for marketers who need to find a diamond in the rough. These programs are easily tracked because that is how the affiliate is paid. But what’s harder to track, is how the affiliate converted prospects to consumers. What did the affiliate say and how did they position the marketer’s message? Some may argue that this doesn’t matter – a customer is a customer. The problem is, if you don’t know how you got them, how can you keep them? The customer acquisition process reveals a lot about a marketer’s product and what attracts customers. Without those insights, marketers are missing something valuable.

Events:  Events enable marketers to connect with hard-to-reach audiences in the consumer’s environment. Event-based marketing is a strong method to develop brand presence and create opportunities for brand engagement. Of course most event-based marketing doesn’t scale, but scale is overrated. If you’re reaching the right people, you don’t need to reach everyone.

Ethnic TV & Print:  Ethnic TV and print are an efficient way to connect with hard-to-reach demographics, but present classic traditional media challenges around tracking and measurement.

Radio:  Radio is a traditional media channel similar to TV and print, but is worthy of independent consideration for two reasons. First, audio consumption often mirrors demographic segments, and second, the growing availability of international radio online in the US enables marketers to target, track and measure these hard-to-reach audiences.

AudioNow, a Washington, DC-based publisher, is a prime example of the effectiveness of this medium. AudioNow listeners, representing 65+ ethnic groups located in the United States, can listen to content from their home countries via phone – using either their data or minutes plans. Unlike traditional radio, AudioNow listeners are able to engage with ads either through clicks or pressing a button on the phone to receive a text, connect to a call center or hear an extended ad. TuneIn has a comparable offering with people being able to consume international radio via app and web and leverage companion ads to measure engagement. Actionable insights on ethnic audiences are hard to come by but are incredibly valuable to measuring return on ad spend.

Marketers connecting with hard-to-reach audiences certainly have more work to do to find their consumers, but digital media producers and sellers also have more to do to make these audiences easier to access.

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