Digital Audience Targeting Using an Audience Mapping Framework

A cornerstone of modern media buying involves using innovative audience targeting methods.

These methods ensure the right prospects or customers see your messages at just the right moment. Your audience is your most valuable asset and getting your marketing personas to map across to your digital advertising campaigns will ensure relevant and profitable campaigns.

In order to assist marketers with this, we’ve developed a methodology that we call ‘audience mapping,’ which forms an integral part of the Bench media campaign framework.

Don’t Make Your Audiences An Afterthought

The starting point for any audience mapping exercise is to translate marketing strategy into a media-focused campaign plan.

At Bench, the starting point for this is the platform’s ‘Discovery’ feature. The Discovery engine creates a media strategy using machine intelligence by analyzing a marketing brief and matching the inputs against the millions of correlating data points collected by the platform from live campaigns.

Some of these inputs include:

  • High-level marketing objectives and specific campaign goals
  • Your product or service purchase cycle and the complexity of the customer journey to establish campaign timing
  • Customer lifetime value (CLTV) in order to ensure that your advertising activity is sustainable
  • Size of the potential ad audience, which affects targeting tactics and channel choices.

Bench Discovery Welcome Screen

Discovery then computes a digital media plan and automatically creates several audience groups based on the output in order to start A/B testing them.

An ‘audience group’ is a categorized target audience i.e. DINKs, Millennials, or pre-defined audience groups such as Helix Personas or GeoTribes.

The definition of these groups should be kept fairly broad so as not to limit their applicability across different online platforms. For instance, “young singles” is preferable to “females, 18-27.”

This may seem counterintuitive to a marketer who is used to creating audience groups based on psychographics and demographics. However, such groups don’t translate consistently and logically to all advertising platforms.

Each platform has a wide variety of targeting options with neither being better or worse than the other. Each platform leverages unique data sources and targeting abilities.

Grouping your audiences into less specific groups will help you find the one that works best for your brand across channels.

Standardization as the Road to Omni-Channel Salvation

Standardizing and categorizing audiences into groups will allow you to compare them against each other across platforms and test different messaging strategies. This ultimately makes your marketing approach more scientific and opens the doors to experimentation.

With such groups, you can then test the following elements of a campaign:

  • Audiences (i.e. first home buyers)
  • Channels (e.g. video, display, social, native etc.)
  • Messages (e.g. promotional offers, tone of voice, messaging angle etc.)

You can also then pit the different audience groups against each other and see which one best meets your campaign goals over time.

This way, your strategy moves beyond focusing on individual channels and you start using audiences as the true north star. At Bench we refer to this as ‘mindset’ planning, which goes beyond simple planning by channel.

With standardized groups, you can start to apply an ‘audience strategy’ to each segment, which is the methodology for reaching your desired audience.

One Audience Group Many Audience Strategies | Bench

Audience Strategy as Compass to Conversion Gold

An audience strategy will be different based on the type of audience group and whether it applies to an existing or new audience.

The following audience strategies can be used for each of the two types.

Strategies for new audiences (aka prospecting):

  • Targeting options
  • Interests (e.g fitness, technology etc)
  • Device (Operating system, mobile, tablet etc)
  • Contextual (e.g based on content of site viewed / keywords)
  • Demographic (e.g gender, age)
  • Psychographic (e.g income, employment, education etc)
  • Behaviour (e.g frequent traveller)
  • Lookalike (custom audience)
  • 3rd Party data.

Strategies for returning audiences (aka retargeting):

  • Targeting (e.g geographic, device)
  • Retargeting (e.g. stage, recency, touch points etc.).

Two Main Audience Targeting Strategies | Bench

After you are clear on your targeting strategy you then need to work out which stages of the purchase funnel to focus your advertising on.

If you aim to run true omni-channel campaigns that support your audiences’ entire purchase path then both prospecting and remarketing will need to be used in tandem to effectively move a prospect through the funnel.

Here’s how a typical marketing funnel maps to the online audience journey:

Buyer Funnel Stage Mapped to Customer Journey | Bench

Make Your Remarketing Remarkable Through Audience Refinement

Audience mapping is an approach that works particularly well for retargeting known customers or prospects. Defining an audience map for remarketing purposes involves looking at the following customer demographic and behavioral characteristics:

  • Product usage / interaction
  • Media source
  • Time to purchase
  • Stage of buying journey
  • Interest in ad message
  • Number of interactions.

While most of these dimensions can be used for mapping a prospecting audience also, certain information may not be available about them that is available for an existing audience e.g.: source & conversion data, past purchase behavior, website visits & cart abandonment.

Not having access to this data will limit you in terms of the advertising tactics that can be used to reach your desired prospecting audience group.

Audience Mapping Dimensions | Bench

From ‘Light Switch’ Marketing to Eternal Omni-Channel Flame

The Bench definition of a ‘campaign’ is different to what is normally referred to as a marketing campaign.

In the Bench framework, a campaign is based on a fixed product or category, rather than a time-based promotion such as a sale or discount.

Media optimization is definitely the name of the game and using such a definition of a campaign helps you to transition to an ‘always-on’ advertising planning model.

Always On Advertising Campaign Planning | Bench

Moving from a time-based to an always-on structure will help improve your campaign performance over time by helping you establish a baseline for your chosen metric and media spend.

Once the baseline is established, you can then actively work towards lowering the cost of customer acquisition with each new campaign while improving overall results.

Always On Campaign Planning Decreases CPA | Bench

An All-in-One Solution for Audience Targeting and Management

Your data management platform (DMP) acts as the centrepiece for storing your advertising audience data.

In order to fully maximize your audience targeting capabilities, you need to have a unified solution that supports audience segmentation and activation across different platforms.

An omni-channel advertising platform should tightly integrate with your DMP in order to help turn this data into profitable ‘always-on’ advertising campaigns.

This blog is the third in a series that examines omnichannel marketing and advertising through the lense of the Bench framework: