Micro Targeting Using Paid and Owned Media

Vishal Agrahari, Media Head, BC Web Wise

Vishal Agrahari, Media Head

A much more specific form of market segmentation is possible today, as opposed to the generic profiling of consumers that erstwhile marketers used to conduct. This provides impetus to micro targeting- personalized marketing tactics relevant for a small, well-defined group, in contrast to large-scale campaigns for broad segments.

The need for narrower segmenting, and coming up with well defined groups in order to streamline your marketing efforts, has made micro targeting gain increasing prominence.

The Crux of Micro targeting

With its original roots in the political arena of tracking, segmenting and subsequently influencing individual voting behaviors in major election campaigns, micro targeting has come a long way.

The crux of micro targeting lies in the fundamental concept that the more precise you are in tracking the needs, wants and attitudes of your potential customers, the wider are your chances of reaching out to them exactly when and how they want you to. In line with this requirement, the recent years have witnessed a rise in the micro targeting options provided by social media giants like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, that include Reach Blocks, Page Post Links, Promoted Posts, Geo targeting, Sponsored Updates and so on.

For instance, if you are an e-commerce store selling anti-ageing products for women above the age of 40 years, creating a micro targeted Facebook ad would be a powerful way of reaching out to your target audience. Apart from specifying the location ( a cluster of cities, 10-50 miles in the vicinity of each other can be chosen for one ad), age (40 and above), gender (female), general interests (Health and Well Being) and precise interests (Beauty Products/Cosmetics/Beauty Tips/Anti Ageing), you also have advanced targeting (http://www.practicalecommerce.com/articles/4127-How-to-Target-Facebook-Ads-to-your-Audience ) options like custom audiences and lookalike audiences.

In 2013, Twitter introduced TV Targeting which is yet another powerful way of targeting specific groups, by channelizing real time content and ads to target the increasing number of consumers who watch TV on their smartphones or tabs. Aptly categorized into TV Ad Targeting and TV Conversation Targeting, a number of brands like Adidas, Jaguar and Holiday Inn reaping its benefits. (https://business.twitter.com/tv-targeting )

Owned Media: Micro Targeting for Long-Term Relationships

There is often a very thin line that demarcates micro targeting and intrusive marketing, and this can be understood better by clearly defining your short-term and long-term marketing objectives, validating your data, and paying genuine attention towards what your customers really want. The basic principle is to understand when and where the potential customer is actually looking for information, and reaching out to them only then.

Marketers tend to cross the line and become intrusive when they try to force their offerings upon customers when they are not looking for it. So no matter how alluring an offer on a random, unwarranted pop-up ad might be, it will in all probability be found to be intrusive (and annoying) by a potential customer. On the other hand, putting your best foot forward where the end-user is actually looking for a good offer, is the way to go in micro targeting. For instance, the behaviorally targeted ads of Amazon and EBay, based upon the search history and browsing patterns of users have enabled thousands of e-commerce stores to reach out to the right consumers, at the right time and right place.

As far as cost effectiveness, control, versatility and establishing a long-term rapport with a nice audience is concerned, your owned media channels will always provide you with an upper hand. In fact, the right use of owned media micro targeting techniques can work wonders for your marketing campaign. And with all the clutter that customers finds around themselves today, it is equally important to create high-impact, engaging and personalized content to stand out in the sea of mediocrity.

Stepping out of the realm of social media, even online communities offer vast potential for micro-targeting. The Geo-Educator Community formed by National Geographic has been pivotal in increasing the brand’s engagement levels with the teaching community across the world. Even the simplest of features in your owned media channels can be harnessed for targeting specific groups. For example, you can customize your Facebook pages with different custom banners or cover photos for different groups, rather than having a standardized banner for all. So if you are selling a product for pre-teens and teens, and you want to drive a message across to parents as well, your customized banners will enable you to micro target these groups separately, and in the most effective manner.

Paid Media Micro Targeting: Broadening Your Horizons

Very often, well-charted and high-budget marketing campaigns fail to bring in results, because it failed to reach the right audience at the right time. For reaching out to the group that is most relevant to your organization, opting for paid media micro targeting options, such as display ads, paid search sponsorship, or even outsourcing your requirements to an established digital marketing company, is necessary.

While owned media has its own significant role to play in projecting your brand, its scope will always remain limited. Take for instance, the significant role of micro targeting in movie promotions, as opposed to the kind of promotional activities that were conducted a decade earlier. With teasers and trailers going viral on YouTube, and content being directed towards key audiences groups on Twitter and Facebook, digital micro targeting has been instrumental in the success of many movies today. Who would have thought that a limited release, $5-million budget movie like Spring Breakers, would gross $31 million purely on account of its social media campaign, intensively targeting teenagers and youngsters on Twitter and Facebook.

The magic of micro targeting is also evident in the realm of book promotions. In the words of renowned Author Amish Tripathi, who is accredited with the fastest selling book series in the history of Indian publishing, it was the digital media that came to his rescue, when the mainstream media ignored his books. By providing the first chapter of ‘The Immortals of Meluha’ for free on his Facebook page generating instant word-of-mouth, and targeting YouTube users by creating a short, high-impact YouTube trailer based on his book (the first of its kind in the history of Indian Publishing), he was successful in selling 1.7 million copies of the book, and has paved the way for other Indian writers to follow similar digital marketing techniques today.

The Way Ahead

The key to success in micro targeting lies in focusing on the relevance of the parameters that you use for categorizing your target groups. Once you get the basis of your categorization or profiling right, it becomes easier to focus on your audience, thoroughly understand their needs and sensibilities. Leveraging multichannel campaigns with a combination of owned and paid media channels, is what comes next. For all the digital marketing professionals who haven’t started their journey in micro targeting, the time is ripe to commence now!

Are EdgeRank Changes Affecting Reach & Engagement With Facebook Fans?

In our previous post on Facebook Offers we pointed out just how Edgerank can limit the number of fans who will see your post. For first timers, EdgeRank is an algorithm used by Facebook which enables its content evaluation engine to decide what content should be displayed to Facebook members and how high it should appear in their newsfeed. It essentially also limits your reach allowing not more than 16 % of your total fan base to see a post.

What’s New From EdgeRank?
It appears now that cracking Edgerank’s algorithm may have just got a lot tougher. In other words just like Search Engine Optimization techniques have had to keep evolving and work harder to keep your website up on the search engines page one and top five listing keeping pace with the algorithms of your search engine, so too does your content strategy and fan engagement program on Facebook have to keep up with the latest from EdgeRank.

This blog post from Edgerankchecker.com analysed data on reach and engagement in between September and October 2012 to see how Edgerank’s algorithm may have affected reach and engagement.

It becomes clear that there is no single pattern to what kind of posts were suddenly working or not, what became fairly evident was that reach was getting stifled. The study further analyses and points out that brands that opt for status updates over photo updates would have not seen much of an impact or a decrease in engagement, whereas those that used more of a photo update strategy might have seen their engagement levels decreasing. Why so?

What Kind Of Updates Work For Fans?
Photo updates have unfailingly demonstrated that the engagement levels are far higher than (text) status updates (no wonder Facebook decided to buy Instagram). So there may be no reason to give this up. However the study dwells further to demonstrate that brands that used `spammy’ photo posts or posts not very relevant to the brand universe — used photos for the sake of photos — as an engagement strategy were getting affected.

If your brands photo status updates is getting negative feedback for instance, it is likely that EdgeRank algorithm is pushing you down the ladder.

Monitor The Quality Of Engagement
Fortunately there is a Real Time Facebook Analytics Monitor that can help you track the sentiments of your fans in real time to make sure you are taking timely corrective action to keep the engagement going. You can check the Dummy’s Guide to EdgeRank just to be sure you are on the right track as far as your engagement strategy is concerned.

What Facebook Has To Say
Will Carth product manager at Facebook spoke to Techcrunch and said: “We made a relatively large ranking change in September that was designed to reduce spam complaints from users. We used [spam] reports at an aggregate level to find Pages or apps generating a lot of reports [and decrease their reach]. We’ve also added personalized attempts to reduce presence of posts you’re likely to complain about.”

Basically if you never click, Like, comment, or share posts by a Page, Facebook made that Page less likely to show up in your feed. Cathcart says “That’s a relatively large change.” It resulted in a large decrease in spam reports, meaning it succesfully made the Facebook news feed better.

Our Analysis
We have a final take home that should be acknowledged even as you attempt to follow best practices in Facebook engagement.

The Facebook fan is socializing and is making more friends every day and also following/liking more brand/community/corporate pages everyday. There are only so many updates that the Facebook user can see in a day on their wall. There is more competition out there everyday. Not just from brands but friends and family and new people out there that your fans are interacting with. It is but evident that organic share of voice will have to fight against a larger crowd everyday, and your reach is going to get affected.

The Recommendation
Keep focusing on engagement, keep it fresh and interesting, experiment, see what works, acknowledge there will be one-offs and progressively add inorganic or paid reach to boost your organic reach on Facebook.

Facebook Introduces Offers, Share exclusive offers only with Facebook fans for free!

It appears that in a bid to become advertiser friendly, and get closer to delivering ROI, Facebook has introduced Offers. With this option, brands can now provide exclusive offers to their Facebook fans via status updates. Facebook evidently also hopes that these posts will be further promoted by brands to reach a larger audience.

Facebook Offers

Facebook Offers Display

This is how it appears on the page next to Status Updates:

The way in which you post an offer further has 3 options:

Options for Facebook Offers Posting

This appears to be in beta as not all brand pages have it, so don’t be surprised if your brand page is not showing up this option. May be you could contact your Facebook relationship manager to get this enabled for you.

The brands we stumbled across using this feature is the etailer brand Fashionandyou.com and firstcry.com on its fan page.

Fashionandyou.com Facebook Offers
First Cry Offer on Facebook Availed By Fan

Once a fan avails of an offer, you get further visibility as their engagement becomes known to their friends.

Clearly Facebook is exploring newer and relevant means to appeal to the brands that are using its platform to engage with an audience, and hoping that these measures will help to increase advertising spends on the social network. After all with General Motors announcing that it was pulling out of Facebook, did send ripples in the market questioning Facebook’s advertising’s efficacy.

Further unlike a Google that has been focusing its sales pitch on ROI, the social network has had done little to build and market advertiser-led case studies , even while it attempts to assist marketers with analysis at a click on the reach and engagement your Facebook initiatives have managed to achieve.

But the real question is that just like Google’s practices that can be questioned particularly when it comes to PPC, and its algorithms can regularly challenge many an SEO expert (search engine optimization) equally challenging is Facebook’s own mechanisms of ensuring that a limited number of users only can see your posting. Facebook has the Edgerank.

Not more than 16 per cent of your Facebook friends can see a wall post or status update. While you can adopt various strategies to try to increase the reach, fact is that all of this requires more hard work and resources, and use the `promote‘ feature and `offers’ feature might just help you reach many more of those audiences faster!