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!

Aspirations, Being Replaced By Trends?

Ranjan Nautiyal, Creative Director, BC Web Wise

Writer At BC Web Wise

A lot is said about targeted advertising. That it reaches only the right people, at just the right time. That it is the perfect push, sending across the message to the perfect target audience, at that point in his or her day when they just couldn’t have done without your product. That there is more bang for buck, and that relevant advertising saves spill-over.

So no toddler will ever watch a shaving cream ad, or a teenager a diaper ad, or a married couple a college ad, or an old couple a new house ad.

Which brings us to the spill-over effect called aspiration.

Many of us grew up watching beer ads that we instinctively reached for once we crossed over to the drinking age. The bikes on our must-have lists continue to be dreams, but they have been parked there since the time our legs couldn’t reach the gear-shift. Someday, the teen out there will be a father who will see a diaper brand at a retail store and pick it up as a feeling of familiarity will run through his veins, unknown to him, as he watches it on the store shelf. A woman who just got married will take one look at a spice brand and without knowing exactly where she had seen it last, will pick it up, connecting it loosely with her childhood days.

It is well known now that the internet has narrowed our vision, killed our spirit of exploration by serving up things according to our known interests. And if treated by brands only as a means of targeting to minimise spill-overs, it might stop reaching people who would have otherwise grown up dreaming of it, aspiring to own it some day.

Which doesn’t quite mean that targetting is all bad, or misplaced. But it has a role to play. The medium itself needs to go beyond, and start sooner. And deliberately reach out to an audience that may not be in the buying stage, but is in one that will make it aspire to brands, and dream of holding them some day.

Or we will soon run out of brands, and only have trends that pass on with a generation.

Is SEO Going The Way Of The Dodo Or Is It More Like The Phoenix?

If you are using the internet to search for information then you will probably use a search engine, such as Google or Yahoo. The beauty of a search engine is that you can be as specific or vague about the information you Prasad Pillairequire and it will give you results. As a user this is very useful as it will give you hundreds of pages of potential sites. From a business point of view this is very bad. If, for example, you are running a small bicycle repair website, your website may be ranked 500th on a list. Most users only look at the first two or three pages of search results and you are probably on page 74.

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), is part of a set of tools grouped under the term Search Engine Marketing (SEM). SEM can help move your website up the page rankings, but an integral part of SEM is SEO and it is the future of this that we will be looking at here today.

There is talk that SEO is a dying methodology:

If you want to rank high on Google, build a good site and market it the best you know how. Just don’t expect SEO to be the answer to your traffic-related prayers because, increasingly, it won’t be.

But I would tend to disagree, the problem is that there are a lot of people out there who understand the principles of SEO but do not know how to deploy it in their website content. SEO can boost average content up the rankings by effective keyword density. But when people talk about Google being worried by users being ˜underwhelmed with their search results”, this is not Google acting in the best interest of a streamlined globally available knowledge base but Google trying to protect its self-image.

Old School SEO

To understand why this is happening, how this is happening and what we can do about it, we need to understand the origins of SEO. Early search engine algorithms indexed search results using a keyword principle. Going back to our previous example, in the early days of search engines your search for ‘bicycle repair’ would display webpages that have the word ‘bicycle’ and ‘repair’ in their webpage meta tags. Furthermore, it would rank the pages by the number of times those words appeared on that webpage.

White Hat SEO

White Hat SEO

Like the hacker term, white hat means ethical. So a white hat search engine optimiser will populate their meta tags with enough keywords to give the page a decent ranking while still being true to the content.

Black Hat SEO

Inversely, a black hat optimiser will flood their meta tags and page with every keyword they can think of, even if it is unrelated to the theme of the site, in order to improve their rankings.

This is probably why people developed a bad taste for SEO. Because it is easy to manipulate, it has an underhanded hue about it.

Google

In 1998, Google appeared on the internet and was an instant success. Google is not a fan of having their search and indexing algorithms manipulated so employ other factors into their indexing. This countered some of the more aggressive SEO techniques and resulted in users having better access to more relevant content. Google also looks at links, the site map of the website, pictures and videos used etc. etc. Google also offer paid services to allow companies to advertise their site or push their site up the rankings.

The end of SEO?

With Google being the weapon of choice for more than half the web searches done, globally, and Google’s abhorrence to SEO, an opinion which they neatly double underlined in 2013, when they stopped publishing data on keyword popularity. After this, web marketing operators and analysts hinted that this may be the final nail in the coffin for keyword based optimisation. This, however, is simply not the case.

Content Is King

In the beginning, SEO was a way of increasing your page ranking by effective use of meta tags, and for a while this was good. Then Google threw a spanner in the works, introduced a whole new set of web marketing tools and began to beat SEO with the wet end.

Google’s defence is that users should be provided with quality content and not manipulated onto websites which are either poorly conceived but expertly marketed or purely exist for malicious purposes. So SEO needs to evolve, if Google wants content to be king, and let’s face it, if Google is God, then that is where SEO needs to go.

The SEO Phoenix

The current market for SEO related material is for short articles about specific content that has specific keywords in it, the same old SEO we know. But the focus has shifted from keyword stuffed titles and content to the production of actual articles. Instead of writing SEO off as extinct, we should be looking to the future.

Google has been pushing for this for a few years, that is why it surprised me when I came here in January to see that Etsy is using the “Search Engine Manipulation” model of SEO, which Google hates. That is why I am VERY Careful how I list, and title my items, I try to balance the two with leaning a bit more toward Google. (discussion board post: https://www.etsy.com/in-en/teams/7718/questions/discuss/14919048/page/2?post_id=232445881)

From the ashes of failed keyword stuffed articles comes an opportunity for SEO companies and writers to apply tried and tested SEO strategies to a client’s existing content. Keywords are always going to be used by search engines. Instead of employing black hat techniques like Etsy’s spamdexing to counter sophisticated algorithms, SEO needs to evolve into a highly specialised writing craft, a craft where informed creative writing, by quality writers who know how to research a topic, is used to enhance a website’s content and therefore page ranking. As long as the web, as we know it, exists, keywords will continue to be relevant. SEO isn’t going anywhere, it is us, the optimisers who need to adapt in our approach to SEO to make it work for both the companies that employ us and the search engines that scrutinise our content.