What is audience-first and how does it work in Paid Media?

29th March 2018 - 9 minutes read  PPC
Richard Hartley - Biddable Media Director

There’s no denying the power of a nuanced advertising approach in the paid social sphere. Premium native ads can deliver 400% higher click-through-rates than regular display ads on mobile devices. So how can you take that potential from premium native social advertising and expand it? The key is an audience-first marketing model.

What is “audience-first”? And what does it mean for digital marketing? Well, audiences’ needs and demands are changing. They want a more personalised approach, a more intelligent approach — and audience-first marketing is all about meeting those needs and demands. And it gets results.

Understanding your audience and using an effective audience-first model is crucial to engaging them, getting click-throughs, and, ultimately, running an effective campaign. It requires a deeper, broader understanding of your target audience — not just who they are, but exactly how they work. What do they want? What makes them click-through? What’s stopped them from becoming a customer already?

And it all starts with data. Data-driven paid media means delving deeper into your customer information. This will allow you to have a more comprehensive understanding of your audience and allow you to cater to their needs and expectations — and create conversions.

What Paid Media Can Be Audience-First?

In a sense, everything you do can be audience-first, if you truly integrate the audience-first mindset into your marketing strategy. New trends show that we can build on the more audience-oriented paid social strategies of the past and, using that data, we can move it to paid media more generally.

When it comes to paid searches, audience-first can be an invaluable tool. 20% of all Google traffic is audience addressable — and that number is growing. That means we know who’s searching and we can tailor results accordingly. With Google Search Network you have an incredible flexibility to bid up to 300% more than you would normally spend or reduce your bids by up to minus 100% of what you normally spend, using criteria like location, time, or device. You can also weigh your bids by age and gender, meaning that your ads are reaching the right audience.

From a PPC perspective, you can use Google AdWords to take more control over paid media like videos, banners, and even text ads. You can target by placement and keywords, making sure your ads are reaching relevant audiences who will actually convert. Paid social, of course, is a perfect arena for audience-first marketing — and though it’s still relatively embryonic, it’s continues to grow in exciting ways.

Affinity And In-Market Audiences Present Even More Potential

If you want to move beyond age, gender, and location demographics, your marketing strategy can now delve even deeper. Using custom Affinity Audiences in Google Adwords and in-market audiences, digital marketing experts can curate a truly individual experience for the audiences most likely to convert to consumers. Affinity Audiences lets you create an audience based off of more specific, intelligent criteria — while in-market audiences are already shopping and purchasing in your industry. The future is audience data powering paid media. And the best part is, you know know that they’re already interested in what you’re doing, so your budget is only going where it counts.

Overlay For A More Powerful Tool

The real power of an audience-first approach comes when you’re overlap and overlay different information, rather than wasting money in inefficient tunnels that lead to nowhere. A digital marketing strategy that overlays Google search data and income data or Facebook information and search interests can ensure audiences with the most potential. As data sharing becomes more transparent thanks to measure like GDPR, it will also become more thorough and fruitful. The right marketing strategy will know how the different channels can work together.

But What Does It Look Like?

“Audience-first” can sound like an ambiguous term, but you’ll know it when you see it. The future of audience-first engagement is mobile, it’s hyper-personal, and it’s segmented. Currently over over 69% of digital media engagement happens on mobile devices — so if you want to reach audiences in way that feels true to them, having a dedicated, nuanced mobile strategy is key. By segmenting audiences into smaller groups, you can target audiences more effectively. The smaller the group, them more effectively your ads will represent them. It can create a lot of extra work — but the payout is worth it. The more ads and content you have, the more targeted it can be.

Will It Be Live?

Live media is also an important trend to consider. Facebook data shows that individuals spend 300% more time watching live video than they do watching pre-recorded content. And 82% of consumers would rather see live video than other social media posts. For many demographics, being able to provide a combination of live and pre-recorded materials will be key. Though live video might not seem a natural fit for every industry, a well-built strategy will help you incorporate all available resources.

Why Audience First?

The advantages of an audience-first marketing approach are clear: it’s about quality over quantity. Rather than a more-is-better approach, audience-first embraces the idea that a more tailored strategy is a more powerful option. In fact, one sperm cryobank used an audience-first strategy and found the result was an astounding 14,285.71% ROI. How was it so powerful? Well, a mix of audience-first initiatives. From targeting a very specific demographic, mining keywords, use geo-targeting, and, ultimately, a powerful social media campaign, their resources were addressing the right audience in the right way. And it worked.

There’s also a more fundamental advantage: audience expectation is rising. More and more, consumers expect a personalized experience. They want their ads to sound authentic, but also to be convenient and relevant. And a wrongly-placed or badly-worded ad can turn off a potential consumer in an instant. Audience-first, data-driven digital marketing ensures that their expectations are being met. And audiences who feel heard are more likely to convert.

Is it Worth It?

There’s no denying that an audience-first approach takes a lot of work. It requires a huge amount of energy and expertise to synthesize a deep understanding of data from so many different channels and then design a data-driven paid media strategy. And incorporating social and live video in a way that feels authentic to your company isn’t always an easy feat. It means more ads, done smarter, and delivered to the right people — and that can be a huge undertaking.

But there’s also no doubt that it’s worth it. Firstly, an audience-first approach can give sky-high ROIs — 14,285.71% is nothing to scoff at. There’s no need to waste energy and resources on blanket advertising doesn’t work. Even beyond the immediate numbers, a personalized approach creates customer loyalty. The more audience-centered the approach, the more relevant you feel to your customers. And when they feel understood, they’re more likely to stay. So in the short and long term, audience-first pays off.

If you want to talk about how an audience-first approach to Paid Media could help your brand, then don’t hesitate to get in touch and talk to an expert here at Found.