Knowing me, knowing you: five tips on determining your target audience

binary dataMost data that drives advertising is lifeless; old, lacking context and most importantly, relevance. Achieving high engagement and conversion rates requires you to know your audience as well as you know your own brand, before you can provide a genuine value exchange.

So how can you get even closer to your audience? Here are five ideas to consider:

Social log-ins – it’s a whole new game: Increasingly social media users understand the deal – they give their personal details in return for valuable content. This interaction is key to reaching a new level of understanding your audience. We’re beginning to see a shift in thinking and a recognition that, by providing access to the richness and granularity of social data, customers are allowing brands to understand their affinities.  Be upfront and civilised about the value exchange and it will benefit everyone involved.

What does relevance really mean? Everybody knows about the need for a brand to be relevant to customers. Fewer understand that the customer needs to be relevant to the brand too. Only when the two match do you get an effective engagement. As more and more ad inventory goes onto the market so the importance of the match increases with it.

Move beyond cookies: To date, content recommendations have relied on data acquired through cookies – but cookies are contactless, time sensitive and don’t apply to access via mobiles. Newer methods involve combining real-time browser information with personal social data to unlock a more intimate understanding.

Make it human:  Most computers act like – well – computers. They don’t make easy assumptions as humans do. For example, the term ‘soul food’ to a Frenchwoman means ratatouille, but to an American teenager it means fried chicken. Yet, technological advances are enabling brands to understand the contextual relevance of subject matters and make these connections automatically and in real-time.

Forget footprint, think fingerprint – It’s no longer a numbers game but a quality game. Getting it right can produce click-through rates of 15 – 30 times the average or more with the same number of visitors. Generally marketers now have a good understanding of ‘intent’ or online behaviour. But whereas this can change with every visit, a customer’s core ‘interests’ remain relatively stable. Until recently these were difficult to track, but social media makes this far easier, enabling us to better assess likelihood to buy and to identify further areas of interest. We can now distil hundreds of thousands of data points into a highly-accurate, ranked list of keyword interests for each visitor and create a core interest fingerprint.

Of course, personalisation of content isn’t new. However, now through social media we can understand customers at a much deeper and individual level – and do so when the information is needed, in real-time as they browse a site.

Jonathan Lakin is chief executive of Intent HQ