Data-driven targeting is the key to marketing success

IHG’s Holiday Inn HotelsThe best product in the world, with the best ad in the world, won’t sell if it isn’t seen by the right audience. It seems an obvious point, but the reasons behind failed campaigns are all too often down to the strategy and execution rather than the creative, brand or product.

Historically, targeted marketing has been based around taking the most obvious data – such as where people shop and what they buy – and using it in its crudest form to make broad assumptions about the individual. But using online surveys of consumers that uncover the brands and categories that they currently use, have used, and are open to using in the future, brands can identify a growth segment of consumers.

The growth segment is essentially the identification of people who are most likely to spend more with those specific brands or categories in the future. It is then possible to create look-alike models by combining the data with online and purchase behaviour to scale these segments into audiences of millions of similar consumers to be targeted directly by the brand’s digital campaign, whether through online video, social, mobile or other platforms.

There are a number of brands that are already using data-driven targeting and reaping the rewards. For example, TNS worked with IHG’s Holiday Inn Hotels to analyse online behaviour and more traditional research data to understand the brand preferences of frequent travellers.

As a result, the group has identified the mind-set of a large group of‘undecided consumers when it comes to hotel preferences. They saw that within this group, those exposed to the advertising were 38% more likely to consider staying at a Holiday Inn Hotel. This insight enabled them to increase spend on a targeted advertising campaign which drove an astonishing 514% uplift in people starting the booking process via their site.

Another brand that has seen success is TravelNevada. The state’s tourism board looked to increase leads on their website from potential travellers through relevant media buys. We uncovered several thousand people, using a survey, with either past Nevada travel or future intent to travel to Nevada, and scaled this group to find millions of travelers with similar behaviors. As a result of a more targeted approach, TravelNevada saw a 26% lift in conversion rate on their website from interested travellers, compared to all other targeting methods using the same creative and demographic data.

Looking to the future, audience segmentation has gone real-time, and industry competition means that brands increasingly need to build consumer profiles that are constantly tracking what people like, what they buy, how they buy it and millions of other digital interactions on an on-going basis. The demand for this is only going to become more pressing. The increasing saturation of markets will ensure that smarter and more advanced segmentation become imperative and customer data will sit at the heart of this. Brands that fail to update and invest in connecting data to their digital targeting strategies are in danger of falling behind.

Phil Maves is director at TNS