Personalisation: “To make or alter so…

Personalisation: “To make or alter so as to meet individual needs”

Unless your campaign is a brand launch with the sole objective of increasing brand awareness or your product/service is appealing to those of all ages, gender or life stage (i.e. a soft drink) – all campaigns should be designed with the actual and not the assumed consumer in mind.


Back in 2011, I worked on a piece of ground breaking research that showcased the positive impact on a brand if a consumer was given the choice of what pre-roll ad to see before their chosen video content. The ad unit was called the ‘Ad Selector’ and it was all about giving consumers advertising choice – the first of its kind in Australia. The results spoke for themselves. All of those who were exposed to the Ad Selector product and selected an ad had a much higher result across all brand metrics; Awareness, Purchase Intention, Consideration, etc. Whilst presenting these results, I got a bit of push-back from someone in the crowd who didn’t believe that this was an effective way to reach a target audience. They believed it was a nuisance making the consumer select an ad and saw it more as a gimmick than anything else. Maybe it was, but when I asked him “so you’re happy to be served ads about tampons?” his response was “well, no….”

Basically, people want to see ads that are relevant to them. With the Ad Selector unit, 35% stated they selected the ad that was relevant to them, and this was without ANY form of targeting. Imagine the results if we could have put a minimal amount of targeting into it?

Flash forward 5 years to 2016 and we don’t NEED to ask audiences what ad they want to see because we already know. We know their interests, purchase intentions, preferred device, favoured content, demographics, life stage and cycle, and most importantly where to reach them.  It now seems unbelievable that we served ads to such wide audiences about whom we knew virtually nothing about. The sad thing is, we still do. If we can only reach those in the market for your product or service, or who have shown an interest in your brand, then why waste precious dollars and spray your ads everywhere hoping to reach the right people?

Never before have we known as much about consumers as we do now, and it’s only going to get more personal. This brings me to my new favourite buzzword – ‘Personalisation’.

For anyone who attended the AdTech conference in Sydney, Australia in mid-March, you would have heard about personalisation being key to marketing success. Whether it’s with advertising, content planning, eDM’s – whatever. The best way to minimize financial waste and to maximize brand impact is to understand who your consumers are, what they want and then deliver personal content at the right time and place. If it all sounds too easy, well, it is.

Hitwise, a division of Connexity specialises in this area, and has for many years. Every day we’re working with clients to help them better understand their industry and online audiences. The ones searching for their product, visitors to their website, and even the ones looking at product (and not yet at brand) level. We recently worked with a high end SUV client to assist them to better understand their consumer base and we immediately found that they were making 2 common mistakes; ones which I see all the time, and are easily fixed.

1. They were targeting by gender and age.dco-targeting

According to their offline research, those who ticked the box that they intend to buy this particular SUV in the next 12 months were Males 35-54.

Those that have heard me speak before will know that I am no longer a fan of targeting by age or gender (unless it’s gender specific, like feminine hygiene products). Women are no longer just the main grocery buyer and men are no longer solely responsible for everything car or finance related. Times have changed a lot since 1960 (thankfully), so our media planning needs to as well. In order to understand how different people are, try this. Think of five people from your class at school who are the same gender as you. Now profile each of those – wealth, health, life stage, attitudes, etc. All the same age and gender but I am guessing ALL with very different needs. Some married, some single. Some rich, some poor. Some all about the ‘show’, others don’t care if it’s Prada or Praba . You get my drift. Whilst you may argue that age brackets cover a large portion of your target audience, it also includes a fair chunk of people who aren’t, so why waste your money reaching them? Wouldn’t you rather only reach those who are in the market for what you have to offer?

graphic2. The insights they were using were based on offline research.

I get it. Digital data is a little daunting. It’s crept up on us all so quickly. Why break away from the good, old, reliable traditional research house for the new kid on the block?  Well, because the new kid is the future and you need to be a part of it.

With the amount of valuable online consumer data available, we need to stop relying on old school insights. According to the Internet World Stats website, 93% of Australian’s were online last year and a lot of them were using it as a research and/or purchase platform when in the market for a new (or used) product or service.  Surely it would be the best place to gain your insight? Not only is it more accurate than recalled diarised behaviour, but you are able to gain a much greater insight into your audience. Gain a true understanding of who they are – and I don’t mean demographically. Build an online panel of those who have been flagged as a current or potential customer and get to know the real them. What else are they in the market for? What competitor brands are they looking at and do you know who they are? Where are they in the purchase cycle?  How loyal are they to your brand? This kind of data is where the gold is.

The other powerful approach of using online search and behavioural data is that you are able to determine your target audience’s interests and reach them in those environments. For example, if someone has searched for “buy a new car”, and/or “car loans” and has visited one of the many automotive websites then you can strongly assume that they are in the market for a new car. Sure, advertising on an automotive classifieds site is a given, but the potential for an even greater impact is targeting your potential consumers where your competitors are not. For example, a strong common theme for new car buyers is life stage. Up-sizing/downsizing to reflect family, new (serious) relationship, retirement and even divorce. From this you can decipher what sites they’ll be visiting, within these themes. Parenting, wedding, real estate and super – just to name a few. By knowing this, you can also tailor make your creative and content to resonate more strongly with your consumers. Divorcees and newlyweds most likely fall in the same age bracket, but would you want to serve them the same creative on, say Valentine’s Day? Probably not.   Yes, it will take more work building five creative campaigns and not just one, but the payback on a personalised campaign will make the hard work worth it.

Personalisation isn’t just a buzzword. It’s the way of the future for marketing and advertising.

Alice Almeida, Manager of Innovation and Insights


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