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Target Like A Boss: How To REALLY Know Your Audience

Posted in Inbound Marketing by Josh Baldwin on 14-Sep-2016 14:55:35

In the world of online marketing it can be really easy to lose touch with your audience - or to not even know who they are in the first place. Josh asked our friend Laura Cox to discuss audiences from a paid digital media perspective.

Laura first started working in digital marketing in 2013 and went on to join the superb team at Search Star in 2014. An experienced media buyer, Laura currently heads up Search Stars programmatic display team. Long story short, what Laura doesn’t know about targeted display ads, frankly just ain't worth knowing. So naturally, inquisitive monkey Josh Baldwin went to pick her brains....

Laura Cox from Search Star

Hey Laura. At the risk of sounding like a true business / marketing wanker, I’d like to raise a quote from Sun Tsu’s The Art Of War: 

“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.” 

In your own experience, how vital is it to know who it is you’re targeting / battling?

Strong quote right there!

In programmatic advertising it's vital to know who it is you’re targeting, as this is what helps you make effective buying decisions with your media - and most importantly makes sure you’re not spraying clients’ money up the wall! For example, if your brief was to sell and advertise high end sports cars worth £100,000+ to those in top businesses, I definitely wouldn’t start by showing them ads on Pinterest. Those ideal buyers just aren’t there!

By knowing who your audience is you can begin to paint a picture, or persona, of them and understand their purchasing behaviour. Once you’ve done this, you can then choose the method of comms most relevant to reach them.

Do you take time to get to know your enemy / build negative personas?

The battling side of things is a lot more complex - and although I don’t actively create negative personas, I do think about who it is I don’t want to see my ad and who I need to exclude. Cost per click is important after all, no point advertising to those who’ll never convert! Going back to the car example, in this particular case I would start thinking about the product itself and the price tag it has. Who could actually afford this? Automatically I'll then add younger demographics to my exclusion strategy and begin excluding certain job roles/levels. I'll even get as granular as excluding people who read broadsheet newspapers!

Do you have any examples of other businesses or brands who have recently really got their message or campaign perfectly tailored to their target customer/audience or anyone who’s just missed the boat entirely?

Last year, whilst working in Australia, I saw an ad campaign for ‘Dumb Ways to Die’ which was created by Metro Trains in response to the large amount of young people dying on train tracks each year. Metro Trains produced a cartoony music video showing loads of stupid ways that the cartoon characters were dying. I thought the campaign came across really well - the message they have to deliver isn’t a happy one, and they went about it in ways that they knew young people would respond to and connect to by making it memorable and a bit tongue in cheek with the ever so slightly morbid cartoon.


 With regards to people that have missed the boat entirely, in our industry it’s really easy to just take note of the bad ads. There are so many too choose from!  

The one ad campaign of note that’s jumped the shark in recent months has to be Puppy Monkey Baby by Mountain Dew Kickstart... Although it is quite catchy!


 How do you go about getting into your audiences shoes or at least figuring out what kinds of shoes they want to buy? Do you have any tools, resources or frameworks that would be useful for marketers who want to build up an audience profile or marketing personas? 

To get into the audiences shoes, normally we'll utilise whatever 1st party data they have in their Google Analytics accounts. We would then see if we can get any industry data from Google or DoubleClick to compare to the larger landscape. Besides things like Google and Double Click, there are a number of 3rd party tools like You Gov profiles that will give you really detailed demographic information. Then I’d normally combine all of this data into an audience persona document, where I can really begin to construct who the target audience is and what it is they want.

Do you have any real horror stories or screaming successes when it comes to nailing your target audience?

Off the top of my head I can think of one real horror story about mismatched targeting… When I was working for Sky TV we were running adverts for the hit film Gone Girl. Unfortunately, some of these ads started to appear besides news articles about Madeleine Mccann... Unfortunately, this does happen from time to time when you're showing ads on inventory like news sites as the content is ever changing. To avoid it, all you can do is have an extensive negative keyword list to block out what you can when you can.

For wins, I've had a lot of successes by going super mega targeted with campaigns. Having personas for specific moments, such as people that are pregnant and in their 3rd trimester, or women who need a bikini to go on holiday in the next 2 weeks... These are the customers that are ready to buy and ready to buy now!

I think as long as you’re not cutting reach completely, being super targeted is great and often delivers the best results, as you're identifying those key moments that really matter. Though, I did hear about a story once about a guy in the US who went so targeted with advertising that he purposely started freaking out his flatmate on Facebook with tailored ads that showed details that nobody else would know…. So maybe there is such a thing as too targeted!

Take a leaf out of Laura's book and start personalising your marketing game. Download our template now.

Converse, Convert & Crush Targets - Free Persona Guide

Tags: Inbound Marketing

Josh Baldwin

Josh Baldwin

Local & Mobile Specialist at Noisy Little Monkey, Josh blogs about useful tools and best practice.