Media plays a vital role in the marketing communications process. They exist to carry and deliver entertainment and information to vast audiences and are the means by which advertisers communicate with their target audiences. Media proliferation, which is driven largely by technology, has fragmented the market to the point where literally hundreds and in some cases thousands of media vehicles within each media class vie for the attention of consumers. This is not to mention the continual emergence of new media based on technology advances such as streamed broadcasting (radio and television), podcasts ( MP3 downloads), user-generated media (Wikipedia, YouTube, FaceBook, web blogs), short message service (SMS), video games etc.
Challenges of media fragmentation
While fragmentation may be good for consumers in terms of increasing choice, for media owners and advertisers, the increased supply brings many challenges. For media owners such challenges mean limited resources in terms of both diminishing audiences and advertiser revenue. Audiences are in limited supply for media providers for two reasons:
- Regardless of the rate of growth in media options for advertisers, the total numbers of potential consumers of media remains stable.
- The increase in available broadcast hours as a result of increased channels is disproportionate to the increase in available viewing hours.
For companies seeking to advertise their products and services, it means increasing challenges of finding where, when, how to find interested prospects and expose their products and services to them in the hope of making a sale. This inadvertently means pouring money into black holes in an effort to capture those elusive customers. Unless brands can clearly segment their customers, find where they are, and create targeted marketing communication , they will continue to spent money that they can not justify in terms of revenue and profits.
What is audience targeting?
Audience targeting is the process of matching the profile of the product/brand user to that of the media vehicle and the marketing communication message. A foundational concept of audience targeting suggests that an advertiser places their advertising where it is most likely to be seen by members of the target market for the purpose of having the greatest impact whilst eliminating costly wastage to non-users of that products. It means creating marketing activities that will capture the interest of your target audiences and keep your brand top of mind.
Why untargeted marketing communication wastes money
- You place adverts in all media in the hope that someone will read and be interested in your product.
- You don’t know how many people have read and internalize your adverts.
- It is difficult to calculate the return on your advertising investment.
- Customers are fickle and no longer want to be bombarded with adverts that they see as irrelevant.
- Fragmentation of media channels means people are no longer reading, watching or listening to one communication channel but those that interest them.
- It is increasingly difficult to make communication messages that speak to everyone all at once.
- Different age groups, income groups, genders, cultural groups, have different ways of perceiving and reacting to the same things.
- Customers have become more sophisticated in their tastes.
- Customers have less and less time for brand advertising.
Thou shalt differentiate
Audiences can be segmented according to many factors. Long gone is the time when families sat in front of the TV and watched one channel. There are over 500 channels on Sky TV, over 30 channels on BBC, over 300 radio stations in the UK, over 300 radio channels, and 100 channels on DSTV in South Africa. In order to be effective in marketing communication, brands and companies should stop blindly shooting from the hip and target their communication to speak to their target audiences using appropriate communication channels and in places where their audiences are to be found. Differentiation enables you to get to know your target audience intimately and therefore to target your communication and your products appropriately. Outward bound adverts are no longer enough. People no longer want to be spoken to, they want to participate in the conversation.
Benefits of Audience targeting for your company
- Your target audiences are more frequently exposed to your products and services.
- Your staff have the opportunity to learn more about your customers through research required for audience targeting.
- Customers become loyal to companies that speak to them in a language that they understand.
- Audience targeting improves the likelihood of increased purchases and attracting more customers.
- Your product’s time to market is decreased because of the increase in stock turnover.
- Your company improves its chances of increasing its market share.
Audience targeting should be a dominant strategy for brands. The increasing competition for the advertising dollar should encourage companies to use differentiation strategies in their marketing communication to promote themselves as being ‘niche’ and ‘highly targeted.
Some tips on Target advertising
- Know your products, its uses, when it is used, who uses it, how it is distributed etc.
- Know your target customers, who is using your products, where they use it, how they feel when they use it, how it impacts their lives, their community etc
- Find out where your customers consume your products/services.
- Find out where your customers are spending their time, what they see, read, listen to and what interest them etc.
- Decide how you can create marketing communication that “speaks” the same language as your audiences, on the channels that they are seeing, listening to or in media that they are reading, places where they are visiting, being entertained etc
- Target your customers according to their interests, attributes, life stage, lifestyle, demographics, location, purchase intent, on line behaviour and previous purchases.
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