Recent global events have proved how hard it is to predict outcomes. Consider President Trump and closer to home, Brexit. Heck, consider English football club underdog, Leicester City winning the Premier League last year. All events were against the odds, in all cases any expert relying on data to predict the outcome would have anticipated incorrectly. Why? Because people aren’t always willing to tell you everything; the decisions people make and the actions people take differ on their situation and mindset from day to day.
Which leaves marketers in a bit of a conundrum. How do you create valuable experiences that account for and align well with unpredictable consumer behaviour? How do you measure and understand consumer habits? What is the value of demographic targeting in a world where intent is influenced on context?
We sought to answer some of these questions in our new report, conducted in partnership with ExchangeWire, “Digital Re-imagined: Context and Predictability”, and asked 207 digital marketing professionals to consider these points.
What we uncovered was the use of location and contextual data was on the rise. Whilst ad requests containing location data rose by 170% last year, our survey revealed that 51% consider demographic segments to be of “limited use” or “no use”, with 38% of those who used contextual targeting doing so in order to break away from demographic stereotypes.
We also found that 43% of respondents believe contextual and location targeting will boost relevance of their ads, and 41% believe it’s main use is to drive footfall to physical locations. This is because location is one of the highest indicators of behavioural intent. My current situation, where I have been previously and what is in close proximity to me is more likely to determine what I find interesting and what I go onto buy than anything else. This is why 34% of respondents said real-time campaign activation is one of the main performance benefits they’ve seen from investing in contextual targeting, second only to campaign efficiency (47%).
So what does this mean?
Are we experiencing the demise of demographics? Quite frankly, no, that’s a massive over-exaggeration. But as consumer behaviour gets harder to predict, new technology is making it easier than ever before for brands to obtain a wider understanding of their audience. People have never fallen into straightforward demographics, and now we can build campaigns based on real behaviours and audience context. Location highlights intent as a visit to a store or specific place is often a larger commitment to purchasing compared to an online search or social share, and opens prime opportunities for brands to target audiences in the right moment based on where they are and the situation they are in.
With consumer behaviour more erratic than ever, the idea of spending months crafting overarching targeting for media campaigns is starting to seem outdated. Therefore, more efficient campaign planning and real-time activation are vital if marketers are to be as effective as possible in times of flux. Click here to download our report, “Digital Re-imagined: Context and Predictability”.