(by Bob McCurdy) Several years ago we wrote an article titled, “Targeting Your Way to Lower Profits.” The premises of the article were:
- There is no such thing as a wasted ad impression.
- Only a small percentage of any product/service’s total customers fall within the typical target demo.
- Why would any advertiser purposely choose to be “invisible” to a considerable number of current customers?
- It is difficult to become an “aspirational” brand if only current customers are targeted.
Our conclusion was that just like salt, a little bit of targeting is good but too much is a recipe for lower profits. This week, the world’s largest and arguably its most sophisticated advertiser came to a similar conclusion.
In a Wall Street Journal article titled, “P&G to Scale Back Targeted Facebook Ads,” P&G’s Chief Marketing Officer, Marc Pritchard, was quoted as saying, “We targeted too much and we went too narrow.” Translation: Targeting too granularly leaves dollars on the table.
In this same article, James Douglas, Executive Director of social media agency Society, an Interpublic company, said case studies show that companies can receive a bigger sales increase if they reach a more significant portion of a platform’s overall audience (supports the importance of “speaking” to many rather than “preaching” to a few, aka reach-based planning). For instance, two years ago P&G tried targeting ads for its Febreze air freshener at pet owners and households with large families. The brand found that sales stagnated during the effort, but they rose when the campaign on Facebook and elsewhere was expanded last March to include anyone over 18.
How could a demo that broad produce results? Simple, it was inclusive and not exclusive. It included current Febreze buyers, past Febreze buyers, all competitive air-freshener buyers as well as those who hadn’t previously purchased air fresheners, but due to changing circumstances, eventually did.
Consumer circumstances and purchasing behaviors are fluid. They get married, have kids, buy a home, splurge, and because of this, the more people who are familiar with a product, the greater the chances it will be thought of in buying situations and be bought. And it’s almost impossible to be familiar with a product unless you’ve been exposed to its advertising.
The article continues with Peter Daboll, Chief Executive of Ace Metrix, saying, “If you could run an ad and reach a million people, or run a targeted ad to reach 5,000, you have to have pretty impressive returns on that 5,000 to make it worth it.”
This plays into a blog written several months back that focused on the “Law of Large Numbers,” which showed how a campaign with a 50 reach would need to be 40% more impactful to produce the same results as a campaign with a 70% reach.
Narrowly targeting audiences is limiting. A marketer might skim some of the low-hanging fruit via hyper-targeting, but it raises the question of who they’ve missed. Advertising exposes us to options; options that we might never know about due to marketing that’s too narrowly targeted. It alerts us to products and services we never knew we wanted, that we haven’t Googled or discussed on Facebook. We all buy products today we wouldn’t have, had we not been exposed to advertising that had not been targeted to us. Target too narrowly and your profits decline as P&G discovered, so when it comes to advertising, “mass” covers your _ _ _.
Radio offers an advertiser unprecedented mass reach in this era of hyper-fragmentation. Just keep in mind the number 97%. That’s the percentage of 18+ adults who tune to AM/FM radio each month, according to Nielsen’s Q1 2016 Total Audience Report; which means we reach virtually every buyer of every product available everywhere in the 3.8 million square miles of land known as the United States. That’s not only a great value proposition, but some top-notch targeting!
The Wall Street Journal article can be read here.
Bob McCurdy is Corporate Vice President of Sales for The Beasley Media Group and can be reached at [email protected]