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Idea of target audience ‘obsolete’

By GRANT LAPPING, Managing Director at DataCore Media



This might sound heretical, but it no longer matters who brands think their target market is. The reason for this is simple: with the technology and data digital marketers have access to today, we no longer need to limit our potential target audience to a set of personas or segments derived through customer research.

While this type of customer segmentation was – and remains – important for engagements across traditional above-the-line engagements in mass media, digital marketing gives us the tools we need to target customers on a far more granular and personalised level. Where customer research gives us an indication of who the audience is, data can tell us exactly what they want and how they may behave. 

The vast data captured through digital channels – crunched by powerful algorithms and machine learning tools – gives marketers the ability to understand and predict people’s behaviour more accurately and in more detail than any focus group or consumer research could ever allow.

These algorithms are constantly learning about people based on their actual behaviour and deciding what messages and ads they should see and how often. This approach is based on hard data and real-time engagement, rather than on a generalised set of assumptions derived from research that could have been conducted months or even years ago.

The machine can predict your online behaviour better than your friends or family

With deep learning and artificial intelligence (AI) at our fingertips, do we really need to define who our target customer is and what their likes and interests are? Based on the data, the machine will be able to give us a far more accurate answer about what the person is looking for at a given moment in time.

Take the example of a consumer researching options for a holiday, including flight and accommodation. After the Google search or visiting tagged travel sites, they will start to see banners and social media ads for deals to the destinations they were researching. A campaign manager might have a clear idea about who should be targeted: young, unmarried high-net income individuals, perhaps. But why exclude serious buyers who don’t fit this narrow segment?

Netflix is a master of talking to customers according to their behaviour and preferences. Unlike traditional pay TV providers, Netflix doesn’t segment its audience and offer channels tailored to different user profiles. Instead, it uses deep learning to decide which series and movies to feature for an individual user based on their viewing patterns.

Deep learning and AI do the same for online ads. Social media channels, search and programmatic display platforms, coupled with dynamic ad formats, all have the functionality to allow marketers to ‘atomise’ their audiences. They can target ads to an audience of one, customised to their exact need at that precise moment in time.

The Google Display Network, for example, combines three optimisation technologies to automatically:

  • Determine the most appropriate bid price to achieve the target cost per acquisition, based on the likelihood a person will convert;
  • Show ads to the person most likely to respond, based on their historical online activity; and
  • Present dynamic content tailored to an individual’s interests, with headlines and images customised to the user.

The Google Display Network offers the option to switch to manual bid adjustment if the automated platform can’t achieve the targeted cost per acquisition (CPA).

Now is the time to look at atoms, rather than segments

Despite the maturity and power of this technology, we still see many experienced marketers applying traditional media tactics in a digital world. But to restrict campaigns to predefined target audience segments is to lose the real value of digital media. The true power of digital marketing lies in using data and algorithms to prospect for customers based on their real behaviour, rather than based on a simplistic persona that may exclude some serious customers from seeing your ads.

Once a person who has viewed the ad engages with a prospect-focused campaign via a social media engagement, video view, website visit, or lead form, we can treat their information as first-party data. Under South African data regulations, we can continually market to these prospects as they move through the sales funnel from awareness to conversion to loyal, repeat customers.

As a side note, understanding the target customer remains important for your communications strategy, especially when it comes to brand-building campaigns. You need to define your audience to craft relevant messages, but once you have done so, you can use data and analytics to reach the right people with the right ad at the right time.

For example, you can craft a range of ad messages and use dynamic ads in performance-focused campaigns that aim for conversions. Brand-building campaigns will more closely resemble traditional mass media campaigns and marketers should still focus in reaching the ideal customer in the right place with a message that will resonate for them.

Let’s wrap up with a few tips about how you can get started on using behavioural data to engage better with your prospects and customers:

  • Clearly define the steps to a final conversion and ensure appropriate tags are in place to track each step and to inform the algorithm for automatic optimisation at each step.
  • Don’t predefine your audience – rather set your target goal and trust the machine to use the tag data to speak to the right people at the right time and in the right context.
  • Create as many custom audiences as possible using segmented databases, specific page visitors, social media engagements, video views, etc.
  • If there is not enough data or if traffic volume is not sufficient to inform the algorithm to optimise for your end goal (whether that is a lead or a sale), then set the campaign to optimise for earlier steps in the funnel such as “add to basket” or even a “landing page view”.
  • Boosting posts from a Facebook page does not use the platform’s full capability. Create an ad account linked to business manager, which allows for effective conversion optimised campaigns across Facebook, Instagram and their audience network on third-party sites.


ASUS puts more screen into gaming

While others battle over the thinnest bezel for maximizing screen space, ASUS released a dual screen laptop that uses the space where one’s palms would usually rest, writes BRYAN TURNER



When one imagines dual screen, it’s usually two screens side-by-side on a desk, providing a horizontally long desktop experience. There have been clunky dual screen laptops in the past, some that folded out horizontally, but these never really caught the attention of the consumer.  

Enter Asus with the ROG Zephyrus Duo 15. Like the Asus ZenBook Pro Duo, the ROG Zephyrus Duo features two screens – the main screen on the top panel (as we’re all used to) and another screen just below that, where the top of the keyboard would usually be. The main difference is the secondary screen pops out at a 13-degree angle to bridge the gap between the two screens, and to give better viewing angles.  

That ZenBook Pro Duo is also a pretty good machine for gaming, because it features Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 graphics, but it doesn’t have the latest graphics. With the new machine, Asus is one of the first manufacturers to release a laptop featuring Nvidia’s latest RTX 2080 Super Max Q GPU for mobile devices. This is a momentous feat, considering that not only are the external features  cutting edge, but also the internals. 

The main panel is configured to be either 4K 60Hz or 1080p 300Hz. The former is most likely going to be picked up by video editors and photoshop gurus, because it covers 100% of the Adobe RBG colour space, and the latter will appeal to gamers who want to see their high frame rates in action. Both panels are Pantone Colour Calibrated for high colour accuracy. 

The secondary panel features a 32:9 resolution, which is equal to putting two standard 16:9 widescreen panels together. The touchscreen panel outputs a 3840 x 1100 resolution at 60Hz.  

The combination of these panels will be ideal for portable gamers. The main game can be on the main panel, while Discord and game streaming software can be on the secondary panel, all at a glance. Not to mention the game developers that have support for two screens, where the second screen highlights stats and other components that had to be crammed into the main screen’s space.   

On the inside, the laptop features liquid metal cooling, which lowers the temperatures by 8°C and allows the computer to function with less fan noise. Asus has also slipped some very interesting cooling tech behind the secondary panel, when it pops open, to maximise airflow into the computer from both the bottom and the top of the device. 

The laptop features the biggest battery Asus has yet put in a computer, at 90Wh. This is incredibly close to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA’s) limit of 100Wh batteries being allowed on flights to the US. Fortunately, this computer can be taken around the world if necessary. 

These computers will come in two variants of 10th Generation Intel processors, namely the i9-10980HK or i7-10875H. They support up to 2 M.2 NVMe PCIE 3 slots for SSDs. 

The new ROG gaming range from Asus will be available later this year. The price of the computer has not yet been confirmed

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Vodacom, Discovery launch free virtual COVID-19 tests

Vodacom and Discovery have teamed up to launch free virtual COVID-19 testing for all South Africans – not only for their customers.



Vodacom and Discovery have partnered to deliver a powerful online healthcare platform for the benefit of all South Africans during the COVID-19 pandemic. This platform provides easy access to a COVID-19 risk tool for all South Africans, to help understand your personal risk for COVID-19. Where needed, it assists immediately to schedule virtual healthcare professional consultations and get advice.

Globally, telemedicine has proved to be vital in the management of this disease, with many governments and healthcare systems advocating for digital healthcare tools and virtual consults to be the first step and primary means of healthcare support during the COVID-19 outbreak. The risk assessment and virtual healthcare tools can help to identify people who need health professional engagement and a potential referral for testing or to a hospital.

The online healthcare platform therefore makes it possible for South Africans to access a healthcare professional without them having to travel to a healthcare facility.

This reduces overcrowding at clinics and doctors’ rooms where there is greater risk of the virus spreading. It also protects healthcare professionals from potential repeated exposure to COVID-19.

It is free to use and available on any web browser or mobile phone to facilitate a full consultation with a doctor, either through video calls, voice calls, or by text. The service can be accessed by visiting either the Discovery or Vodacom websites. Vodacom customers can get additional information and do a self-assessment via USSD by dialling *111#.

Through a partnership with Vodacom, Discovery’s existing DrConnect platform, which was previously available only to Discovery clients, is now accessible to all South Africans. Vodacom and Discovery have also jointly created a fund to pay doctors for approximately 100,000 consultations, making them free to any South African.

There are seven easy steps to use an online doctor consultation:

  1. Start the process by visiting Discovery’s COVID-19 information hub or Vodacom’s website. Members of Discovery Health Medical Scheme can access the service through the Discovery app. Vodacom customers can get additional information and do a self-assessment via USSD by dialling *111#.
  2. Utilise the COVID-19 self-screening risk assessment tool, by answering a few easy questions.
  3. If you are confirmed as high risk of having COVID-19, a short registration and consent process on the DrConnect app will follow.
  4. Book a virtual consultation with a doctor who is available to assess the need for COVID-19 testing.
  5. If the doctor recommends testing, a photo of the completed pathology form will be sent to you by SMS, WhatsApp or email. The same process will apply to scripts for medicine.
  6. Testing and collecting of medicine will be facilitated by the relevant essential healthcare service providers that you must visit.
  7. Doctors will receive test results electronically and can then advise if you should schedule follow-up appointments to discuss results and next steps.

The Vodacom COVID-19 information hub contains other up-to-date information for consumers about COVID-19.

With virtual consultations, the location of the doctor or the location of the patient will not restrict access to fast and effective healthcare. All doctors can register to help.

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