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Micro-targeting grows up

Digital channels are constantly evolving, making it harder for marketers to get their message across. Understanding that shouting in a noisy environment is not enough, marketers have turned to targeting technologies to reach their customers.

Digital channels are constantly evolving, and in ways that seem to make it even harder for marketers to make themselves heard through the noise and clutter. Understanding that shouting in such a noisy environment is not enough to make themselves heard, marketers have turned to targeting technologies and methodologies to reach their customers with more relevant messages.

Behavioural and contextual targeting, for example, play a valuable role in getting the right messages to the right people and at the right time. Now, targeting is continuing to become more sophisticated and personalised as marketers look for ways to get consumers’ attention and make them feel valued.

As a result, we’re seeing more and more marketers look towards micro-targeting as a means for segmenting their customer bases and communicating with smaller groups of consumers and even individuals. It allows us to communicate with consumers with very granular messaging that anticipates their needs and behaviours.

Micro-targeting combines individual-level information a brand knows – perhaps from registered customers or CRM data – and then combines it with demographic, geographic and marketing data to build statistical models.

These models can then be used to predict the attitudes and behaviours of consumers for which the company does not have individual data.

There are a range of powerful micro-targeting techniques that can help marketers improve ROI by personalising their communications. For example, they can use segmentation and generic algorithms on platforms such as programmatic buying to establish consumer behaviour and propensity to purchase or engage with a brand.

Which methodology to choose depends on the brand’s business objectives as well as the nature of its business. The right approach might combine several different techniques and data sources. Financial services companies, for example, can combine personal data they have about accountholders and their financial status with geographic data to personalise their offers for similar individuals.

Before deploying a micro-targeting model widely across campaigns, it should be tested carefully. Marketers should test the model for its accuracy, measured by whether or not a person successfully engages with the brand or not. It is also important to remember that micro-targeting – like any kind of targeting – is a tool for prioritising audience behaviours rather than a strict set of parameters for profiling the audience.

Since the US elections of 2012 where both major parties used micro-targeting with great success, the technology has been heavily hyped. As with any new technology, marketers should be realistic about its potential and to align it with their business needs.

They should look beyond the hype and conduct thorough testing and optimisation to ensure they’re getting what they expect from it. In an increasingly complex, cluttered and fragmented digital environment, granular micro-targeting will play an important role in reaching consumers and speaking to them in a way that prompts brand engagement.

* Follow Gadget on Twitter on @GadgetZA

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