How to Extend Your Reach and Avoid Oversaturated Audiences


ADOTAS (3rd of 5 parts) — Consider this hypothetical scenario: A brand wants to increase product sales, so its agency sets up a conversion-focused campaign through programmatic media buying. Performance slows within a number of days, with conversions plateauing and then decreasing. Because the ad targeted consumers at a high frequency to fill the campaign, the audience quickly grew tired of the ad. They “got it” already.

The more targeted your audience, the better your performance.  However, very narrowly focused targeting can also mean small audiences. Every audience has a point of saturation, and the smaller your target audience, the quicker that point of saturation is reached.  One of the benefits of programmatic audience targeting is the ability to be hyper-focused, but that means marketers must be proactive about audience fatigue.

There are ways to avoid audience fatigue. A brand can adjust its creative, change its messaging and widen its audience. Whereas brands and/or agencies typically take charge of altering creative and marketing messaging, a programmatic partner can help you widen an audience. Full-service programmatic partners should have the technology to constantly search for new audiences, and the team to analyze performance and pace impressions appropriately.

Let’s look at an example of a case where a programmatic partner takes a small audience and expands it.  At the start of the summer season, a home improvement brand in five states started to stock a new grill. To market this new inventory to consumers, the brand set up a programmatic campaign that targeted segments with married men in their forties and fifties who fell within a certain income bracket. For the first month, the campaign performed well, but it then began to decline in the beginning of the second month.

The reason that the point of saturation was arrived at too soon may be that the audience was too narrowly targeted. Because of this, the same men kept seeing the ads, and their engagement with the ad quickly fatigued. If the brand were to open up its audience to include other consumer segments, it might have learned that single men in their thirties who owned a home also engaged with impressions.  A programmatic partner with a machine-learning system would have the ability to find the many attributes of the targeted audience, to index each segment according to how it performs, and to scale the audience to find lookalikes for each distinct intender audience.

The best programmatic partners do the following on behalf of a brand:

  • Use a wide breadth of data providers and segments.
  • Catch lagging performance immediately and take action.
  • Automatically adjust audience to constantly optimize performance.
  • Automatically discover and validate incremental audiences.

Turning to another case, let’s focus on a residential play structure manufacturer that sought to increase “learn more” click-throughs on its ad for a backyard play place.  The brand knew that people aged 35-44 who live in the suburbs tend to perform well. In order to discover new audiences though, the brand chose a programmatic partner with the technology to test other age groups in the suburbs while also analyzing the group that did engage with the ad impression. By doing so, it determined that the persona of the best-performing consumer skews towards moms who have more than one child, are interested in gardening, wellness, and education, and own a minivan or SUV. This more robust definition of its audience helped the brand to keep the campaign in front of fresh eyes as well as broaden its reach.

In conclusion, to achieve sustained performance with a programmatic campaign, brands should use initial targeting as a starting point for machine learning systems, not as a fixed constraint. When learning engines discover new audiences, this allows a programmatic provider to optimize campaigns and to provide a brand with unique insight into who these new audiences are, how they engage, and their specific motivators.


Part 1: Curing 5 Pain Points for Better Programmatic Results: The General Pain Point
Part 2: How to Correct Inconsistent Results from Your Programmatic Media Buying
Part 4: How to Reach Your Programmatic Media-Buying Goals Across All Channels


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