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Why targeted digital marketing is the wave of the future

Thought Leadership presented by Comcast Spotlight.

If you’re paying attention to the media landscape, you’ve probably already noticed that major TV audiences are relegated to sporting events and a handful of high-profile programs. It used to be much more simple – watching TV meant everyone gathered around their TV set, in their home. These days, “watching TV” could mean using your computer, tablet or phone – while sitting in a café, pedaling at the gym, or riding the train.

Now more than ever, it’s a challenge to find audiences, and marketers are required to get more creative – and especially more targeted – to make sure they are reaching the right people.

The fragmented nature of the media landscape certainly makes marketing more difficult. In the 1950s, almost 70% of people watching TV were watching I Love Lucy – making it easy to find a captive audience to market your product or service. These days, 90% of prime programming reaches only 3% of the total population. Viewership ratings are increasingly hard to find, due in large part to the rapid growth of available content and the ever-increasing number of channels.

The same is true in radio: even the top-rated radio stations in a major market will only reach 1% of the population, at best. And even when people are in front of the TV, or have their radio on, they’re using their computer or tablet at the same time to check email, pay bills… so what is a marketing professional to do?


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Don’t despair yet! Luckily, growth mediums like cable TV and digital are built on aggregating audiences and excel at targeting to deliver specific audiences. Most businesses could never afford to reach everyone anyway, and these days your marketing dollars need to be held accountable. Now, instead of using a traditional approach that focuses on purchasing large percentages of broad demographics (e.g. adults aged 25-54), we are seeing marketers get more specific by identifying their specific target audience, and purchasing impressions against that target. Impressions refer to the number of people who may have seen your ad on television or online, or heard it on the radio.

To take this approach, you must know your customer first, and use that data to identify the most effective marketing media. Using a research resource such as Scarborough, you can drill down deeper and find people who have a higher index to buy a product you are marketing. This way, you can take a more targeted and less costly approach by only going after people who are in the market for your product, which will significantly reduce wasteful spending. As in the example below, Scarborough data can help identify content providers that can reach individuals with a higher propensity to buy your product or service.


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Although the media landscape can seem overwhelming, consumers are actually spending more time than ever with media – which is a great opportunity for marketers to get savvier with their advertising. The key to success is understanding your customer – and you can start right away by focusing your efforts on capturing and analyzing the customer data you have access to. Once you have a handle on your customer profile(s), consider using third-party research to model consumer behavior and discover prospects. And lastly, be sure to select media vendors that allow for targeting and are willing to test tactics with you.

Up next: Forget about “reach” and “frequency” – how is your marketing actually driving sales?

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