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2014-10-28 11:33

Compiling a consumer profile

Although the internet as a channel for marketing communication offers incomparably greater reach possibilities than other media, publishers still do not fully use the chances stemming from this fact. Even if many of them do realise what advertising potential the web holds.

The power of particular medium may be measured in many ways – for instance with its popularity (the audience indicator, the number of page views or sales figures for print media or subscriptions, etc.). Yet the final arguments are always the costs, effectiveness and consumer reach. And somewhat incidentally, also the possibility to take action in real time or interact with the audience. Not surprisingly, online ad spends are growing at an accelerating rate, usually at the expense of traditional media. Most publishers, previously well-established in the ‘old’ offline media, have become adept in the virtual realm and got involved in the web. For example, by selling content as VOD, investing in e-publications, enriching content with multimedia available online or delivering extra content to subscribers.

Despite a number of analytical tools available on the internet allowing for accurate planning of campaigns or manage the advertising space, publishers still do not fully use the potential of that medium. Predominantly this is true in the context of user online behaviour. Hence defining the unique features of the internet as a communication channel seems worthwhile. So does identification of the power of analytical tools provided for the publishers.

Consumer profile and effectiveness of communication

Thanks to advertisement display systems that are exclusively used in the online world – such as AdWords (for the search engine Google) – it has become obvious that enlarging the target group and massive character of communication may not be the best solution in all circumstances. Not long ago, most campaigns were run in this way. Campaign planning – as regards TV, radio, outdoor or press – have always been largely restricted; perhaps equally important is the fact that effectiveness of such undertakings is very hard to verify. Let’s imagine a campaign for a new washing powder planned in the traditional media. Generally speaking, you could limit it to certain type of print media (women’s magazines, for instance) and television (e.g. commercials broadcast before a popular soap or on a thematic channel). An even harder task is to accurately plan communication in OOH. Where to place the hoardings (apart from the obvious locations, such as supermarket vicinity), to have some effect?

Massive communication, and the related massive costs, are inevitable. And the effects will not be seen before months pass, when the ad spends are compared with the sales figures. One cannot expect the tools for assessing such activities to be any more precise than estimate indicators. The internet in this respect sparked a revolution, bringing about a totally different approach to communication with a customer. For in the online realm, you can bet on quality rather than quantity: to effectively reach a narrowly defined target group. In the washing powder case – to direct messages to women of a certain age, location, lifestyle; in short: to those who seek for this type of product at the moment. Not many things in this world irritate an average customer more than adverts. Especially when it’s intrusive, overly replayed and inadequate to the needs. In other words – such mostly experienced on TV and radio.

Advantage of the online

Internet publishers’ advantage over the traditional media is the fact that they can gather enormous amounts of data about a member of audience based on day-to-day contact. For this purpose they employ analytical tools monitoring website traffic. The knowledge gained in this way is much broader than the soc-demo profiles of users. The most advanced of IT solutions are universal in their scope (the measurement covers traffic generated on website and in applications, e.g. mobile), flexible, and offer the possibility to segment and analyse internet users behaviour in consideration of a number of factors[1].

Behavioural targeting

A part of marketing communication building is compiling a consumer profile (the most appropriate target group who will be interested in a product or service in question). The more accurate the profile, the easier it is to plan communication. Provided you have the right channels and tools to do that. Based on website traffic analysis, internet user groups can be precisely defined (by a range of characteristics, such as the age, sex, place of residence, financial and marital status, interests, most frequent queries, content sought, leisure time patterns and so on). When combined with thematic sites, sub-pages of portals, or other products (e.g. e-mail box, e-commerce platform), this information is a way to precisely convey a message to the potential customer (the group most probably interested in the advertised product or service).

However, even such seemingly advanced possibilities are not all the contemporary internet has to offer. The latest available tools, apart from user groups segmentation, can also suit communication to an online individual. In practice, this means profiled message (according such features as lifestyle and leisure time habits, interests, purchase potential, etc.) conveyed to a concrete, singled out internet user. Behavioural targeting then means a totally different approach to advertising, compared to the traditional media. It increases the effectiveness of reach and keeps campaign costs at a minimum. With the advanced analytical tools at hand, you can control on-going marketing activities, correct them as appropriate, and build consumer relations by interaction. In practice, one could imagine that a TV commercial concerning a mortgage loan will be watched by potential clients of the bank and persons who are not interested in the matter (e.g. senior citizens or youth). But a message about the same offer communicated online will reach the group defined by the advertiser ( e.g. young large city population with income above the average).

Even better reach. Joint powers

An internet publisher of today is a marketing communication expert. Equipped with advanced analytics and popular websites in his/her portfolio, they can execute almost any order of an advertiser. Even more so if the publisher is large and can reach – e.g. via thematic portals of any sort – a vast portion of the internet population.

Joint powers – of advertisers and publishers (the party displaying the ads) – add extra momentum towards the aim of increased effectiveness of online ad spends. When combined with a publisher’s analytics, data on internet users who have visited a website with a product or service advertised can be used to develop even deeper communication. Such possibilities are offered by analytics that can sieve out those internet users on a publisher’s website who also visited the advertiser’s page.

Behavioural targeting, two paths of reach

With such knowledge and tools in store, you can choose between these two procedure paths in order to ensure most best performance.

Path one:

  • The group of internet users who visited both the publisher’s and the advertiser’s websites is isolated. The behavioural profile is created.
  • The advertiser adapts his/her campaign to suit the specific features of that group (the customer interests, affluence, preferred times of web use, etc.).

Path two:

  • The advertiser identifies who on his/her website is the best (most promising) target group (based on historical analysis of their behaviour).
  • The publisher checks the behaviour patterns of this group and confronts them with similar data from his/her website. The behavioural pattern is then created.
  • In a similar manner, the publisher seeks out persons with similar features (the same profile) and directs the advertiser’s campaign to these people (it is only displayed to the most valuable users).

Speaking of tools for behavioural analysis. You can divide internet users into the ones more eager to visit the advertiser’s website and interact (user conversion) and those who leave a website without any interaction (understood as entering sub-pages, registration, leaving an e-mail address or enquiry, enrolling on a newsletter subscribers list, filling out a survey, etc.). For each of these two groups a publisher can ascribe a range of different features typical for the behavioural analysis. Such precisely targeted message will further boost the effectiveness of communication. As it is not only a separated consumer group that is reached any more, but they are actually the ones who have expressed their interest in the advertiser’s offer at some level.

In this model, it is the publisher who, to some degree, takes up the role of a campaign planner, or even of the one who precisely defines the client’s (advertiser’s) target group.

The solutions described above require close collaboration and certain amount of trust between the parties. Considerable effort from the publisher is also a must, so that a campaign returns the best possible results. In practice, this comes down to an array of research activities, such as:

  • interests profile analysis concerning internet users (publisher’s websites’ users) who were ascribed by the advertiser to different target and effectiveness groups,
  • message reaction analysis concerning a selected target group and adapting ad display systems to a user’s habits,
  • typical decision making process analysis concerning an internet user while visiting the advertiser’s website and adapting ads display system to provide support towards more efficient marketing activities.

When discussing the importance of the internet as a marketing communication channel, we are all well-accustomed to draw mot attention to the growing range of the medium. Web access is more and more common and affordable, the popularity of mobile devices is an a rise too. Some emphasis should be placed, however, on the effectiveness of online campaigns whenever shifts in the advertising pie distribution are brought up (with benefit to the online publishers). No other channel can offer such in-depth analysis of content consumers, and consequently, such accurate target group profiling, advertising activity assessment and consumer relation building.


[1] It also supports measurement of campaigns based on other solutions, e.g. the afore-mentioned AdWords used in Google. 

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