The latest figures from IAB Europe show that online advertising is winning over the ad industry, with reported growth of 11.9 per cent representing a market value of €27.3bn in 2013. But while it’s great that online is proving so popular, an age-old issue persists in the industry: how do we make sure that the right people are seeing our content, and how do we even know who the “right” people are?
Although online advertising enables advertisers to improve their targeting strategies, many aren’t taking full advantage of the opportunity, and continue to opt for quantity of hits over quality.
Digital advertising has given us the tools to go beyond guesswork about age and gender to determine target audiences. In the past, audience measurement techniques have relied on generalised stereotypes about what advertisers believe people in certain demographics are interested in, and when they’ll be in front of their TV. But this in no way enables advertisers to target consumers that intend to purchase their products or services; not all 20-something men will be looking to buy the latest games console and a 50-inch plasma.
Buying behaviour and purchasing habits rely on complex variables, and online data enables us to measure these variables much more accurately. When consumers shop online, search engines such as Google, Yahoo! and Bing are often the first port of call. Google now racks up over 11.9 billion searches per month, and every search generates data, which is an incredibly valuable asset for advertisers. Analysing this data enables advertisers to identify consumers who actually intend to purchase, meaning ads can be targeted based on this intent to buy, rather than arbitrary stats such as age or gender.
Targeting ads based on purchasing intent results in much higher click-through and conversion rates than ads that continue to rely on outdated methods of targeting. Social media platforms, such as Facebook, have already taken the first steps to listen to what people are saying, or posting, using algorithms to measure and analyse our interactions with the site and tailor ads to our activity. But highly targeted digital display ads have the potential to take such a targeted approach to a whole new level, across every online platform, improving results and increasing ROI.
With more and more people turning to the internet for the majority of their purchases, search is the most efficient and accurate way of inferring intent. By listening and responding to what people are looking for, advertisers can ensure they’re speaking loud and clear to a receptive audience. And when you’re speaking to an interested, finely targeted audience, you’ll get far better ROI on your ad spend.
Vincent Potier is COO of Captify.