By: Kole McRae On: March 12, 2018 In: Digital Marketing Comments: 0

Audience management is an often overlooked part of digital marketing. Courses in digital marketing never discuss it; boot camps certainly don’t touch it; and very few keynotes I’ve attended have praised its importance. Yet, there is much evidence of what it can do.

Take for example, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. They saw 22% more conversions using similar audiences. Similarly, Intel’s innovative use of remarketing lists for search ads resulted in an 11% decrease in cost-per-acquisition and a 30% increase in conversion rate. And UK fashion retailer, MandM Direct boosts engagement with click-through rate going up from 4.5 to 12%.

Looking at our own stats at Kanetix Ltd, we have realized conversion rates for some audiences that are three times higher than our normal keyword and non-audience based targeting methods.

Hold up! What’s an audience?

An audience is a segment of people created using a rule. A simple example is a grouping of people who viewed certain series of blog posts on your website. Let’s say it’s your series on golf clubs. You can create an “audience” of these people and call them “golf lovers”. You could then advertise golf stuff to them, getting a better result than just showing them a general ad.

 Okay, I get it but just tell me what to do!

Got it, I’m a man of action so let’s start with the low hanging fruit and go from there.

 First, negative audiences

Step one is simple. Add a negative audience in your marketing channels for customers who have already purchased. If you have a LTV customer, use an appropriate window, for example, 30 days. This is important so you don’t spend money advertising to those who have already purchased from you. While this may not be too much of an issue for Amazon, for most companies, depending on your campaign objectives, you don’t need to advertise to customers again immediately after they buy. It just annoys them and costs you money.

Have you ever purchased a product online only to have ads appear all over the web for the product you just bought? Audience management can put a stop to that.

For search advertising, you can utilize bid modifiers and reduce the bid based on demographics (which I consider part of audiences) that you want to exclude. For example, if you are a B2B company and want to go after employers, an age bid modifier can have a very positive affect.

 Next, let’s talk positives

Word of mouth is insanely important. In my own campaigns, I create an audience of people who came from channels that would be considered unpaid and referrals. Word of mouth is hugely influential in building trust and ultimately driving conversion in potential customers. An example of referrals are people who are posting on reddit or forums about you, or perhaps customers who have given you a positive review. Add that person to an audience and bid more for them since they are more likely to convert.


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At Kanetix Ltd., we also use machine learning to add a “chance to convert” percentage to a person and increase the bid on ads shown to those people.

Then, use your own data

A recent study found that 71% of people prefer personalized ads. One of the easiest ways to customize ads is to use your own data. At Kanetix Ltd., we leverage car make and model data that consumers enter into the auto insurance quoter to display ads to them that are more personal.

Once you have well defined audiences you can start showing different ads to different audiences based on what they are looking for. This is a form of personalization.

Here’s an example from Kanetix Ltd., where we apply our own data on car make and model to produce personalized ads.

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Most Data Management Platforms (DMP) and advertising solutions create “similar to” audiences that you can also use to personalize ads.

 Seriously? You’re going to throw around words like DMP and not tell us what they are?

I got you. A DMP or data management platform helps to manage a large number of audiences and action them across complex advertising channels. You can use a DMP to create a specific audience (such as the golf lover’s example above) and then push that one audience to all your advertising channels such as email or paid search. You can then show personalized ads to these people in all the platforms so you have a personalized campaign for that audience.

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Not everyone needs a DMP. They can be expensive and require resources to maintain. Here’s a few alternatives that might help:

Use Google Analytics for Adwords and Doubleclick audiences. You can build them in the admin bar using your own data that is pushed to analytics. If you have a lead generation form that asks questions you can push that data into analytics using custom variables. Then set up audiences based on that data in Doubleclick or Adwords.

One example from our own industry at Kanetix Ltd., is an auto insurance quoter. People enter the number of cars they own, their gender, the distance they travel on a regular basis, etc. You can push their answers (minus anything personally identifiable) into Google analytics and then build audiences based on it. Meaning you can show unique ads targeted to people who own multiple cars over those who only own one car.

Bing is a bit trickier but with their UAT system you can still use UTM parameters to build audiences. If you push data into the url, you can use that data to help build an audience. These tricks can help you get better at personalizing your ads almost immediately.

Now armed with an understanding negative audience segments, the importance of referral tracking, and personalization you’re ready to actively employ audience management as part of your digital marketing arsenal.

The only issue left is that you’ll feel like you’ve been losing money by not doing this ages ago. I know that’s how I felt.


About the author:


Kole is the Manager, Digital Strategy at Kanetix Ltd. He’s a digital native with over 7 years professional experience in digital marketing and has worked with thousands of Canadian companies to help them get better returns on their digital marketing. Former clients & employers include major players in: Telecommunications (eg. Bell + Rogers), security tech, trend breaking startups (Aquamobile, as seen in Dragon’s Den!), publications, online stores, major affiliates and more.

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