People-based marketing’s your only option in this programmatic age. Here’s why

By Pete LaFond, vice president of marketing, TruSignal

As programmatic advertising booms, marketers who better understand the value of each impression and individual will gain significant advantage over their competitors. A critical element in their success will be people-based advertising.

Why is people-based advertising so important? Because it lets you target individual profiles based on unique data attributes that connect to actual people. The results can be incredibly powerful for a brand, leading to better accuracy and efficiency.

With that said, marketers need to keep in mind three core points if they’re going to succeed at people-based advertising.

First, you need to target people. Okay, that sounds obvious, but I’ve heard buyers claim to be targeting people when in reality they’re targeting a cookie, with no idea if there’s a person behind it or a bot. People-based audiences are derived using verified consumer profiles from first party or third party data sets. They’re not derived from cookies or behavioral signals or from guesswork about whether the presence you’re targeting is actually a human being. Cookies and other IDs are important for reaching the audience online, but you shouldn’t confuse them with the profiles and data you need to identify the people you want to target.

Second, profile data fuels people-based advertising. The more profile data you have, the greater the potential for insights about consumer profiles. I suspect some marketers will say, “I’m already using my first-party CRM data. What do I need more data for?” Having worked at a large retailer, I know that CRM data can provide certain insights into customer transactions at a particular company. But CRM data doesn’t include those large amounts of data that are available only via third parties. Furthermore, your CRM files lack data about people who aren’t already your customers. The more comprehensive the data is, the more comprehensive your understanding of the people you want to reach can be.

Third, working with massive amounts of data alone doesn’t mean you’ve got insights into, or knowledge about, the person you’re targeting. Obtaining those things requires organizing and analyzing all your data at a profile level. Some will argue that segment targeting is people-based advertising. My response is that targeting an audience based on gender, age and income information isn’t people-based at all, because it assumes that everyone within that segment is of equal value. Not every mom between the ages of 30 and 45 with an estimated income of over $100,000 is a potential good customer for high-end luxury brands. People-based advertising means knowing who’s a good customer and who isn’t.

Don’t think these three points are relevant to your marketing efforts? Here are four quick reasons why they are:

1) Programmatic targeting is only going to increase. Unless you’re keeping pace, your competitors will leave you behind.
2) Those marketers who have the best knowledge of the value of each person and impression will win.
3) Targeting people decreases your exposure to bots and ad fraud.
4) Besides the greater accuracy and efficiency that people-based advertising brings, buyers will understand advertising’s impact on their offline sales. That, in turn, will facilitate true closed-loop measurement.

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