Gartner Reveals Three Key Strategies for Marketers to Uncover Target Audiences

Experts Discuss the Growing Challenges of Audience Segmentation and Advertising Strategy at Gartner Marketing Symposium/Xpo, Taking Place April 29-May 1, in San Diego

While marketers today are faced with ever-growing challenges when it comes to uncovering and targeting key audiences, Gartner, Inc. has identified three strategies for marketers to better identify and engage their target audiences.

Gartner analyst Eric Schmitt explains the growing challenges of audience segmentation and advertising strategy at Gartner Marketing Symposium/Xpo. #GartnerMKTG #CMO #advertising #marketing

Experts at Gartner Marketing Symposium/Xpo today discussed these growing challenges. They also shared how marketers can overcome them, and better segment and reach their target audiences.

“Marketers today are faced with the tough task of overcoming media fragmentation and changing consumer behaviors. At the same time, they are trying to work around the fact that consumers are more often buying out of ads, by subscribing to services such as Amazon Prime Video and Netflix,” said Eric Schmitt, senior director at Gartner. “Then layer in more competition for attention, higher media prices and often more clutter. Marketers are playing ‘hide-and-seek’ with their target audiences, and they are often coming up short.”

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Marketers must remember that the “where,” “when” and “how” are often just as important as the “who” when it comes to reaching target audiences. To that end, the three strategies for marketers to better identify and engage their target audience include:

Define your audience with care

“In the era of big data, we sometimes lose sight of the big picture. Too often, we start in the weeds, tactically targeting and measuring,” said Mr. Schmitt. “Instead, marketers need to take a top-down approach to their target audience and err on the side of inclusiveness, as you can always refine later. In advertising, multiple audience segments and views are a fact of life.”

There are many ways to activate target audiences in ad campaigns. These include the use of first-party data, as well as third-party data from digital ad tech tools, media platforms, compiled files and media panel sources. These data and tool choices are closely linked to the media marketers’ plan to activate — whether digital display, video, social or mass media such as TV and radio. Media activation entails considerations including cost, scale, precision, accuracy, persistency and portability — and, most importantly, privacy.

“Marketers have ownership of their audience definition. That means they must ensure target segments are concisely articulated, have quality and integrity, adhere to high privacy standards, and are deployed as consistently as possible across media,” added Mr. Schmitt.

Diversify and coordinate your media plan

“When investing ad dollars to media, the three issues that marketers run into are reach, frequency and how much of both of those is actually wasted,” noted Mr. Schmitt. “To best tackle these issues head on, marketers must focus on diversifying and coordinating their media plan.”

According to Gartner, one way to do this is to analyze and manage audience overlap across media, paying close attention to the biggest budget line items, and the places where consumer behavior is changing fastest.

For example, different social media have substantial variance in audience base. Similarly, consumer TV viewing behaviors are rapidly changing — with over-the-top (OTT) quickly gaining traction. Gartner recommends taking an “Integrated Video Planning” approach, where traditional TV and digital initiatives are completely aligned.

“The goal here is to coordinate — and someday, unify — budgeting, metrics, creative, scheduling and organization,” said Mr. Schmitt.

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Make the most of imperfect measurement

Gartner research shows that by diversifying campaigns across media — integrating TV and digital campaigns — marketers are more likely to boost their audience reach than keeping campaigns siloed.

To get the most out of a challenging measurement environment, Gartner recommends that marketers focus on cross-media reach and performance metrics, especially in high-spend and high-growth media. Marketers should tap agency and ad tech partners to craft new use cases, and leverage marketing mix modeling and attribution.

“Marketers have to expect a patchwork set of imperfect metrics and make the most of it — concentrate on the handful of indicators that matter most, like cost-per-incremental reach point,” Mr. Schmitt said.

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