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Micro-targeting. Just because you can, should you?

Good Thinking | November 1, 2016 | 2 min read

In Jurassic Park, Jeff Goldblum’s cynical character questions genius eccentric Richard Attenborough’s tireless quest to genetically engineer dinosaurs. Does he really understand the consequences?

For our media group, there are similarities between this Jurassic Park conundrum and the ability to target consumers on a hyper-local level. Both use breakthrough technology people are excited about because of its great potential. For Dr. Hammond it was the glory of being the next Walt Disney. For media, it’s the opportunity to finally realize the marketer’s holy grail – advertise to exactly the right people, at exactly the right time and with the right message.

The digital technology used to micro-target consumers can be amazingly effective and play a key role in marketing and advertising success. But, without a reach media plan to give it critical mass, it can be as dangerous to your brand as Velociraptors are to visiting grandkids.

We recently proved this to be true for InSinkErator, the world’s largest manufacturer of garbage disposers. There was a strong stakeholder belief that a digital-only media mix would prove just as effective as digital + modest TV.

Before we built a national plan, we implemented a test market approach testing this premise. To create an equal playing field we ensured each had a similar impression level against the audience. Both markets included paid search ads and we included a third market where we only ran paid search to set a baseline – providing an effective and inexpensive way to measure changes in search volume and site traffic during the campaign.

At the end of the campaign the digital + TV media mix drove five times more site traffic than the digital-only campaign. And nearly three times longer site engagement.

This doesn’t prove your “reach media” must be TV, but the media needs to reach the customer base more broadly. Depending on your target audience, Facebook could be a “mass media” channel.

In fact, we have seen similar results with Facebook efforts for another client. A simple gender-age target was actually more effective than when we incorporated additional narrowing filters like income, marital status and interests. By going too narrow we were not reaching enough of our customers.

As Goldblum said, Dr. Hammond’s scientists were “so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should.”

Let us know the results you’ve experienced.