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Trends and Tools:
How to Effectively Reach Your Target Audience

By Peter Koeppel

Businesses spend billions of dollars on advertising every year, but waste hundreds of millions by failing to effectively target their marketing messages to specific audiences. Reaching those consumers who want and need your products and services requires strategic planning, research, and focus.

You need to decide who your target audience is, where they’re located, and how you’re going to reach them. Until recently, this information was difficult to find and apply. Thanks to rapid innovations, media professionals can use sophisticated research tools to help you determine who your target audience should be and how to reach them most efficiently.

Advertising Trends to Watch: Technological advances have changed consumers’ media viewing habits. Therefore, buying ad spots on broadcast TV and expecting a great response is no longer a feasible strategy for reaching your target audience.

Savvy media buyers know this and stay ahead of the competition by following current trends. If you want to get the most out of your advertising dollars, you need to be aware of the following media trends.

  • Fragmentation – Spending your advertising dollars to reach your audience most efficiently in a fragmented media culture is more important than ever. Consumers can be harder to reach these days because of the enormous number of entertainment options available to them. In the 1950s, and for decades after, only three television networks existed. Now, hundreds of television channels compete for consumers’ attention along with the Internet, iPods, music downloads, and video games.

  • Cluster Analysis – To determine target markets, the media buying industry is trending toward research that combines demographically targeted models with psychographic models. Psychographic research groups consumers through psychological information such as opinions, attitudes, beliefs, tastes, and personality traits. For example, in the past, market researchers lumped together all married women aged thirty-five to fifty-four with a household income of $50,000 plus. But as a more global society has evolved, factors like race, age, and region have become less important in determining consumer habits. Like-minded individuals might extend into many different groups, based on factors such as the types of music they listen to and the types of cars they buy.

  • Direct Response Advertising – Media buyers can help you target your audience more efficiently through the expertise that comes from years of experience testing various products. They could tell you, for example, that an ad for a pet-care product running on a network such as Animal Planet during particular time periods on certain days is certain to perform well because they have an extensive database of information to that effect.

  • Satellite TV and TiVo – Satellite TV, DIRECTV, and DISH Network have cut into the market share of cable TV. These viewers tend to be a little more affluent, so smart media dollars are shifting away from cable and into satellite TV. Media dollars are also shifting from broadcast TV networks—ABC, CBS, and NBC—into cable TV, because broadcast TV has become prohibitively expensive for some advertisers.
    Another trend that’s emerging is TiVo, which records the viewing habits of its subscribers. TiVo could sell that information to advertisers, who wouldn’t know who the viewers were, just their viewing habits, and who might learn that a large portion of TiVo owners frequently watch ESPN, for example. Knowing the demographics of ESPN viewers, advertisers with a male-targeted product can efficiently reach this particular group who are watching male-oriented sports networks.

Research Tools to Use: Fortunately for advertisers, technological advances also offer several new ways of targeting their audience and tracking the effectiveness of their ad purchases. This allows media buyers to stay on top of trends and maximize their advertising dollars.

Some of the most valuable research tools and targeting methods currently available for reaching consumers through TV, the Internet, and other media, include:

  • Nielsen – Their research helps to determine the cost efficiency of reaching a particular target audience. It enables advertisers to estimate the cost per thousand people reached by a network in order to determine cost-efficiency for a particular demographic group. For example, if an advertiser wanted to reach women ages thirty-five to fifty-four, Nielsen could tell which networks are most cost-efficient at reaching that target. Nielsen also has research profile information on thousands of online targets that help advertisers strengthen their creative message, strategy, and web development efforts.

  • Competitive Media Reports – With this service, available by subscription, advertisers can check out the competition and learn from their media buying habits. An insurance company that wanted to market its product to GEICO’s audience, for example, could pull GEICO’s TV advertising schedule and see on which television networks and time periods GEICO runs ads. If GEICO is spending a lot of money to run ads frequently on certain networks and at certain times, then a similar strategy is probably profitable for them. The competing company could then buy advertising at similar times on the same networks to market their product.

  • Mediamark Research – Usually referred to as MRI, this multimedia audience research company surveys 26,000 consumers every six months to find out what products they purchase and which television networks they watch most frequently. Survey results that showed that those consumers who bought a particular brand of room deodorizer also frequently watched The Do-It-Yourself Channel, would indicate that an advertiser who wished to market a similar product should then use that network for their advertising schedule.

  • Adtag and Adcopy – Comcast Cable now has these market segmentation products, which allow an advertiser to create multiple versions of a commercial, tailoring each to specific geographic, demographic, and psychographic market segments, and run them simultaneously. With Adcopy, an advertiser can simultaneously send different commercials to different market segments. For example, in a single market, an Adcopy commercial for Ford might highlight an F-150 truck in a rural locale, an Explorer SUV in a suburban neighborhood, and a Taurus sedan in an urban area.

Adtag follows the same principle, but broadcasts a single commercial in all market segments with a customized “tag” at the end, featuring information specific to various geographic locations within a market, such as the address of the nearest Ford dealership, in the last five seconds of the commercial.

If you need to support a single brand with multiple messages—even in multiple languages—these services could be invaluable.

  • Software – Media buyers have computer software that enables them to track results and analyze in real time an advertising campaign’s efficiency at reaching a target audience. The software links the buyer’s computer to call centers in order to measure the results of a direct response campaign almost instantaneously. They can then adjust the campaign, if necessary, for greater efficiency.

Effectively Reaching Your Target in the Future: To remain competitive, advertisers must keep on top of the latest trends in media and the most effective tools to help them reach their target audiences. An experienced media professional can help businesses find the best means to convey their message and utilize the latest trends and tools to reach specifically targeted audiences. When you apply these trends and tools to your advertising strategy, you will reach your market without wasting millions in the process.

Read other articles and learn more about Peter Koeppel.

[This article is available at no-cost, on a non-exclusive basis. Contact PR/PR at 407-299-6128 for details and requirements.]

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