NEW YORK: Holiday Inn, the hotel chain owned by InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG), boosted several core brand metrics by targeting "lookalike" web users who shared characteristics with its most attractive customers.

Phil Maves, director/audience delivery at TNS North America – the WPP-owned research provider which worked on the "lookalike" program with IHG – discussed this topic at the Market Research in the Mobile World conference.

He outlined how the firm began with a research panel of 10,000 prospective patrons and whittled them down to the 2,200 shoppers that were willing to increase their spending with Holiday Inn.

"It's two audiences, really, in one," he said. (For more, including details about the methodology and results, read Warc's exclusive report: How "lookalike" consumers boosted Holiday Inn.)

"It's that core of people who … already buy your brand. They like it, they're happy with it and they're willing to buy more in the future."There's also that 'conquest' audience: that acquisition group of people who don't currently buy it, but they have a favourable view of the brand and they're willing to buy it in the future."

Having identified these attractive prospects, TNS allied with data experts at KBM Group – which is also part of WPP Group – to earmark 15m online consumers who shared their specific habits and characteristics.

Mindshare, which belongs to the same holding company and is IHG's media shop, then purchased highly targeted inventory aimed solely at this cohort.

"There's generally been a gulf between market research and media buying. We wanted to bridge that gap," said Maves.

"It's not about taking a radical leap into the unknown: it's more pivoting and saying, 'What else can we do with this data to reach audiences online?'"

While attempting to reach "lookalike" shoppers is a common strategy, Maves argued the bespoke research underpinning the efforts for Holiday Inn was vital.

"Media buying agencies are dealing with lookalike models all the time," he said. "The difference being that we're starting with the research."

Data sourced from Warc