Marketers need to achieve “quality scale” with their campaigns if they want to strike the right balance between wasteful mass messaging and targeting that becomes overly granular.

Nishat Mehta, IRI’s president/media, discussed this subject at the Advertising Research Foundation’s (ARF) 2019 AUDIENCExSCIENCE conference.

And rather than choosing between audience scale and quality in binary terms, he suggested, the objective should be to combine these two factors together.

“You want as much of both as you can get,” he said. (For more, read WARC’s in-depth report: IRI cautions against “micro-targeting” or too much of a good thing.)

Some brands – particularly in the consumer-packaged goods sector – can be tempted to define their audience as “everyone”, and thus eschew the importance of targeting.

“We are challenged to convince people that they need to target more. Our argument here is less about targeting being used as a binary consideration – ‘you either get my message or you don’t,’” Mehta said.

Instead, it reflects an understanding of nuance among consumers: “Everybody in the very broad target audience … could consume your brand. But they still should get a different message.”

When targeting becomes too micro-focused, however, the efficiencies begin to dissipate. “Chances are, you probably don’t have 300 million different ways in which your product can actually be used,” Mehta observed.

Although the product category may determine the proper number of targeted messages, technology and its impact in the creative-production process “probably places limits on us”, he explained.

“We can talk about dynamic creative all day long, but the moment a human is no longer actually able to view all of the different possible creative combinations, the chance of a brand making a mistake goes way up,” Mehta continued.

Brands should also consider the optimal number of ad executions. “And if that’s the metric we use, 2,000 is probably too much and three is probably too little. But that’s a large range,” he noted.

Mehta outlined a more basic accounting: “A [single] human being should actually be able to view every [single] piece of creative,” with such engagement “validating that this is, in fact, the target that will respond best to this piece of creative.

“The science can come up with all sorts of different ideas. But if a human cannot look at all these things, you’ve crossed the line.”

Sourced from WARC