LONDON: Brand segmentation efforts should never be compromised by whether the resulting consumer target audience can be easily found in media or media surveys, an industry figure advises.

In a WARC Best Practice paper, How to apply segmentation to your media strategy, Sue Elms, consultant with Skin the Cat Ltd, stresses that “the media tail must not wag the dog”, no matter how challenging it may be to turn a desired consumer or customer segment into a practical target audience for media activities.

For example, a “luxury holiday” target cannot be allowed to morph into 35-54-year-old ABs when it comes to planning and buying television campaigns.

By describing the target consumer segment deeply and precisely – who they are, what they think, feel and do and how they drive growth for your brand – Elms contends that media experts will be better able to select the most effective and engaging media routes to take while also fuelling creative thinking based on lifestyle insights.

“It also provides harder, implementational, ‘connective tissue’ for finding target proxies in industry media audience surveys and finding look-a-like (LAL) targets in digital media,” she adds.

The process of identifying LAL targets has become increasingly sophisticated, driven by the data now available in the digital space. “We can now take a client’s customer segment and bridge it to people found in both the client and media owner databases or map it to profiled media audiences,” Elms explains.

She also recommends embracing a range of techniques according to media and task. “For example, behavioural targeting online is compelling but just one option, and it is perfectly possible that simply targeting your advertising to relevant contexts is an easier and more effective route.”

The advantage of behavioural targeting, she suggests, it that it helps a brand step outside the expected competitive space to search out other places the same audience might go and that might also be cheaper and offer higher reach – albeit marketers may end up trading off a certain amount of inaccuracy or “wastage”.

Elms identifies two major challenges that marketers need to be aware of: controlling reach and frequency control across individual platforms; and ensuring the quality of both data and modelling.

“Navigating across media to build audiences and move them along their journey towards purchase – providing the right communications in the right ‘moment to talk’ - is the art and science we pay experts for,” she says.

Data sourced from WARC