When brands launch digital advertising campaigns, they rely on their knowledge of consumers to make decisions about specific messages, offers, and creative preferences.
Data enables a brand to understand its audience and to optimize engagement and performance. The majority of brands today rely on their own records and purchasable audiences from third-party providers for this information. This form of data collection is passive; brands are missing an opportunity to actually ask their audiences what they care about.
While first- and third-party data have their advantages, their accuracy and timeliness can be limited. These data sets may also fail to define a very specific desired audience--for example, consumers who want healthy, fast food options or minivan shoppers who want a high-performance vehicle. These audiences are easy to describe, but very hard to find online. Simply asking consumers to express their opinions and preferences through polls is a capability that is often overlooked.
Polling is so intuitive and logical to marketers it seems almost too obvious–and possibly too cumbersome to implement. However, poll questions can be created and made live in minutes–whether they be run across purchased media, embedded on a publisher's or brand’s own site, or published through a social network. Data collected from these polls can be used to jump-start a campaign before it even begins.
It’s not like traditional surveying; the goal is to determine the people you shouldn’t be advertising to, to find individuals who demonstrate interest and intent, and then find them–and lookalikes–across the digital landscape. Done right, polling data is a fresh, timely, and inexpensive way to build highly specific, custom audiences. Layering the data on top of robust modeling techniques also provides scalability.
This is instrumental for advertisers launching a product or trying to identify a new audience. Imagine, for instance, a premium organic quick service restaurant (QSR) brand with a new location, looking to target on-the-go consumers who value quality and healthy ingredients. By asking consumers directly about their values, the brand can find its true prospects and avoid fast-food buyers who are looking for the cheapest, fastest option.
Another benefit of campaign-specific data collected by consumer direct polling is that it allows brands to identify erroneous intenders in third-party segments, leaving only true intenders. For example, when a cat food brand was targeting a segment called “Pets: Cats” through a third-party provider, the campaign performed under goal for two months. The brand media manager investigated the audience and discovered that many of the consumers in that third-party segment were placed there because they searched for and watched cat videos online. By launching a poll that separated true cat owners from crazed cat video lovers in response, the brand was able to create a custom segment and salvage the campaign, increase performance, and drive a significant ROI.
Additionally, poll data delivers unique audience insights and ensures that brands are preventing wasted impressions by avoiding the consumers who declare disinterest in an offer.
When a national credit reporting agency needed to find consumers interested in credit protection, it launched two polls. The first poll asked consumers whether they would pay for premium credit card protection. Those who chose “yes” skewed toward credit card holders in suburban areas. A second question, which was launched in response to a recent credit card breach at Target, asked consumers whether they were interested in identity theft solutions. In this case, consumers in the market for identity theft protection skewed toward single adults living alone, as well as parents of young children. Consumers who answered “no” were anti-targeted and also modeled to ensure impressions were only served to consumers with the highest purchase intent.
So how do you find the right consumers for your product? Just ask them. It seems easy enough, but many brands are making the wrong assumptions because they’re not talking to their consumers–or asking the right questions.