8 Reasons Advertisers Need People-Based Marketing

With publishing powerhouse Time Inc. entering the “people-based marketing” arena, it becomes clear that addressable media is fast becoming the future of marketing.

Facebook coined the term in 2014 when it launched its people-based solution, Custom Audiences, allowing advertisers to upload and match their customer email lists with Facebook’s huge audience of logged-in users to target ads. And the concept is catching on:

    • People-based advertising has doubled or tripled conversion rates for advertisers compared to the usual cookie-based targeting practices.


    • Advertisers, in turn, are directing more dollars this way: Facebook’s ad revenues are predicted to jump from $11 billion in 2014 to $27 billion in 2017.


  • The competition is quickly following suit. Twitter, Google, Microsoft Yahoo, Pinterest, Amazon, eBay and AOL have either launched their own people-based solutions or have something in the works.

While advertisers are finding success with customized audience options, new addressable media solutions are emerging, allowing advertisers to reach and engage real people on the innumerable content sites and apps they frequent beyond and outside of these giant media companies.

For advertisers seeking to increase ROAS in today’s cross-channel, cross-device consumer marketplace, people-based marketing isn’t just a good idea; it’s a necessity. Here’s why.

1. Target customers with pinpoint accuracy.

Consumers are a tough crowd these days. Their expectations of brands are higher than ever, especially when they’re online. Research shows that four in five Americans ignore digital display ads, while only one in three ignore TV ads. People-based advertising is powerful because it uses the wealth of information brands already have about their existing customers to reach the right person with the right message. It gives digital advertisers an easy-button for instant relevancy and targeting efficiency.

2. Cut the fat from your ad spend.

“Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted. I just don’t know which half.” If you’re in advertising, you’ve surely heard that famous line but, finally, there’s something you can do about it. Targeting broad demographic segments or unreliable collections of web cookies leaves a ton of room for error. By linking ads to people, rather than cookies, people-based advertising enables brands and media agencies to “buy” only the people they want to reach. No more, no less. That’s a surefire strategy for reducing the waste and getting more bang for your advertising buck.

3. Count on real people for real results.

The cookie-based tracking methods advertisers have used for 20 years don’t work well across web and mobile devices, wreaking havoc on their ability to target ads and measure outcomes with accuracy. According to a 2015 Econsultancy poll of digital marketers worldwide, less than one-third are capable of recognizing customers across web and mobile. People-based marketing solves the cross-device challenge by tying back campaigns to actual people. So advertisers know who they are reaching, who is converting, what campaigns are driving conversions, and which audiences and campaigns are driving more revenue.

4. Take advantage of the highest-quality data.

People-based marketing is powered by the most fresh and accurate data that a brand can use: its own first-party data. In a recent Signal study, 82 percent of marketers said they plan to increase their use of first-party data this year because of the value it can add to their customer understanding and engagement. Because first-party data is based on the brand’s direct interactions with customers, it is the key for deriving immediate, unique and granular customer insights – authentic insights advertisers will never glean from assumptive third-party “lookalike” data.

5. See the entire customer journey, not just one stop.

As customers engage with brands across the web, mobile apps, email, brick-and-mortar stores and other touchpoints, they may be represented by multiple fragmented profiles. A people-based approach pulls all this online and offline data together to create a single view of the customer. Advertisers can understand the cross-channel, cross-device habits of customers and the different steps they take on their path to conversion. This not only helps advertisers deliver the most relevant messages at each stage of the journey, it helps inform strategies to pull customers back on the road to conversion.

6. Make your message matter.

Hey, consumers are human. They like being made to feel special, like someone took the time to really get to know them. Consumers demand immediate, relevant and valuable brand experiences at the touch of a fingertip – or else they ignore, delete, unsubscribe. People-based advertising means more relevant ads, and relevance is a key factor in getting consumers to respond. A recent study of Facebook’s solution, for example, found that a people-based approach achieved conversions rates 3.87 times higher than demographic or category-based targeting.

7. Cut down on ad blocking.

Yep, I’m going there. Most advertisers and publishers think of ad blocking as the plague. It’s increasingly prevalent, and it means that advertisers need to think differently about the ads and creative they use to reach and engage customers. What better way to damp down the ad rage than personalizing ads and opening the door for a model of advertising that is more meaningful and less intrusive to consumers. That’s the whole point of people-based advertising. Not saying it’s the solution, but it’s certainly a step in the right direction.

8. Boost ROAS.

In a recent Signal study, over two-thirds of marketers said that first-party data provided the most powerful campaign lift and the highest increase in customer lifetime value. As the fuel for people-based marketing, it allows advertisers to engage real customers with speed, accuracy and value, reducing ad waste, driving click-throughs and conversions and, as a result, increasing a brand’s bottom line. And that’s an investment even the most budget-conscious C-levels can’t contend.

Digital advertisers (and consumers) have become understandably disenchanted with the state of standard display ads. But disruptive technology and people-based advertising is paving the way for a new era in which the nirvana of right person, right message, right time is actually possible.

Learn more about people-based marketing, download the report: “Advertiser’s Guide to People-Based Marketing.”


Originally published February 18, 2016

Kathy Menis

Kathy is an expert in technology marketing, with 20 years of experience creating and leading strategic, results-driven marketing programs. She was formerly the CMO at Signal.

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