Signal Use Case: Reduce Wasted Media Spend with Exclusion Targeting

Targeted marketing produces higher returns for your budget by focusing on consumers who are most likely to buy your product or service.  A key strategy for avoiding wasted media spend is exclusion targeting, also known as audience suppression, which lets you exclude a selected audience from seeing irrelevant messages or offers.


Here are some common scenarios where it makes sense to use exclusion targeting:

  • A brand running a new customer acquisition campaign for its membership card program wants to exclude current membership cardholders.
  • A global hotel company wants to exclude employees (who get discounted rates) from seeing online offers.
  • A retailer trying to reactivate lapsed customers wants to exclude active customers from a retargeting campaign.
  • An automaker wants to exclude customers who recently bought new cars from seeing banner ads.

At Signal, customers often tell us that they know they are wasting countless dollars targeting customers who have already purchased.   But their marketing systems are just too disconnected to react to signals in a timely manner.

In fact, for many businesses, the opportunity to eliminate these wasted impressions and divert marketing dollars into acquiring new customers could mean the difference between success and failure at the end of the year.  This is especially true for companies that aren’t built around high-volume, repeat purchases.

Signal’s platform enables marketers to use real-time signals from any consumer touchpoint – online, offline, mobile – to trigger immediate actions to any of their technology platforms or advertising endpoints (such as Facebook ads, Google Customer Match, etc.0 Unlike single­point solutions built for a narrow band of functionality, Signal spans the entire width of a marketer’s technology stack.

Of course, single-point technologies such as an ad server or an email platform can be rigged for exclusion targeting within their own channel. But the value of Signal is that you can send cross-channel, cross-device exclusion targeting triggers to any and all technologies in your marketing stack.

For example, if you’re a travel retailer and one of your customers buys plane tickets to Europe via your mobile app, you can alert your retargeted display, email, and website personalization platforms to stop advertising European airfares to that person.  Your ad dollars might be better spent showing the customer offers for European hotels or rental cars.

Exclusion targeting can also help you make sure that you’re not cyberstalking consumers.  The customer who just purchased a laptop on your site doesn’t want to see an endless stream of laptop ads everywhere they go online.  Why spend money on ads that customers find “creepy” or that reveal gaps in your cross­-channel marketing coordination?

How much money is squandered by marketers advertising to customers they know should not be targeted?  I haven’t seen any research on this but the feedback we’ve heard from clients is that it could be as high as 10-20% of their total budgets.  And that doesn’t count the potential revenue they lost on sales that weren’t made, but could have been — if they’d spent that money in more effective ways.

For example,  $2 million in wasted media spend equals $6 million in lost sales if your marketing ROI is 3-to-1, while $3 million in wasted media dollars adds up to $30 million in lost revenue if your ROI is 10-to-1.

There’s also an incalculable negative effect on customer relationships when people are continuously targeted with messages and offers that they don’t want. They feel like a nameless, faceless target instead of the valued customer they really are.

Savvy marketers are no longer willing to accept this waste as a cost of doing business. Exclusion targeting with the Signal is enabling brands to stop bombarding customers with annoying messages on the web, mobile, email and more.  With Signal, marketers can take control of their messaging without reducing reach, ultimately increasing their ROI.

Originally published June 24, 2014, updated February 20, 2020

Josh Dreller was formerly Director of Product Marketing at Signal.

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