Why performance marketing needs to focus on people, not data

As one door starts to close in the world of third-party data, another is opening – a clearer view of what actually makes consumers tick.

The next phase of performance marketing is to harness a rich and exciting layer of insights of how people really think, feel and act, says Celine Saturnino, Chief Operating Officer at Total Media…

A significant feature of many performance marketing campaigns has been the substantial reliance on third-party data sets to inform planning, identify audiences and measure success. However, a combination of regulatory changes, the move to browsers blocking third-party cookies and mobile tracking becoming largely opt-in means we need to reframe the way we plan, activate and measure performance activity.

Many marketers have long been planning for this change in approach by activating strategies to expand and enrich their own customer segments. Such strategies can provide a strong foundation for many categories, offering enhanced reach and additional value by optimising the approach to different audience groups. There remains a wealth of valuable data within the walled gardens of the major online publishers and matching client first party data with media owner data as well as utilising data clean-room technologies, for the avoidance of transferring any PII [personally identifiable information], provides significant opportunities for marketeers. 

Context is important

Doubling down on first-party strategies isn’t the only route for securing the long-term future of performance advertising (and neither is it always the most viable for categories suffering from data scarcity). It has been well documented that contextual advertising is now making huge leaps forward in being an effective route to targeting and a strategy that will continue to explode into 2022. 

Outside of this, the shift away from third-party cookies provides a huge opportunity to reframe the way we plan, activate and optimise digital activity, to reflect a more rounded view of the way people behave in the real world, the factors that really influence our interactions with brands and our purchase habits. 

Whilst third-party cookies primarily focus on our past behaviours and purchases, we are all more than the sum of our online behaviours. Factors such as our personalities, our emotions, our life stage, our peer groups and personal influencers all have a huge impact on how we respond and interact to advertising. Such zones of influence open a whole new world of existing opportunities:

1) The role of personality and mood

Understanding personality and mood can be a key driver of success in performance marketing. By knowing when people are most likely to respond to a message and how to speak to them, marketers can glean substantial benefits. Utilising marketing survey data, marketers are able to gather a wealth of information on media consumption habits, interests and people’s behaviours. Such data can be used to understand personality types and mood states by time of day and day of week, which is subsequently used to deliver optimised targeting strategies.

In addition, discourse analysis can be used to start to understand personality types. This allows for a greater understanding into the motivations of different audience personality profiles – for example, people with a high level of openness often have high intellectual curiosity and will tend to read deeper into articles, and this can support testing strategies around positioning in content.

2) The importance of emotion

The strength of feeling people have towards a particular topic can have a huge influence on the way they respond. Discourse analysis data available from forums, websites, social platforms and transcripts allows natural language processing techniques to start to understand the emotional intensity of different topics and the positive or negative valence. Using this insight, it is possible to develop advanced creative and messaging strategies to enhance overall responsiveness. In addition, the strength of an emotional reaction to advertising has a strong correlation with performance. Using biometric testing it is possible to pre-test assets to understand how they perform against different emotions, and so optimise to the best-performing.

3) Understanding zone of influence and interest

There are many data sets we can combine to understand more about people’s interests of a particular topic and the strength of that interest. For example, mobile and social data, where we can understand app downloads and interest in specific topics based on tweets and influence paths. At an aggregated level, these different data points start to provide enormous insight and direction into the most favourable environments to reach relevant audiences.

By Celine Saturnino

Chief Operating Officer

Total Media