One question is enough: the future of audience validation

One way to get to know audiences without relying on tracking is through consumer validation, but this can be limited in size, time consuming and costly as an investment. But now, a combination of AI modelling and one simple question can transform how you understand audiences

Tim Geenen, CEO and co-founder of Rayn addresses the challenges faced by marketers in the wake of cookie changes to advise that simply asking consumers for validation and coupling this with synthetic data could hold the key to the future of advertising.

Tightening privacy regulations and the pending demise of third-party cookies mean that the way advertisers target audiences is changing. 88% of UK consumers want more control over the information they share with companies, forcing brands to find new ways to get to know audiences (and optimise the effectiveness of their ad investments) without relying on intrusive cross-site tracking. One way to achieve this is through the ‘consumer validation’ of predictive and curated audiences. 

In the past, customer validation has been associated with asking consumers to complete lengthy surveys, often in return for some form of payment or reward. However, in 2023, with marketing budgets under increased scrutiny, the high costs and limited scale of survey panels have fallen out of step with the needs of the brand, the publisher, and the consumer.  

The audience’s attention span is getting shorter and shorter, with some online video ads lasting as little as six seconds. In this context, asking consumers to complete a 15-30-question survey is unnecessary, off-putting, and wasteful. Fortunately, it is now possible to gain the key audience insights you need for your campaign by asking one single question to validate your existing assumptions about a predictive or curated audience.

Test your predictions

Predictive audiences use artificial intelligence to learn from audience groups about their product preferences and their spending habits. AI can learn about the behaviours of these groups and make predictions about them. In the case of predictive audiences, a single question can be used to verify the accuracy of the predictions based on behaviours in the moment. For example, if someone is looking at an online recipe of Polynesian food, it’s reasonable to include that behaviour within an audience that’s interested in food, with a certainty of 100%. However, based on analysing existing data, we can also predict that the same audience will be likely to travel more than average (with a certainty of, say, 70%) and be interested in sustainability (60%).

Now, because those latter percentages are below the benchmark of what we consider a good predictive audience, this is the perfect moment to deploy a single question that literally confirms or denies whether the prediction is valid, yes or no. Validating predictive audiences in this way helps to reduce wastage in media spending by serving ads only to relevant consumers, all in an entirely privacy-sensitive way.

Just ask

Curated audiences, on the other hand, are necessary when advertisers have a very specific audience requirement. Publishers now have a huge opportunity to prove they have the specific audiences an advertiser is looking for. There are still a lot of publishers leaving money on the table, simply because they cannot confirm that their audience is, for example, 25 or older. Certain brands are willing to spend a lot on advertising for that audience, but with no GDPR-compliant way to confirm that sort of question, publishers are struggling to maximise the value of their inventory.

The answer is to ask that one question: are you 25 or older? Yes or no? 

For certain publishers, this simple question could open the door to millions in revenue, just by helping to verify the presence of a particular audience. Perhaps a brand is interested in a family audience that has had a baby within the last three months. Or an audience that doesn’t currently watch Netflix. 

Rather than carry out an expensive and time-consuming survey, advertisers can deploy a single question over millions  of people, so even if you only have 0.05% response rate, it's still a much bigger and cheaper option than an actual survey panel. Instead, you can focus your attention and your budget on the particular audience that is most relevant to you, right now, based on your current business priorities. 

With just one question that validates consumer interests, advertisers can start to build a bigger, more accurate picture of audiences. These insights can then be used to inform data and create and update audience cohorts that help to future-proof your campaigns against changes in privacy regulation and shifts in customer sentiment.

Optimised, more relevant, more effective advertising is only a question away. 

By Tim Geenen

CEO and Co-founder