Digital Media Specialist Gamut Warns Against The Hazards Of ‘Over-Targeting’

Don't pre-suppose your target audience, advises Rachel Clayton, Gamut's VP of insights and analytics.

“Smart media” entity Gamut is under new leadership — GM Rachel Williamson just came onboard from parent company Cox Digital — but the company’s national-to-local mission remains the same.

“Gamut continues to specialize in the local space — offering local at scale, and very much involved in national scope campaigns as well,” said Rachel Clayton, VP of insights and analytics. “We want to [approach] targeting from the perspective of what unique business objective each brand has.”

GeoMarketing: In thinking about mobile campaigns at both the national and local level, you’ve spoken recently about the negative impacts of “over-targeting.” What does this mean, and how can marketers be more effective at reaching consumers across devices?

Well, I hate to say “negative” because it’s such a, well, negative word, right? But the [idea of “over-targeting”] is when an audience segment is pre-selected [without regard] to the business objective. Targeting those people may or may not match up with what a brand is actually trying to do [and] who they’re trying to reach.

What we try to do is take a look at a [mobile] campaign from the perspective of what unique business objective each campaign has. We try to let the data speak for the targeting. Basically, you want to take a look at those objectives before you do your targeting — and let the data speak for itself.

Here’s what I mean by that: Let’s say that a casino comes in with a target of men 25-54, household income of $100k plus. That may be a good target if the business objective is to get men with high incomes into the casino. But if the business objective is to just drive traffic to the casino, or if the business objective is to get users to click on an online game or something like that, what we would recommend is taking a look at the whole campaign — seeing who the converters are — and honing the target that way. Perhaps broadening it out to people who are likely to go to casinos or something like that. We [don’t] want to start with preconceived notions of who the casino goer is.

In your view, has pre-supposing who your target is been a problem in the industry? Brands are excited about the ability to reach a consumer quite accurately on the mobile device in a particular audience segment — but it might not actually be the right target?

Right. I think that because there is so much promise in targeting, sometimes campaigns may choose to go out with a target immediately without looking at the data of a particular campaign. Digital audiences are different than other audiences in media, so where they may know their audience globally because of market research that they’ve done, perhaps on a digital campaign it could be something pretty different — depending on the [local] objective.

You mentioned the national-to-local angle. How does location affect how Gamut approaches targeting?

It depends, of course, on the campaign. If the campaign is interested in a particular region and in delivering a message that relates to that particular region, then it absolutely makes sense to do that. But if it’s, say, a national brand looking to find some insights on different regions at the local level, it definitely makes sense to take a look at those regions as part of a whole campaign. [You always have to look] at how response differs.

You may need a different message to focus on the south, as compared to the north, as compared to the west. The way to find that out is to send out the campaign and then analyze the data as it comes in and adjust it.


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Lauryn Chamberlain Lauryn Chamberlain @laurynchamberla

Lauryn Chamberlain is the Associate Editor of A New York City based journalist, she specializes in stories related to retail, dining, hospitality, and travel.