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BizReport : Research archives : January 14, 2010

Why marketers need more than targeting to engage consumers

When the Internet opened up to advertisers there was plenty of room for all comers. Just a few years ago, the marketplace filled and targeting capabilities were born allowing marketers to target specific consumers within specific demographics. Still there was room for everyone. Today the online medium is crammed with marketers and targeting platforms but a new report indicates that targeting isn't enough any longer.

by Kristina Knight

MITsloan.jpgA study from MIT's Sloan School of Management finds that targeting ads to specific consumers does work, but because there are so many marketers in the space competition may be reducing how profitable online advertising can be.

"[If, for example,] Facebook was the only online provider, it would make a fortune," said MIT Sloan Assistant Professor Alessandro Bonatti. "But as technology keeps improving, more and more websites can sell very narrow products to very specialized audiences. And with lots of people targeting the same audience, the profits to be made through specialized advertising become more and more spread out."

What can marketers do to target the consumer audience and yet stand stand out?

First, remember your brand message. Offers are great ways to engage consumers, but the overall brand message needs to remain the same. That way when the consumer sees an ad for Brand A Carpet Cleaner - which they loved - they don't confuse it with Brand C's Carpet Cleaner - which didn't work as well.

Second, think about the demographic most likely to respond to your brand and offers. Now narrow it just a little bit more. If women between 24 and 35 are your target market, can you narrow it by business women 24-35 or homemakers 24-35? If you can, keep the main segment but also create a message for the hyper-targeted segment as well.

Third, think outside the box. So mostly women buy your household products. Women aren't the only people buying carpet cleaner, window treatments or wall art. Men buy these things, too, but on a smaller scale. Think about these smaller targeting areas while creating a campaign geared toward a larger demographic segment.

Tags: ad targeting, MIT Sloan School of Management, online advertising, targeted ads, targeted advertising

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