Yes, specificity at scale is possible

One major complaint by marketers, particularly in evaluating ROI, is that their digital advertising campaigns aren’t specific enough. In other words, they can’t refine their targeting to a narrow enough audience segment, so unwanted recipients are being included in their advertising efforts. Thus, they’re paying for people who aren’t interested in their ads and have a lower chance of converting, similar to the “spray-and-pray” method. They believe this is inevitable, but I argue that specificity is, in fact, possible.

Some companies achieve such narrow targeting that you could shake the hand of each person who saw your ad -- within PII privacy restrictions, of course. This is actually more reasonably attained in B2B settings, contrary to popular belief. Many marketers think only the B2C setting can tie data back to individuals, naming each person on their target list, but that crosses boundaries that are not acceptable to cross. Advertisers must be privy to PII privacy laws and other regulations that limit how much information they can know and use about an individual. Whereas you may think business accounts are identifiable by company name only, zooming the camera out too far, some powerful technologies can actually zoom in on business accounts and peel back each layer, first with the intended industry, then company names, then job titles. In other words, ethics and legal restrictions may prevent you from knowing the name of the media buyer at the company you want to see your digital ads, but recent technologies can point you to the decision maker whose job responsibility is to see your ad, explore your offering and advocate for it to their executive teams. This is the power of specificity in digital advertising.

This all seems very granular, which is why marketers think they can’t achieve this level of specificity at scale. Once again, I would challenge that belief. If you can do it once, why can’t you do it again? And if you have the power, why can’t you do it millions of times? We live in a world where any mundane task that needs to be done multiple times should and can be automated, learned by a machine or AI-infused technology and overseen by a strategic-minded human. This means companies possessing the ability (i.e. technology) to refine targeting to business individuals of specific job titles at key accounts can do it repeatedly until it builds in scale, while maintaining the same level of detail. Programmatic technology that is powerful enough to handle such large scale and is fueled by reliable, validated data can multiply the process tenfold and analyze billions of data points in real time, resulting in incredible scale of the delivery of ads to the intended recipients, with each delivery achieving pinpoint accuracy.

If you are a brand, you can find a tech company that offers exactly what you need. If you are an agency, with brands or publishers on one side and the technology provider on the other, look for a tech partner that can achieve a wide range of goals for your clients. An effective way to discern a technology provider’s fit for your client portfolio is to look at client success stories and explore how their solution can translate across your clients’ various needs. You may not want to go with the biggest name company, since customer service may be sacrificed for a recognizable name. You may also not want to go with the brand-new tech vendor claiming their solution is infallible, since proof of concept is crucial in managing multimillion-dollar budgets and making a business case that will lead to high ROI. Striking a balance between the two will lead you to an ad tech company that is experienced enough to have proven success under their belt, powerful enough to drive largescale campaigns with narrow targeting, intimate enough to provide the human-driven integrated ABM strategy to help your campaigns achieve maximum optimization and savvy enough to deliver transparent reporting that explains the effects of your spending. While that sounds like best-case scenario, these companies do exist, and they are hungry to prove to you that specificity at scale is possible. Because it is, and it may be just what you need.

Laura Bakopolus is an accomplished, creative and strategic marketing leader with a proven ability to develop and implement integrated marketing and communication strategies and plans that support business objectives. Connect with her on LinkedIn here.

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