The right audience is more important than a big audience

In an article published by Adobe’s CMO, former brand manager of Procter & Gamble’s Tide, Todd Morris said many marketers “think they’re using data, but they’re really at step one of a 10-step process.” He explained that in the early ’90s, P&G held a belief that mass marketing and owning large segments of consumers was critical to their success. However, new data analytics have proven this theory wrong. In fact, he now tells us that 80% of all sales from new consumer package goods come from 2.5% of all shoppers. We are now finding that the right audience is more important than a big audience. Over time, and with careful testing, Big Data is the secret to identifying these hyper-targeted audiences and their “look-alikes” with great accuracy.

This is probably why P&G moved toward a highly targeted digital-first strategy as early as 2013. The brand publicly committed to spending 35% or more of their $7.2 billion in marketing outlays that year on targeted digital media, with a long-term goal of 70% going to programmatic media. Less than two years following this strategy, the company said it would cut back because, as P&G’s Morris explained, “We targeted too much, and we went too narrow, and now we’re looking at: What is the best way to get the most reach but also the right precision?”

P&G quickly learned that targeted media is also expensive media, and offers fewer options for the emotional impact delivered from sight, sound and motion. During the course of tracking their results, P&G began moderating their buy to bring more traditional television back into their media mix.

Although P&G has stumbled as an early mover — in fact, adding to the woes that the retail titan has been facing in its sluggish core business — the digital leaders has voiced no regrets for moving ahead of the market. As they say, “It’s impossible to steer a boat that’s not moving at all.” Now P&G is miles ahead of its competitors in understanding this new wave of consumerism.

[See more stories and insights like this in Dan Cobb’s new book, Surfing the Black Wave: Brand Leadership in a Digital Age, available now.]