Merging a Pre-Targeting Mindset Into the Marketing Mix

By John Mracek, CEO, NetSeer

240PIXELSWIDEJohn_Mracek_NetSeer CEOSo you’re a marketer who’s mastered retargeting. You’re reaching your current and former customers, anyone who has visited your website or downloaded your app, and even those who have merely done a search within your broad product category. That adds up to a large pool of prospective future converters, but it’s a finite one that limits potential growth.

To get more people into that pool, you need to jump into the new waters of pre-targeting – tools combining predictive analytics with proven targeting techniques that allow you to identify and start communicating with prospective customers before they’ve even expressed any interest in your brand. With pre-targeting, you can uncover inherent signals before the consumer has an actual purpose in mind.

Here are four steps to getting there:

  1. Expand beyond your comfort zone.

Sure, retargeting is now second-nature to you. But remember several years ago when it was the untried new marketing tool? When, by adding retargeting to non-behavioral, context-based targeting, you succeeded in greatly increasing your conversion rate? Well, as we prepare to enter 2016, pre-targeting is the new retargeting. Also referred to as “inference advertising” and “anticipation marketing”, this is where ads are shown to viewers based on a combination of Big Data and educated predictions during the Search phase to get insight into and hopefully ahead of consumers’ upcoming purchases. This is because the earlier you have insight on customers’ prospective purchases, the earlier you can influence and measure their purchase journey.

  1. Use big data to determine the early behavior of your current customers along their purchase journeys, and then find new people doing these same behaviors right now.

What were your customers doing two or three months before their conversions? Which sites were they visiting? What were they searching for? This signifies early intent, and other people exhibiting these same behaviors are likely to be your customers in a couple of months or more and increases your total targets. By extending your reach up the sales funnel, before people are too far through their decision process, you have a greater chance to influence their product or service selection to your advantage. Traditionally, this is the arena of brand advertising, and PR , but today with online marketing reinvention it has become native advertising and content marketing.

  1. Feed these new prospects into the proverbial marketing funnel and follow them in real-time as they move toward conversions.

Don’t just get your new ‘lookalike’ premium audiences and forget about them. Use your knowledge of how previous converters have behaved to build relationships by personalizing the creative and content they encounter during their buyer’s journey. As your current targets move forward from immersion in the pool, to 30 days in, to 20 days in and beyond, you can continually infer intent and progress – and react accordingly by showing personalized creative and suggesting relevant content — by how previous customers have behaved at the same time periods.

  1. Prove the worth of the process – and justify the expense – by changing your attribution model.

Give credit where credit is due by properly crediting the top and mid-funnels. To get the best picture of your campaign ROI, an attribution model that shares an equal percentage of credit between the first and last touch, then spreads the rest throughout the middle of the funnel, can give you a more accurate picture than using last touch only. Optimize across the whole funnel so that the bottom of the funnel doesn’t take a disproportionate share of your budget.

Now, let’s look at how this might apply to a real-life scenario.

Perhaps you sell automobiles. You’ve been retargeting people who’ve visited your web site, and people who searched for autos on Google. But big data shows you that a large number of your customers heavily search outdoor activities, such as kayaking, water skiing, snow skiing, fishing and similar topics, as if they are basing their new auto purchase decision on its capacity for carrying their equipment. With pre-targeting, you hit them at the outdoor sports search stage and steer them to your brand.

After all, the best teachers don’t just call on the kids who raise their hands. They know from past behavior which kids are most likely to have the answers – or can be led to the answer with a few well-targeted hints.

For marketers, it’s time to stop serving just the hand-raisers and to instead also identify through intent signals the high-value custom audiences most likely to convert before those hands go up.

John Mracek, CEO, NetSeer
As NetSeer’s fearless leader, John has seen his fair share of the digital media evolution John joined NetSeer from, where he ran the company’s ad network, business development, and merchant sales as VP and general manager of distributed commerce. Prior, he managed ad products and the introduction of Yahoo SmartAds as VP of advertising products at Yahoo!. Previous roles included CEO at Covia, president of AdKnowledge, and executive posts and entrepreneurial residencies at market-leaders, Adobe and Apple Computer. He holds a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Computer Science and Engineering from MIT. Little known fact: back in the Jurassic Era of videogames, Mr. Mracek programmed the Atari Game Phoenix for the Atari 2600 system.