Media Buying: Why Consumer Insights Should Come First

Media buying is the procurement of media space and time for advertising. Simple enough, right?

Wrong. With users active on a growing number of media and devices, the competition for advertising real estate is fierce.

A far cry from the scattergun approach of traditional media buying, where bids were placed for slots on radio, billboards, magazines and television to gain the widest exposure possible.

Greater emphasis now lies on the impact the ad has on the individual who sees it.

Our data shows paid media is still a prolific means of generating awareness, but what can media buyers do to ensure the success of their campaigns?

Effective media buying requires deep consumer insights

The rise in digital consumer touchpoints, combined with their demands for quality and authenticity from ads, have raised the bar for media buyers and planners.

Ads are still required to have a wide enough reach as they always have, but now they need to be perfectly positioned in the correct channel, with a creative that aligns with the attitudes, motivations and perceptions of its target audience.

22% of internet users state their reason for blocking ads is too many are annoying or irrelevant.

It’s not surprising that users respond best to ads that are tailored to their interests, however, the rise of ad-blocking software shows users aren’t simply ignoring irrelevant ads, they’re taking action against them.

With the responsibility of campaign-efficiency resting on buyers’ shoulders, and with consumer expectations rising, success now hinges on how effective the media buyer’s targeting is.

Consumer insights guiding placement and creative

As part of an effective advertising strategy, media buyers choose the best channels for their clients to advertise on.

The sector of the brand, budgets, and the return opportunity offered by the publisher guides the media buyer towards the most profitable channel.

But the primary basis for this decision depends on aligning the characteristics of the brand’s target market and creative with the specific media channel they’re most active on.

Not only this, consumers have certain expectations of the types of content they’re expecting to see on certain channels.

This is why consumer insights should determine the placement of the ad, just as much as the creative.

Achieving this relies on harmonizing behavioral, demographic and attitudinal data, which leads to an understanding of how and why users are taking certain actions to guide both messaging and positioning.  

Here’s how:

  • Demographic: Includes characteristics such as gender, age, income, marital status, education and location.  
  • Behavioral data: Understanding how and where users discover and engage with content, whether it’s on websites, social media or traditional media such as T.V. and radio.
  • Attitudinal data: Information collected from customers showing why they engage with certain media types. This is formed from their opinions on brands and products, but also wider attitudes and approaches to life.

Relying solely on demographic and behavioral data to guide the creative and its placement negates one crucial aspect of the consumer profile: why.

Understanding ‘why’ they engage with certain content and media types adds an extra layer of security in an increasingly volatile advertising landscape.

It helps to cement to both brand and buyer that the ad will effectively align with what users want from certain media.

Building a deep understanding through attitudinal data

Asking the right questions about your audience is key to understanding both the types of content that will resonate, and which channels to place it on. But going a level deeper and focusing on what motivates users to build connections with brands is essential.

This is what you need to know:

Attitudes: Especially regarding media channels, but towards other sectors, brands and wider life. Currently, trust is a key factor.

  • Example: Two-thirds of consumers in the U.S. worry about how their personal data is being used by companies.
  • Lesson: Positioning content on established and trusted channels, such as top tier publications, or those with a small dedicated following, reinforces the validity of your branded content.  

Interests: Particularly towards content types, but also in wider life. Interest might include humor, current affairs, leisure activities, and tech.

  • Example: 16-24-year-olds in the U.S. with an interest in tech are 92% more likely than the average American internet user to also have an interest in adventure/extreme sports.
  • Lesson: Basing the wider interests of your target audience on a hunch is risky. Accurately categorizing them in this way creates scope for expanding placement options, meaning branching into wider publication themes can be done with confidence.

Lifestyle indicators: For example, careers, holidays and goods consumption.

  • Example: 44% of 25-34 year-olds in the U.S. go running at least once a week.
  • Lesson: Knowing the activities and pastimes they engage in day-to-day builds up a detailed customer persona, helping to inform creative and placement to connect with them on a more personal level.

Self-perception: How do they see their own social status, as well as their outlook on the wider world. What status do they aspire to?

  • Example: U.S. consumers living in urban areas are 29% more likely than the average internet user to consider themselves as risk takers.
  • Lesson: Knowing how users perceive themselves, as well as how they want to be perceived guides creatives that both align with their expectations, and help them achieve their social goals. In this case, knowing the differing attitudes of consumers across locations helps refine geo-targeting.

Values: These may include respect, equality, adventure, income, achievements and family.

  • Example: 16-24-year-olds in the UK are 41% more likely than the average UK internet user to state they want to stand out from the crowd.
  • Lesson: In this case, we know that this group value differentiation. Brands, products and ads that align with their values in this way will elicit the best response.

The examples above are the tip of the iceberg.

Audiences, just like people, have a wider set of behaviors, interests and attitudes than could ever be detailed in a blog.

Robust data sources like GlobalWebIndex paint the full picture; providing media buyers with the tools to build up a more granular and personal profile of their audience.

Case study: how consumer insights propelled GroupM’s media buying strategy

GroupM is the world’s largest media investment group in terms of billings, responsible for one in three ads globally.

As experts in advertising negotiation and implementation, the team at GroupM’s Malaysian office sought out insights into consumer needs, interests, behaviors and perceptions to power the day-to-day running of their campaigns.

Choo Jiun Shyan, Senior Executive of Insights at GroupM Malaysia, explains, “Penetration of the website was no longer adequate to support our daily work.”

Choo emphasizes that negotiation skills were no longer enough to ensure success. Instead, an effective media strategy requires a stronger foundation.

GlobalWebIndex’s consumer insights enabled the agency to transition to the next level, allowing them to reach their audience in a much more efficient way.

Read the full case study here.

Case study: how Brilliant Noise put the proof behind its pitches

Brilliant Noise is a marketing and communications partner that transforms businesses through data-led strategy, planning and creative.

The agency works with some of the world’s leading brands including Adidas and Universal Pictures.

“Consumer profiling data is an integral part of our customer planning work”, says Senior Strategist, David Preece, but relying on a variety of different tools lacked the required depth of insight needed to confidently predict ROI for clients.  

Nick Siantonas, Senior Strategist, observes, “We don’t have access to user panels and bespoke primary research when pitching or carrying out in-depth research, so we use GlobalWebIndex to model personas and gather insights.

GlobalWebIndex gives us the quantitative proof behind our work”.

By combining attitudinal responses from questions such as ‘what drives you to share’ with behavioral indicators such as ‘where do you find out about brands’ provided useful validations for clients.

Overall, Brilliant Noise was able to use detailed consumer data to prove the validity and relevance of certain channels to clients, but also to win new business.

Key considerations

The rising number of consumer touchpoints and the increasing demand for relevant, quality content has caused a shift in focus.

Greater importance is now being placed on the marriage between the media, channel and consumer needs.

Because of this, the lines between media planning and buying are blurring, with both parties needing to look beyond the behaviors of their audiences to ensure the campaign’s reach is matched by relevance.

Click to access our Consumer Insights Guide