Linking Audiences In Display And Social Campaigns

Previously we have examined how to use the customer journey to break down website performance and to prioritise development work, here we look at leveraging audiences within each channel, helping to create value from your display and social investments.

DSC 6947-2-e1552328249858-o4q6qk2rk1g5eqjxuxuzeft2l01anq2sr27mw5e2moby Bethan Rainford 24 June, 2020

Previously we have examined how to use the customer journey to break down website performance and to prioritise development work. However, the concept of the Customer Journey is also very useful for creating executions in digital media. Two of the great benefits that channels like Facebook and AdWords offer is the range of ad types available and the range of audience types you can distribute to. However, this amount of freedom of choice can quickly lead to wasted budget without any useful learning. Indeed, this is why a lot of companies initially dismiss display and social advertising as non profitable - they try a bunch of different combinations of media types and audience without hitting on a combination that works. For this reason, it’s useful to have a structure around which you can build campaigns, creative and messaging. If you haven’t already, it’s worth reading the piece on attribution in social media - these two together are useful in creating value from your display and social investments.

The Customer Journey and offsite funnel

The simplest view of the Customer Journey looks like this:

Customer Journey

In the third row I’ve included examples of media types that typically fit in with the steps of the customer journey. Very briefly (jump ahead if you’re familiar with the Customer Journey), each step represents a change in customer action. A customer with no awareness of a brand cannot consider a purchase, a customer that isn’t considering buying from a brand won’t try to find a website, a customer who can’t find a website won’t interact with it, and so on. Each of these parts of the off site journey (the first three steps) form a funnel. Each step represents a different customer mindset - “I want to buy a new guitar, what brands do I know that sell shirts”, or “I have a mental list of places I can buy a guitar, which of them is presenting me with a link to their website when I search”.

This is a simplified view, of course, but it does show the importance of availability - mental availability, visibility in search and availability of products on the website. 

This view of customer interaction is useful for your marketing strategy. They are relatively straightforward to measure - you can reach audiences easily and without too much cost using Google Surveys

The second row is a mention of the brand positioning and messaging. This generally comes from your marketing strategy work and in our case we can think about it in terms of what sort of messaging we might apply at each stage of the customer journey as customers move down the purchase funnel.

The Display and Social Media Funnel

Looking at the two main digital marketing platforms, Facebook and AdWords, there are four things that we need to make decisions on: ad type, creative (including messaging), audience and budget. Using the Customer Journey we can create a table for our media strategy so that execution matches your intended outcome. A table would look something like this:

 Using the Customer Journey we can create a table for our media strategy

You will notice that the audiences for awareness and consideration are similar, and the two actions really only differ by creative and messaging. This is not a bad thing - messaging and creative can often improve both metrics. This doesn’t mean you should try to mix messages; this will often be less productive as customers find it harder to retain multiple pieces of information. However, it does make sense that an ad targeting consideration will reinforce awareness by mentioning the brand name, and an awareness brand ad that creates positive brand associations will boost consideration. For this reason, you don’t need to worry too much about distinguishing between these two audiences (something that’s relatively difficult to do anyway), but you may well wish to use remarketing audiences / existing customer lists to exclude customers further down the funnel. It won’t be harmful in any way for them to see these ads, but if your budget is limited you may want to limit media exposure to those who need it most.

In terms of budget, this again will be driven by your measurements of the customer journey and your marketing strategy, but generally a 50:50 - 60:40 split of upper funnel : lower funnel campaigns creates a good balance in terms of creating a customer pipeline and then activating these as sales. This makes sense when you consider that each stage has a drop out from one to the next, and although upper funnel impressions tend to be less expensive than search clicks, you need more of them to achieve your business goals.

Linking Interactions and Audiences

All of the above is fairly basic and you will doubtless have seen it before. However, where it  really becomes useful for display and social advertising is by leveraging audiences within each channel.

Both Facebook and AdWords allow you to create audiences based on interactions and serve further ads to them. The most common example of this is remarketing to an audience of website visitors, something that Google and Facebook have always pushed quite hard as an entry to display advertising, presumably as it provides the most easily measurable and identifiable revenue (if you are just running this type of remarketing by itself, it’s well worth doing an uplift test on it to see the true incremental value).

You can do this with audiences of people as they interact with your advertising. For example, testing may have shown you that people need to have been exposed to a Facebook video 3+ times in order to create brand awareness - you can then create an audience out of this and show them more commercial focussed or product lead advertising. Because the audience is already primed (your brand and the positive associations you’ve created are front of mind), these lower funnel ads should be more efficient and more incremental.

This same technique can be used to build awareness and consideration by use of repetition with cheaper ads types. For example, a 30s Tru View YouTube ad can be relatively expensive (but very effective). Because of the cost you may well want to limit the frequency and thus maximise the reach of this ad type. By creating an audience of people who have been served your ad (or seen it all or part way through), you can then serve them more economic (and shorter) bumper or static display ads, or even use YouTube’s new Shopping integration. These ads tend to be less eye catching and memorable, but as a method to create repetition of an original message at a lower cost, this can be very effective.

Using this audience priming makes the whole process more efficient and creates a funnel of customers when they are most likely to buy, rather than waiting and trying to pick them off in search engines. You can still do this, of course, but by supplementing this search strategy with a primed audience you can use remarketing lists for search ads (RLSA) 

Measuring success of full funnel campaigns

Now that you are combining different interactions in one campaign, it makes sense to measure the incremental uplift of the investment as a whole. This makes it much easier - you can combine all of the campaigns and use the hold back technique detailed in the social media attribution piece mentioned before. As usual, you can track individual ad metrics like CPM, interaction rate, reach and so forth for use in campaign optimisation, giving you a nice balance of immediate data with which to make course corrections and longer term commercial insight with which to report back to the wider business and to make strategic decisions.

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Bethan Rainford
Bethan Rainford is the Paid Media Team Lead at Vervaunt and runs the day-to-day operations for the paid media side of the business. Bethan has spoken at a host of eCommerce events and has been working in paid media for over 5 years, previously managing accounts for the likes of BMW, Nintendo and MUJI.