Part 1: Media is becoming more fragmented, but with more options comes more opportunity.

Once upon a time, there were four ways to reach your target audience: on television, with a billboard, in print, or on the radio. Each medium represented a unique way of serving a creative message to a large audience, which is exactly what agencies did.

Since then, 10 channels turned into 300 channels which turned into people streaming their TV on demand. Media is constantly becoming more fragmented as consumers are presented with more ways to watch, listen to, or otherwise digest content.

Today, all of the content we could possibly want can be viewed wherever we are–on the 65-inch screen in our living room or the 5-inch screen in our pocket (or both at the same time).

Social media helps consumers of content become content creators, simultaneously cooking up and snacking on creative throughout the day. We text and drive, Netflix and chill, meet our spouses online and otherwise spend our whole lives using the thousands of media options we have at our disposal.

This new media world has evolved into a “media ecosystem” and it’s a living, breathing thing. And while it’s a lot more complicated than before, we see that with more options comes more opportunity.

Geographic and Demographic Audience Targeting

This type of audience targeting has been around the longest, but still acts as the foundation to any media strategy. Even in the 60’s, you could serve a TV ad to 25- to 55-year-old women living on the west coast by selecting the right networks, dayparts, and local channels.

Today, demographics have become more in-depth and geographics, more specific. Brands like Moviehouse can serve their new “Mommy Mondays Calendar” to moms of 0- to 12-month-olds living within 15 miles of the theater with an average household income of over $150,000. That was a mouthful. See below example:

Schedule and Device Audience Targeting

In addition to knowing who will see your ad, knowing when and where they will see it allows agencies to create a more relevant and compelling experience for their audiences. For example, let’s say we’re serving video to our “mom” audience on HGTV and Facebook.

By synchronizing ad schedules and serving our Facebook ads to mobile devices, we create an environment where moms might stumble across our video in their news feed while the same video is playing on their TV.

Smart brands are using comparable targeting strategies to break through the promotional clutter and surround their audience with more relevant creative messaging. Twitter offers TV targeting natively, making it easy for agencies to serve ads to audiences watching certain networks or specific shows.

Companies like Twitter are constantly developing new tools for advertisers that make it easy to consider an audience’s daily schedule and device.

Check this video introducing Twitter’s TV Sync product:

Interest and Behavior Audience Targeting

This is where things start to get exciting, or terrifying depending on your perspective. In the age where every question courses through a search engine, and every purchase goes on a credit card, it’s getting easier to guess what’s going on inside your audience’s head.

Consider all of the moms that were engaged with our video campaign that eventually made their way to our event page on We can retarget these moms across the internet, tailoring creative based on what they’re buying and searching for.

We can also serve one set of creative to moms worried about the flu, and another set to fashionistas who buy organic products and love to host parties. Essentially, we can make it seem like an ad was written specifically for an individual. Now that’s getting personal.

Here’s a video about Facebook’s retargeting tool called “Custom Audiences.”

Anybody can use these targeting tools to improve campaign performance. New programmatic platforms are making it easy for brands, agencies, or your local barber to schedule a campaign and target it to a specific audience within a specific geographic zone on a specific device searching for specific things. Phew.

Successful campaigns are the ones that consider the bigger picture–the ones that understand the essential partnership between creative and placement, and the ones that listen to their target audience and act accordingly. In Adweek’s Audience Targeting Guide, companies showcase a few of their latest tools. We’ll talk more about successful audience targeting campaigns next month with Part 2: Curated Creative and Perfect Placement. 

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