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Mars’ future ads could target ‘windows of impulsivity’

Mars is experimenting with alternative ways of ad targeting that could mean future ads for its brands appear to consumers when they are most likely to want a chocolate bar.

Identifying when people are most likely to have impulse moments is a sticking point for those FMCG marketers pushing for more bang for their marketing buck. At Mars, the need for harder working media is seeing it employ alternative tactics that eschew the traditional demographic-driven approach to ad targeting.

“Not only are we testing programmatic buying, contextually relevant creative and incentives through our Mars brand, we’re also doing experimental targeting with different audiences,” said Dan Burdett, global brand director for Snickers. Speaking at this year’s Ad: Tech London conference, the marketer said the shift aims to use peoples’ moods to create a new window of opportunity for its ads.

Mars is organising audiences around how and when people feel impulsive so that it can create relevant content that’s popped into that “moment of impulsivity”. Exploiting that moment is what Burdett said would make Mars more relevant to people and consequently increase the likelihood of its branded content being shared. “More importantly, people are more likely to go out and buy your product which is obviously a key metric for us,” added Burdett.

Sharp targeting is impotent without the content to engage people, which is where user-generated content (UGC) comes in. Currently, Mars “pokes and prods” UGC, according to Burdett. The brand “doesn’t really embrace it,” he continued but it has been working with YouTube vloggers as well as on Twitch – the gaming platform in the US where thousands of gamers live-broadcast videos of themselves playing.

“We’re trying to pick up on very topical and newsworthy events,” he added. “UGC is something we’ve not really embraced at Mars just yet. We’re still trying to figure out how we develop the non-advertising generated content that comes from third parties and our agencies.”

Despite the clamour for better content, Burdett isn’t sure of creating an in-house dedicated unit is the right approach. While the benefits of speedier approvals via in-house teams are clear, he feels it’s more about a mindset that flexes in time with how consumers are feeling.

It’s emblematic of a more progressive approach to marketing from the chocolate maker, with Burdett admitting it has catching up to do in the digital race. Being cautious is the reason for its staggered investments in areas like social and programamtic although the business is working far closer with the likes of Facebook and Google than it is ever has done.

However, these relationships are tempered somewhat by those measurement concerns the food maker shares with the likes of Unilever and Sir Martin Sorrell. In a previous interview with The Drum, Burdett said issues of ad effectiveness were in part responsible for its decision to conduct a media audit with Mediacom. Value, viewability and validation were among the issues investigated alongside using ‘impact to share’ as an alternative metric.

“The thing about impact to share is that if we’re buying [inventory on] YouTube then you can assume that view is the same value to us as a view on television but then what’s the impact of that view when it’s shared by someone else,” said Burdett.

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Seb Joseph

Hi, I'm the news editor at The Drum. Give me a shout if you have any questions about our news coverage or would like to pitch in a story.

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