Understanding intent: The next wave of marketing

Advertising used to be about roughly matching a brand’s audience with a relevant category but marketers are starting to wise up to the fact that their audience is less clearly defined than initially perceived. Take travel as an example. The assumption that all millennials in Essex book summer holidays in Marbella is speculative. To go as far as to say everyone reading contextually relevant websites promoting Marbella’s nightlife are millennials from Essex is ludicrous.

In digital marketing, behaviour is trackable which provides real value for an advertiser. However, if you are measuring your digital campaign success based on a click metric, then marketers are missing the point.

Assumptive audience targeting has obscured media buying for too long. It’s made way for waste and inefficiency but this year, intent marketing has risen to prominence. Unlike broad contextual buying, it offers advertisers the ability to target individual consumers at different moments in a purchase journey. One headline from Google went so far as to state “consumer intent is more powerful today than demographics”.

What lies ahead for this smarter wave of marketing going into 2017?

Start looking beyond audience segments

Goodbye, ‘male 18-to-34’. Buyers and brands are coming to recognise that their consumers aren’t big, homogenous population segments defined by age or gender. Consumers are individuals, with many different combinations of behaviours, influences and motivations. Understanding the multifarious audience will become widespread.

Take the example of someone searching for nappies online. Are they a new mum, a dad-to-be, or the parent of a toddler? Nappies, like audiences, don’t come in one size – the buyer’s intent changes over time. Understanding of the importance of granular audience contexts will become increasingly inescapable.

Brand advertisers will get on board

So far, intent marketing has whetted the appetites of marketers buying in a direct-response fashion. That’s because it is easy to measure the efficiency gains it provides.

2017 will represent the turning point when big brand advertisers recognise that intent is not simply about momentary buying impulse. Intent doesn’t happen at the bottom of the funnel. Consumer moments can be captured along the entire product journey. Good intent marketing provides the mechanism to ensure a message reaches the widest number of individuals for whom it will most likely resonate.

Quest to measure intent kicks off

Consumers’ individual contexts and motivations are infinite. How do you measure that and how do you price it? Expect debate to begin in 2017. As brands adopt intent marketing as the de facto standard for efficient consumer conversations, the discussions surrounding measurement and attribution will ignite.

Intent marketing identifies many combinations of factors that suggest a message will resonate, and for each of those factors, the desire to both understand and correctly attribute the influences will increase.

Brands are used to measuring with established metrics. Change may pose another challenge. And by what barometers do we indicate intent anyway? No-one has all the answers just yet – but expect the sector to work towards finding a solution soon.

To summarise, 2017 is shaping up to be a pivotal year for intent marketing, when it reaches a far broader base of media buyers and sellers. Not all inventory is equal. Our behaviours are driven by content and context. Intent marketing may well help publishers trying to get greater yields. And with brands and publishers on side, the adoption of intent marketing will be swift.

Paul Wright, CEO, iotec

Tel: 020 3770 7606

Email: hello@iotecglobal.com

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Twitter: @iotecglobal