By John Aronson, Vice President, Media Solutions, Circana

Marketers understand how important it is to get the audiences for their brand and products right. That’s why they spend so much time creating personas, perfecting their creative messaging, and segmenting the market. But it’s during the next step after segmentation — the details of media audience creation and selection — where marketers often struggle to realize optimal return on ad spend (ROAS) and campaign effectiveness.

Faced with this complexity, many marketers opt to create audiences by just using the native platform targeting options available on major social media platforms. These are great tools, and it’s an easy approach — you can just put your ad in and launch it just a few clicks later. But because this option remains grounded in the traditional targeting methods of demographic, contextual, and behavioral targeting, it can result in suboptimal accuracy and precision.

Demographic targeting can cast such a wide net that it amounts to a “spray and pray” approach. Contextual targeting looks at things like website content, keywords, location, and device type to try to deliver relevant, timely ads. This approach precisely gets you to people who follow websites and blogs on topics relevant to your products but is not accurate enough in identifying the prospects most likely to buy. The same can be true of behavioral targeting — just because someone likes dog photos on social media, for instance, doesn’t mean they have a dog and are a good target for pet products.

Traditional targeting often results in a large percentage of ad dollars being wasted on households that are unlikely to convert. And providers of this data are not always transparent about their data collection methodology, including how recent the data collected is, or the amount of modeling required to create the data.

Other data sources include the various forms of “party” data. First-party data, or information that brands collect and store themselves, is great but also often doesn’t offer the scale or reach that brands need when they want to reach new prospects or roll out large campaigns.

Third-party data, meanwhile, can be attained by using things like cookies or purchasing lists of customers who have not opted in to receive brand communication. But new and forthcoming privacy laws will make this data so restricted that it should not be viewed as a sensible or a future-proof linchpin of effective targeting.

That leaves second-party data, like the data brands can receive from a trusted source. Circana ProScores Audiences, for example, are built using the industry’s largest collection of loyalty card data, which includes loyalty cards across over 126 million U.S. homes representing 96% of U.S. households, including four times the coverage of any other provider, including exclusive access Kroger and Walgreens loyalty card data.

Circana’s data is based on actual purchasing, includes recent purchases, and is also longitudinal. So you know that someone didn’t buy baby formula once to help a friend. You see that a household has been buying baby formula and diapers and baby toys repeatedly, and recently, so you can rely on the accuracy of the household being modeled as a baby household.

Not surprisingly, longitudinal household-level purchase data provides a more complete, more accurate view of your consumer’s actual purchase behaviors than other methods. And this results in up to six times the ROI of other methods.

Ultimately, consumers are what they buy — not how old they are, which sites they browse, or which posts they like. For this reason, it’s essential to make scalable, consented purchase data the foundation of your audience-targeting efforts. Using this approach, you can also monitor your campaign results, almost in real time for many channels. With this capability, you can make in-campaign optimizations and also measure your long-term results to continually improve your media effectiveness over time.

Contact your account representative to learn more today about how Circana can improve your audience targeting and help make every media dollar go farther.