People-based advertising is the use of first-party data to identify known individuals within an advertising ecosystem.

The data is selectively shared with publishers, reaching real people where they congregate online.

So, which solutions are brands using to do this and to what end?

Econsultancy has released the North American edition of its People-Based Advertising report, in partnership with Signal.

The report evaluates the impact and future of addressable media, including a survey of 350 brand marketers and media buyers in North America.

Let's take a look.

The traditional ad model is changing

The majority (just) of advertisers are neutral or positive about the current display advertising model.

However, although the marketers of North America have a much rosier outlook than those of Australia, the chart below shows that something has to change.

Only 12% of respondents disagree that the display ad model is broken (and only 1% strongly disagree).

Buying ads may be more efficient than ever, thanks to programmatic technology, but consumers are turning off in droves.

Turning off quite literally, by using ad blocking software - currently around 10% of North American internet users.

In this survey 37% agree and 13% strongly agree that ad blocking will make the current model for display obsolete. This surely paves the way for fewer ads of greater impact - cue people-based advertising.

Indeed 66% of respondents are increasing spend on people-based advertising.

ad model broken? 

How are clients using people-based advertising?

As opposed to the traditional 'spray and pray' display ad model, people-based advertising allows brands to encourage more direct actions from an ad.

That's because knowledge of who is viewing the ad (and that person's unique demographics and previous behaviours) allows for specific and accurate messaging.

This can be retargeting, or more sophisticated use of second-party data to target customers who may have viewed competitor sites and are in the market to research/buy.

The chart below shows that branding (33%) and loyalty/retention (31%) are the two main ways that clients are using people-based advertising.

Furthermore, upsell/cross-sell was the strategy of 14% of respondents, as was new customer acquisition.

brands using people based ads

Facebook an attractive environment for advertisers

When respondents were asked about their usage of certain people-based advertising solutions, Facebook came to the fore (69% had used Custom Audiences) above Google (63% had tried Customer Match).

So-called 'walled gardens' such as social networks are potentially seen as safer environments for brands to play in. This is because the risks of fraud and brand-safety are mitigated.

Of course, they have their downsides, particularly the control brands must cede to the platform.

media targeting

So, what's holding up programmatic?

Programmatic is growing quickly (see the IAB stats - 60% of UK display ad spend in 2015) but to some extent that growth is limited by brands and their datasets.

Disparate data sets that weren't originally conceived of for this purpose are difficult to wrangle into useable shape.

Multiple data warehouses, buying platforms and publisher deals can also lead to duplication and data redundancy.

However, it's clear the ad model is changing (and has to). It's now up to brands to find creative ways to target known customers.

For more on people-based advertising, including data governance, ROI, fraud and mobile, download the North American edition of our People-Based Advertising Report, in partnership with Signal.

Ben Davis

Published 15 April, 2016 by Ben Davis @ Econsultancy

Ben Davis is Deputy Editor at Econsultancy. He lives in Manchester, England. You can contact him at ben.davis@econsultancy.com, follow at @herrhuld or connect via LinkedIn.

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