Digital Marketing

Effective Targeting: New Ways to Find and Reach the Perfect Consumer

Photo Credit: @juyeon18


Last Thursday, I had the privilege of speaking at Ad Tech New York –despite the nor’easter pummeling the city, the attendees bundled up and rallied for a great event. I participated in a session titled, “Effective Targeting: New Ways to Find and Reach the Perfect Consumer.” On the panel with me were Dimitri Maex from OgilvyOne NY, Dan Kersten of Kimberly-Clark, Vijay Sundaram of SocialTwist, and Allie Kline from 33Across. I co-presented with 33Across and shared a case study from one of our clients, illy, about a recent campaign that brought to life the theory of effective targeting to maximize ROI.
Brand Background
illy is a premium Italian coffee and espresso brand based in Trieste, Italy. For those of you who don’t know illy, they have a great story. Founded in 1933 and sold in 140 countries around the world, they are a family-run business with a focus on innovation, art & culture, and a history of social responsibility, all of which developed well before ideas like “fair trade” and “sustainability” became fashionable. Before going into the details of the campaign, it’s important to note a few major factors in play:
ONE. Although illy is an incredible product with a rich and innovative brand heritage, they are in a tricky place in the US market. They occupy a space somewhere in between “mass luxury” brands like Starbucks and Peet’s and boutique micro-roasters like Intelligentsia, Stumptown, Ritual, and Handsome, which are a growing segment in the “top-shelf” coffee world.
Their consumers are primarily concentrated in major urban markets and can be identified as affluent “coffee connoisseurs” with a deep love of culture, art, food, and travel.
TWO. Unlike in Italian and other European markets where branded cafés have played a major role in illy’s growth, distribution in the US has been driven by direct channel sales (online, print, and catalogue) and intermediary channel sales through hotels, restaurants, cafes and specialty retail.
THREE. In 2011, effort was made to broaden brand appeal from that of a luxury brand someone might purchase once a year to an accessible pleasure to be enjoyed every day.
To this end, a new global brand platform (“Live HAPPilly”) was created with the intention of reaching beyond the die-hard coffee connoisseur. The ultimate goal became to connect with a broader, more relaxed base of contemporary “coffee lovers” who appreciate the difference between good and great coffee.
On the digital advertising and media side, we’d been running a healthy paid search program for about four years and had begun to see signs of saturation relative to our ROI target. We had consistently been able to expand our spending over the years, but had begun to dilute the dollars of revenue driven from every dollar we spent. We had also been running a successful display retargeting campaign, but this yielded only a small, incremental opportunity as retargeting is arguably even more “bottom of funnel” than paid search. The brand was experiencing similar results with its print advertising, as well.
We’d raced to the “bottom” of the proverbial funnel and found ourselves at a point of stagnating returns. We needed to deepen the prospecting pool, but throwing millions of dollars at a “brand awareness” campaign was not an option.
Enter stage right… the 33Across Brand Graph!
The 33Across Brand Graph identifies and describes a brand’s most loyal consumers and identifies potential brand loyalists based on their social connections. What’s more exciting is that it isn’t just any connection that makes it into the brand graph –33Across identifies only the strongest connections based on recency, frequency, and reciprocity of communication. In illy’s case, 2.6MM potential new loyalists were identified based on their current 85,000 existing loyalists. Out of the gate, that represents a 32x increase in the size of its prospect base.
The 33Across approach and Brand Graph met one of our primary objectives: to deepen our prospecting pool in a deliberate and informed way.
The model also confirmed what we knew (or thought we knew) about the general behaviors and attributes of the illy loyalist. Among other things, illy loyalists are socially connected influencers who enjoy dining out. These insights anchored the creation of a hard working campaign on the 33Across Network as well as other targeted properties, including Facebook and niche foodie site, Eater.com.
Performance exceeded expectations
From a high-level point of view, the brand campaign delivered strong results against our baseline awareness and engagement metrics, and also managed to have a significant impact on our direct response channel programs. Together, these tactics contributed to the highest total online ROI in the brand’s recent history.
Here are some details:

  1. With 33Across, we ran custom video ads and social share units which pulled in illy’s Twitter feed, promoting their new and inspiring “Live HAPPilly” brand positioning.
    1. The video ads performed very well and significantly exceeded many of the network benchmarks.
    2. Surprisingly, while the Twitter ad saw about ½ the CTR of the video and other flash ad units, it generated an equal amount of revenue.
    3. In the end, 33Across delivered about 85% of the total tracked revenue delivered directly from the brand campaign.
    4. The 33across program helped to cement an important piece of information about the brand: Brand loyalists are a very social bunch, and illy is a very social-friendly brand. People are passionate about this brand. It is visual. It is tasty. And most importantly, it is shareable in nature. The more social we get with our media plans, the more opportunity we have to cultivate new brand loyalists.
  2. Unsurprisingly, Facebook generated very high engagement rates. We used “new at the time” Sponsored Stories to promote the new “Live HAPPilly” message, and acquired a new crop of fans at ¼ of the cost of previous campaigns. As a bonus, we generated sales increases through the power of this social context.
  3. custom branding program on Eater.com delivered upper funnel awareness, enabled us to perform some creative testing, and shared the new “Live HAPPilly” message. It also provided much needed new consumers to our retargeting pool.
  4. While none of the individual campaign elements on their own generated ROI at the same level as our direct sales channel tactics (such as paid search), we found (much to our delight) that these targeted mid/upper funnel tactics produced an overall lift in bottom line performance.
    1. We saw spikes in revenue of 20%-75% in our key markets compared to previous years and normalized for seasonality.
    2. Most importantly, this campaign (which ran in conjunction with our ongoing direct response efforts) had a strong impact on the TOTAL bottom line digital media ROI. Rather than dilute ROI, we produced spikes in ROI (during and after the campaign ended) that had not been achieved in the past. We expanded our prospecting pool, and acquired new customers at similar or even higher rates than ever before.

Key Takeaways

  1. You must increase your funnel size in order to move people through it. It is possible to grow this audience in both size and precision.
    1. As a brand advertiser, you don’t have to have Super Bowl ad budgets to impact your bottom line.
    2. You also do not need to be the most data-sophisticated organization to begin tapping into the targeting power and insights of tools like 33Across.
    3. In order to make a reliable connection between your prospecting media and your lower funnel growth, develop a good attribution model. We know better than to rely on the “last click” or “last impression” to drive our decision-making, but without proof in reporting, it can be difficult to sell this reality to our clients or to justify budgets. If we know the connection exists between the top of the funnel and the bottom, it is our responsibility to actively draw this line.
  2. We need the right input to produce the right output. The truth for all of us is that our target audiences are much more diverse than the definitions we give them in the advertising world. The new reality we must embrace is that with new inputs, including social contexts, come new consumers and a deeper understanding of who and where they are in the real world.
  3. We were leaving potential customers on the table before putting this into practice.
    1. It requires a shift from a “closing” mentality to adopting a learning mentality.

In our business, if you’re always focused on closing, what you are likely doing is “closing” the door to new opportunities.
Erin’s presentation also received a nice summary and mention in a recent article by Luxury Daily.

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