This is part one of a three-part series in which I explain my observations on the Death of demographic targeting. Part one is just an overview, and in part two and three I delve deeper into the crux of the subject matter.
What’s the currency?
Since the demise of All Media Products Survey (AMPS), the media, marketing, advertising and research industry has been left without a single widely acceptable source of consumer research data. It’s almost mid-year 2018 and all media types have released their own research currencies. The research is commissioned by the associations and or councils which represent media owners that operate within that media type.
For digital media, the Interactive Advertising Bureau South Africa (IAB SA) represents the media type and Effective Measure (recently rebranded as Narratiive) is the currency data; radio and television are represented by the Broadcast Research Council of South Africa (BRC) which commissions the Radio Audience Measurement survey (RAM) and the Television Audience Measurement Survey (TAMs) data. Print is represented by the Publisher Research Council (PRC) which commissions the Publisher Audience Measurement Survey (PAMS) and out of home is represented by the Out of Home Measurement Council (OMC) which commissions the Roadside Outdoor Audience Data. Media agencies are represented by the Advertising Media Forum (AMF) which has permission to use the data to develop media strategies on behalf of their clients who are primarily marketers.
This might seem fantastic but this multi plug-in research database brings challenges to media planning and strategy development. For instance, the sample size, research methodology, research company and questionnaire framing is not the same or equal across all media types or research currencies.
Some might argue the Establishment Survey (ES) covers all this, but the ES at present isn’t comparable to AMPS. The downside of the ES, in my opinion, is that it just plain lacks the substance of AMPS. The substance refers to the channel and site analysis; in other words, the medium and media brand analysis. The Establishment Survey is predominately useful in analysing the total population’s general demographics.
In February 2017, South African Advertising Research Fund (SAARF) which commissioned AMPS research, confirmed that it would conduct new research to replace AMPS. This research project is a collaborative effort by the Marketing Association of South Africa MA(SA), the Advertising Media Forum (AMF), and the Association for Communication and Advertising (ACA).
So what’s the currency? We wait…
Life after LSMs
The industry and its external stakeholders should by now understand that LSMs have left us. With the sad death of LSMs came with the extremely painful death of AMPS.
Now, in May 2018, the industry should understand that the wave of change is not coming, it’s here. Change is here and our language should be up to date. The updated language in traditional media terms is Socio Economic Measurement (SEM). I recently overheard a senior marketer of a JSE Top 40 company refer to their target audience as an LSM 4-7 on national TV and I was shocked, to say the least.
Because not everyone knows that LSMs are past tense, I will forgive the senior marketer; but it’s been over a year since SEMs were released and LSMs have been outdated for the past five years now.
SEMs are more in line with the Gini Coefficient of the country and reduces the so called missing middle, meaning the inflated middle class ballooned by household assets which were accumulated through debt, they are not measured within the SEMs. They seem to have vanished. In retrospect it seems like LSMs made us live a lie, basing our assumptions on false and misleading data.
According to Kantar TNS, SEMs speak to how South Africans live and not what they have. This advocates SEM’s to being the statistical and technical solution for understanding the South African consumer landscape. The SEM household continuum was developed by Neil Higgs and his team at Kantar TNS is not dependent solely on durables or household assets.
SEMs can be found within the ES, RAM, TAMs and PAMs research currencies which are commissioned by the BRC and PRC.
The ES Survey is conducted for the industry and is funded by the Publisher Research Council (PRC) and the Broadcast Research Council (BRC).
So in essence, there is life after LSMs
The Death of Demographic targeting
Before Google, programmatic media buying and big data, defining an audience to communicate to was fairly based on demographics. Offline media strategies or above the line media strategies are still building media plans based on demographic targeting and in many instances they still use LSMs.
The new age thinking and provocative conversion-driven strategic adoption of media strategy led by digital is changing the fundamental concept of media strategy and planning.
When it comes to digital media strategy, demographics are not a priority as the strategy KPI is measured by the number of conversions or leads the campaign achieved, not based on how low the CPP was. These conversions can be defined in any way based on the campaign objectives.
For instance, a brand can be running a campaign that is meant to drive email subscriptions for Father’s Day gifting ideas for the week leading to Father’s Day. The main objective there is, ‘email subscriptions’ and that is the digital media KPI, the target for such a campaign is anyone who is interested and shows intent in purchasing something for a father on Father’s Day.
This tech led conversion driven strategy, is based on targeting users by interest, purchase intent and category associations. The tech led conversion driven strategy uses data mining algorithms that analyse a consumer in more depth.
The death of demographic targeting can be attributed to the rise in Data Management Platforms (DMPs) and big data. Demographics still have a purpose in defining a segment or a market, even though through big data these segments can be determined in accordance by using first and third party data association techniques.
In part two I will delve a bit deeper as I reason the death of demographic targeting. Stay tuned.
Nkateko Mongwe is the Digital Data Analyst at one of the biggest media buying and investment companies in sub-Saharan Africa. His experience is in telecoms, FMCG etc and his greatest passion is to analyse digital media campaigns and assist in refining digital strategy that is designed to meet clients’ business objectives.