Why companies are worried about targeting audiences
The last ten years have seen an explosion in the use of data. What was once the preserve of academic institutions, laboratories and bookmakers is now everywhere. You can even analyse and buy shares in cows! What next penguins? Therefore, it is no surprise data is sparking many discussions from boardrooms to political institutions. However, for every good news story, there is controversy. Start-ups are building platforms that understand us better than our mothers and gain plaudits for targeting audiences effectively and revolutionising the online digital ecosystem. Consequently, targeting audiences using psychographic profiles has been made easier. However, such technologies have also generated scandals, from the alleged hijacking of election campaigns to growing mistrust of marketing with social media. Therefore, companies need to ask themselves how they should be using data when targeting audiences?
Targeting audiences in the 2020s makes marketing segmentation in 2012 look prehistoric
2012 was only ten years ago. However, it can feel like an innocent time. The type of period grandma fondly recalls. Doors remained unlocked, people trusted politicians, and data was the language of nerds. At the time, it appeared sci-fi that President Obama had hired a data company to run 500 A/B tests to fuel his campaign’s fundraising strategy and target his audience.
Fast forward six years, sci-fi became mainstream as the Cambridge Analytica scandal hit the press after the election of President Trump. Cambridge Analytica allegedly harvested the personal data of millions of Facebook users without their consent. Consequently, they were able to build strategic digital marketing campaigns and influence the outcome of controversial elections from Trump to Brexit by targeting audiences.
The type of data Cambridge Analytica used to micro-target their audience was especially interesting. The company boasted they had collected 5000 data points on every US voter and applied “psychographic” analytics to its dataset. They collected the data through a 3rd party Facebook personality test app. In simple English, they used data from an app that identified people’s cognitive mindset and used it to build strategic digital marketing campaigns that influenced people’s emotions. They built psychographic profiles so they could influence individuals voting decisions. You know things are bad when even Amnesty International decide to report on it.
The way forward: Targeting audiences using psychographic profiles
As a result, we must raise questions of ethics and scope. Should legitimate organisations avoid using data when targeting audiences? Nope, although buying shares in cows is debatable. As a digital marketing agency, we believe every failure delivers an opportunity to learn. We are on a mission to help ethical health organisations become more visible. We want to help them overcome the growing mistrust across the digital ecosystem. It is not acceptable to take data without people’s knowledge to build psychographic profiles. Nor is it okay to manipulate people with false information when targeting audiences to fit an agenda. However, we must use data to ensure ethical and proven health advice is visible. If this does not happen, we run the risk that another Cambridge Analytica scandal goes unseen and promotes advice that risks the health of millions.
Using data analytics when targeting audiences is more important than ever
As we can see from the graphs below, Google data shows the search terms “data analytics” and “search engine optimisation” have continued to rise rapidly over the last few years. Data is going nowhere. Unless ethical health organisations take charge, we face a possible future of increased misinformation. Using data and targeting audiences is the most effective and efficient way to do strategic digital marketing. The data we provide enables our clients to make targeted and tailored interventions. In return, the data insights can help them to grow. It helps our clients reach their target audience more effectively and identify marketing trends across their online digital ecosystem. We advocate looking at the digital ecosystem holistically. Therefore, our data insights cover the web, cloud, third-party sites and social media platforms. As a result, targeting is more effective as one platform can impact another.
In addition, we believe it is critical for ethical organisations to understand their customer’s behaviour and psychology and not just their demographics. As we previously wrote, this does not mean harvesting Facebook data like Cambridge Analytica. Instead, it involves undertaking ethical practices that start with building data-driven psychographic profiles. Targeting audiences through psychographic profiles is a powerful tool. Consequently, you can make more targeted marketing interventions. As a digital marketing consultancy, we use those psychographic profiles to analyse all our client’s data through the lens of cognitive science and drive deeper insights.
Use an ethical marketing partner when targeting audiences through psychographic profiles
The message is clear, don’t fear data. Embrace it. Targeting audiences is critical. Just make sure you use a digital marketing agency that share’s your mission and understands the ethics of driving a happier, healthier and more passionate world. I’m now off to investigate data in Penguins – does anyone know where I can invest in them?
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