When considering where to advertise, marketers frequently – and rightfully – consider how targeted / relevant the audience is. However, marketers often fail to consider the commercial intent (or “intent to purchase“) of the target audience within that channel. Because of this, you end up with a lot of advertising campaigns that are ineffective, deliver a poor or negative ROI, and are often not tied to results.
A subjective, qualitative measure of commercial intent (which is usually all that is required) can be easily determined by considering the likelihood that a viewer will be considering a purchase at the time of viewing the ad. For instance, someone who has just searched for a product is far more likely to intend to make a purchase than is the average person reading an article on a news website, even if it is a highly relevant, sector-specific one.
We see this mis-targeting most frequently in demand generation campaigns, particularly “awareness” campaigns. Awareness campaigns seek to target as much of the target market as possible in order to, for all effective purposes, tell them your product or service exists. These campaigns are highly ineffective because they neglect the commercial intent of the target audience. (Side note: They also tend to be uncompelling, unoriginal, and unmemorable.) The implied message is: “We have this product / service. Please go buy it.” However, the channels used for awareness campaigns, which are typically print and / or digital display ads through relevant publishers, have a low commercial intent. People who are not in the market for your product / service will forget about your advertisement long before any future recognition of needs develops.
These described channels, which are highly targeted but have low commercial intent, are far better suited for brand-building campaigns. For audiences who may have a need in the future, you want to make a positive, lasting impression such that your brand will be viewed favorably when a need does arise for the customer, therefore making the customer more receptive to your messages and more likely to favor your solutions. (Focusing on creating experiences is one such way to do this.) In other words, with channels having low commercial intent, you need to play the “long game.”
Conversely, for channels with high commercial intent, you want to play the short game. If a customers are imminently considering a purchase, they are actively filtering information for relevance in search of information to guide them through their buying journey. Campaigns designed to build brand value are likely to be filtered out and, even if they are not, may not have time to make enough of a collective impression on the customers to influence their purchasing decisions (the latter point is more true for products with a short sales cycle than those with long ones). For those customers, you want to present a message about their need and / or your solution in order to demonstrate relevance to their buying journey.
The next time you’re developing an advertising campaign, in addition to the relevance of the audience consider commercial intent. Remember the following:
• Channels where the audience has a high intent to purchase are good for demand-generation campaigns.
• Channels where the audience has a low intent to purchase are good for brand-building campaigns.
You’ll end up with more effective campaigns.