A report from comScore showed that consumers are spending more time on their smartphones, tablets and connected TVs than ever before, and it’s not necessarily eating into the time spent on their desktops. The cross-platform consumer is a reality, and finding and targeting those consumers with relevant ads is the new endgame for digital marketers.
However, there is confusion among digital marketers on where and how to find those consumers – specifically when it comes to audience extension and amplification. From my experience, these approaches are thrown around and used interchangeably, and it is important that the industry knows the difference between the two and the benefit to advertisers.
Audience extension is all about trying to find new people to target. If you’re building an audience segment and you have identifiers of people that you know are within a specific group, audience extension is about finding similar people to the ones you already know. For example, an advertiser starts with a target audience, such as people who have registered for a test drive on an auto website. To increase the size of this core audience, one would use profiling data to find similar people in terms of age, demo and online behaviors.
Advertisers use audience extension to reach greater numbers of people. To increase audiences even further in the hopes of better conversion rates, advertisers often broaden the matching criteria, which results in an even larger pool of people. So, for advertisers who have data on middle-aged men interested in BMWs, you extend that audience by modeling against similar cross-device and online behavioral attributes of your core audience.
Audience amplification is about providing personalized, targeted advertising to the people you already know. With audience amplification, you’re not making the audience bigger, you’re just increasing the chances of seeing your audience. Because you are targeting the people you already know, there is less waste. And because you know that a person is interested in BMWs, you want to target this person as soon and often as possible.
There are three ways to amplify and market to audiences from one device to another. One is intradevice audience amplification, where the consumer is followed from one application to another on a single device. The second is cross-device, which follows the consumer across the multiple connected devices they use within the course of a day. Finally, householding allows for an advertiser to serve dynamic creative ads to all the devices within a household, which allows also for more precise family-based targeting.
For most advertisers, the best solution is to use a combination of audience extension and audience amplification. If you start with an audience and then grow it through audience extension, you can still also amplify that same audience. The hybrid approach between audience extension and amplification most likely gives advertisers the biggest reach as well as the most custom experience for consumers.