Should Marketing Campaigns Target Households or Individuals?

The household is often the central focus of ad targeting efforts for companies selling items shared by family members or products and services centered around life events. But as one-to-one audience targeting becomes more common, marketers find themselves with that household data in one bucket, and individual device data in another.

Thus, many are now working on combining individual- and household-level targeting practices to better realize core marketing objectives, such as optimizing reach and frequency, as explained in eMarketer’s report out this week, “Ad Targeting 2018: Households, Individuals or Both? Why a Blended Approach Is Often the Answer.”

Ad targeting, and specifically more advanced forms such as cross-device targeting, is top of mind for marketers. The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) and Winterberry Group found the greatest portion of US senior marketing professionals surveyed between December 2017 and January 2018 cited cross-device audience recognition as the marketing topic that will command most of their attention this year.

Marketers are turning to identity management firms and data onboarders to either identify or combine the necessary data sets for ad targeting. A marketer might take known customer information such as phone numbers and household addresses and look to match these to email addresses to power a more individual-level ad targeting approach. But the reverse is also true: A marketer may look to take individual-level identifiers and match them to households, so as to capitalize on direct mail or other household-level targeting initiatives.

For the majority of marketers, however, a blend of both is increasingly required to tie together the holistic customer view—across both addressable and nonaddressable media.

Chobani is one such firm continually looking to balance individual- and household-level targeting throughout their campaign efforts. The marketing team looks at basic demographic overlays, such as a mother living in suburban Chicago. From there, Chobani may also use a variety of first-, second- or third-party data sources to further develop and segment audiences. Once those segments are identified, Chobani weighs the feasibility of targeting those audiences at the individual- vs. household-level against the capabilities of the desired targeting channels.

“We’re only limited by the technology limitations in the space,” Eddie Revis, senior director of marketing communications for the yogurt giant. “The individuals we want live in a household. But if that household is filled with dad, who doesn’t eat dairy, and two young kids that we will never market to, then we only want to speak to the mom. So we’ll go to an individual level with that household. So even if you’re looking at a household, you still want to look at the individual makeup of that household.”