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Vertical Targeting 2.0: How to Up Your Programmatic Game

Previously in our Vertical Targeting Series, we discussed the basics of applying targeting to various verticals or industries, and provided some steps to get you started. Since then, we’ve identified tangible campaign strategies in some of the largest verticals, including auto, finance, healthcare, higher education, retail and travel. Now it’s time to dig a little deeper!

Here are some ways you can up your vertical targeting game, to level up your digital marketing strategy.

Psychographics

The various members of your target audience likely have a lot in common. Beyond demographics such as age, gender and income, there are actually psychographic similarities that you can lean on to capture the right audience. Their buying habits are a big one. Buyers often fall into specific categories based on how they shop. They might be luxury shoppers or thrift shoppers, and this can impact how you speak to them—determining how they shop will dictate the language you use to communicate with them.

Let’s consider that same example of luxury shoppers and thrift shoppers. For the luxury shopper, using words such as “exclusive” or “limited-time” are likely ways to entice them.

On the other hand, thrift shoppers are more inclined to be drawn to words such as “sale” or “consignment.”

Generational Groups

Beyond likes and interests, consider generational profiles to segment your audience. Demographic cohorts tend to share commonalities in buying habits and behaviours.

Based on the natural affinities and similarities between generations, you can draw certain conclusions for how they may behave—and how to phrase the messaging in your advertising. If you can discover that certain generations use specific devices, or value certain lifestyles, you can drive your digital strategy accordingly. Although some of their shopping habits may differ slightly depending on the product or service they are looking into, some basic characteristics remain true for each.

Millennials

These individuals were born between 1981 to 1996 and are extremely tech-savvy. As they become more established in their jobs, they start to earn more. They’re establishing their careers, paying off student loans, getting married and having families. They value convenience and affordability and will look for these characteristics when looking for new products and services. They use technology for efficiency and savings, often preferring online shopping and rely heavily on online reviews. The majority like shoppable content, including clickable images and videos and in many cases will make purchases directly from an ad. In terms of devices used, 92% own and actively use smartphones and they spend 3.5 hours per day watching TV online through a connected device.

Gen X

Generation Xers (Gen X) were born 1965 to 1980, are at the height of their careers and are often big spenders for all categories, especially retail, grocery and entertainment. They are quite open to technology and very active on social platforms. Unlike millennials, who will often jump between brands based on their immediate needs, Gen Xers are more brand loyal. Their device behaviour is similar to millennials, in that 90% of those who own smartphones use them for shopping activity. However, unlike millennials, they only spend an average of 4 hours with streamed TV per week.

Baby Boomers

The largest, and most affluent audience, baby boomers, born 1946 to 1964 make up over 74 million people in the U.S.. As this generation is approaching retirement, they have money to spend and want to spend it well and wisely. These are the traditional TV viewers that value premium brands and stores. They have a tendency to spend more rather than save, and are spending more on quality of life improvements, such as renovations and home improvement over any other demographic cohort. Unlike the other generations, only 75% of boomers with smartphones use them for shopping and only 54% watch videos online.

Based on each of these profiles, you can identify the devices you will find them on, as well as the types of messaging that will appeal to them. Millennials are most likely found on mobile and connected TV (CTV) devices, engaging with shoppable content along the way. Alternatively, you will increase your ability to capture the attention of baby boomers using display ads on desktop to reinforce brand awareness and leveraging messaging that speaks to the quality of the product or service.

Determining new ways to segment your audience will have a direct correlation on how you build your campaigns and what types of creatives you will use. If you can identify your target audience’s specific habits and preferences, you can build creatives that speak to them. Not only that, but you can ensure you are including creative formats that complement the devices being used. If your audience are mobile users, your ads should be designed with mobile in mind. Likewise, if your audience is often found on connected TV devices, you want to ensure you are including CTV in your media plans and building creatives that provide an optimal experience when viewed on CTV.

Align Your Creatives

We’ve covered new ways of segmenting your audience and now know that the creatives should cater to these psychographics and generational nuances. Time to put it into practice. Here are 2 examples of what an ad may look like for a millennial on mobile and a baby boomer on mobile.

Millennial Ad

Baby Boomer Ad

Notice that the millennial’s ad speaks to the product’s affordability, whereas the baby boomer’s ad speaks to the longevity and reliability. As we know these are characteristics that each generation looks for in a product, you are speaking to their specific preferences.

Time To Up Your Game

Once you have determined what type of content and messaging will appeal to the specific members of your audience, time to verticalize your strategy! The customer journey is an integral piece of running any full-funnel digital campaign, and it is important to identify the different steps in the journey for your vertical specifically. Based on the industry you are advertising for, your customer journey will differ.

Let’s consider 2 verticals to compare—financial planning and investing vs. travel.

Customer Journey: Financial Planning and Investing

The customer journey for this vertical is built on 4 stages, similar to other industries like retail: discovery, evaluation, decision making and purchase. Let’s take a look at each of those stages.

Discovery

Prospects looking for financial services are often researching options online, reading comparisons and generally discussing with others on what is the best solution for them. There is a big opportunity for this vertical to influence decision making with native ads comparing—and introducing—products and services. At the beginning of the customer journey, it is important to make an introduction that leaves the prospect informed.

Evaluation

As prospects begin evaluating their options, they may reach out to a financial advisor for more information or read more on reviews and seek information through online forums. They want to see how the relationship will fit with their own financial planning needs. Video ads can offer a great way to send an emotionally-driven message to the viewer—showcasing a story of how customers feel and how they could feel if they were to become a customer.

Decision Making

As prospects try to decide on a financial advisor or investment product, display ads are helpful to reinforce the brand’s values and messaging related to the service being researched. 

Purchase/Sign Up

At the final stage, the prospect begins the process of setting up their financial products with an institution either online or through an advisor in-person or over the phone. This final step in this vertical is interesting as often customers will not switch financial options—or need new financial options—if they are happy with the service. This means that once they have reached the bottom of the funnel and become a customer, retention is the next step to maintaining a good relationship.

Customer Journey: Travel and Tourism

For this vertical, the buyer journey looks like this: inspiration, research and discovery, booking and travel. Let’s dive in… 

Inspiration

Not all travellers know what they are looking for when they start their research—unlike financial services, where the prospect knows they want a new credit card, for example. In this stage, the challenge is to inspire travel and put your brand or destination top-of-mind before prospects even begin to consider their travel options. This can be achieved successfully through native ads, but instead of showing comparisons, listicle blogs work very well for travel. Although this vertical may start with the same channel in the beginning, the messaging is slightly different to accommodate how prospects navigate this space.

Research and Discovery

Once prospects have been exposed to the options you’ve presented, it’s time to capture their attention as they continue their research. They may start looking at flight and hotel options, as well as what there is to do at the destination to ensure it’s where they want to go. Essentially, you are engaging in-market travellers searching for things to do in your destination before they leave home. Video ads work well to reinforce the messaging the prospect was exposed to in the inspiration stage and show how they will feel if they decide to book.

Booking

This was the last stage for financial services, but for travel it’s the second to last. Getting travellers to book or purchase in this vertical is the conversion and the best way to get there is to remind prospects of what they’ve been engaging with. Leverage dynamic retargeting, either with native or display, to target high-purchase intenders that browsed your website and serve them a customized ad based on the content they’ve seen.

Travel

This may not be an obvious stage in the buyer journey, but for travel it is! The inspiration does not stop after the first stage, and in fact, it continues right through to the end of the journey—when the traveller is actually on their trip. It is important for this vertical to find people in transit and anticipate their needs, finding moments to upsell and cross-sell. To achieve this, you could use IP data and geotargeting to serve ads in known travel locations such as airports, train stations, cafes and hotels.

Building your vertical strategy goes beyond segmenting your target market based on interests and likes. It is imperative that you understand their spending habits and device preferences to build a campaign that will correlate with their online behaviour. Moreover, based on the vertical you are advertising, the needs of the prospect are unique, and as such, the customer journey is too. This means your targeting strategy and tactics should align with that as well.

Reach out to your StackAdapt Representative to learn how you can apply a robust vertical targeting strategy to your campaigns.

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