July 17, 2017

Fast Five: Mass Or Targeted?

For the final installment of Curious Season 5, VCCP welcomed Sky AdSmart, A Million Ads, Thinkbox and JCDecaux, to debate mass vs targeted communication.

For those who missed it, we’ve picked out our top 5 takeaways from the session:



1) TV’s reach shows us the power of Mass Communication

What would be your guess for the average number of eyeballs watching a standard TV advertising campaign? According to Thinkbox, it’s an eye-watering 238 million. With this in mind, we should always be mindful of the impressive broadcast reach of TVCs when considering a media weighting of mass vs targeted. If we aren’t delivering mass communication there’s a risk we’re not delivering value for money.


2) Short term ROI vs long term rewards

Has the industry become gripped by the more easily measurable click-through rates and return on investment of targeted communications, and so lost sight of the bigger picture and longer term goals? With targeted digital ads we can clearly see the return we are delivering, but is this at the expense of moving the dial for brands in the longer term? One of the panel made the observation that truly iconic brands are made in the buzz of the public realm and not in the discrete back alleys of digital display.


3) Targeted promises personalisation in a way mass cannot…

By their nature, mass communications are broadcast and not personalised. With so many of them reaching us so frequently, one of the panel suggested mass communications offer more opportunities to irritate than to see. The personalisation on offer to marketeers who use targeted communications means brands can have a more relevant, intimate level of engagement with the consumer. Take for example the rise of programmatic radio ads on platforms such as Spotify; the ads are largely played through headphones and streamed on the move. Using the mobile digital footprint to serve relevant messages has thus managed to reinvigorated the value exchange of radio.


4) …though there is a capacity to get targeting wrong in an embarrassing way

While targeted communications facilitate an array of interesting possibilites, the personalised nature of the creative also narrows the margin for error. One of the panel offered the example of geo-targeted ads which confused people from Yorkshire and Lancashire,  misreading something integral to their identity and thus triggering a backlash of ridicule. As such, the stakes can be higher when relying on the subtlety of personalised creative as opposed to the broad appeal of a generic brand shout.


5) The answer seems to be…a bit of both

Mass communications are important for both the reach they can offer and their capacity to forge truly iconic brands.  However, targeted communications offer more relevant and personal interactions with consumers, as well as a clear-cut understanding of the return on investment. A mix of both is what will allow a brand to make the best use of their media arsenal,  allowing them to connect emotionally with their audience while safeguarding the business case for their budgets.



Special thanks to all our guest speakers for such an insightful debate and also to VCCP Media’s Catherine Becker for chairing. Make sure you check out the next Curious season later this year when we’ll be turning our focus to the weird and wonderful world of Artifical Intelligence.

Until then – stay curious!

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Team Curious

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