July 5, 2017

Mass vs Targeted: getting you up to speed ahead of our next Curious talk

We hope you’re excited for the season finale of Curious Season 5! As always, we like to give you a little inside scoop into our theme so you can swot up ahead of the main event. This installment is going to focus on the age old debate: ‘mass vs targeted’. We’ll be hearing from some of the biggest names in the biz to hear their perspective including Sky Adsmart, JCD, A Million Ads, and ThinkBox. Not sure what we’re on about? You’ve come to the right place – have a read to bring you up to speed.

There is currently tension in the industry between theory and action. Whilst the Byron Sharp school of thought tells us that speaking to as many people as possible is surely the best way to build that all-important salience, a long-term success metric, the industry has simultaneously become more focused on the prospective wins of with hyper-targeting and focusing on short-term results which has been facilitated by the rise of digital and supposed ‘real time’ measures of success (or indeed failure). Indeed, just because you can get hyper-specific with who you’re talking to, doesn’t mean you should). Really, the two approaches will do different jobs for your brand – a mix of both targeted and mass is needed depending on what you’re trying to do: use mass to build brand fame and salience, and targeted to elicit conversion.

Any ad which has stuck with you and made you feel positively towards a brand counts as a great example of mass (think Ikea, Lurpak, Cadbury’s). Meanwhile, an innovative use of targeting would be the Economist programmatic campaign, which targeted people who were intellectually curious, but reluctant to read the Economist. The ads used Economist headlines and were placed alongside contextually relevant news articles to serve readers with provocative extra content which matched what they were looking at. The campaign led to over half a million new prospects.


Yet our world is converging, no longer is it prudent to think in terms of this binary construct, and more often than not, clients demand both. The lines are merging and actually where before we have considered channels that did one job and not the other, now we have convergence.  There are some great examples of combining the two: using mass channels to communicate targeted messages, such as the intelligent Lexus billboard which recognised passing cars and spoke directly to them.

However, taken to its conclusion, and in an age of ad fatigue and healthy consumer cynicism, do we run the risks of brands becoming too generic/irrelevant or at the other end of the scale too creepy?

Come along to our season finale to hear our speakers have their say in the big debate.

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