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Why audience insights are the secret weapon for every brand’s successful media strategy


Lucie Pearce, Head of Marketing at, explores the role of audience insights in shaping successful media strategies for brands. 

18th Sep 2023

When it comes to audience segmentation, demographics alone cannot provide a truly rich and holistic picture of a target audience. The truth is that people do not consume simply based on their age or income bracket - there are so many other nuances that inform a customer’s path to purchase.

Whilst in the past brands had to rely on surveys and focus groups to build a picture of their audience - methods which are both time-consuming and expensive to conduct - they simply do not provide enough depth to be a true reflection of a demographic or cohort of people.

In the same way, whilst social listening can work effectively to build a picture of the relatively small handful of people who actively comment or post online, it doesn’t consider the silent majority. And whilst there is a lot of sentiment on the internet, a lot of the noise being made often isn’t truly representative of people’s attitudes. It’s the silent majority – the 90% of people who are active online but do not comment or post, but who simply observe – who can prove to be a brand’s most valuable asset. They may not be making all the noise, but they are engaged and ready to have brands engage with them.

Whilst tracking customers online can offer valuable insights, brands must consider the ethical implications of doing this. Collecting customer data without clear consent will erode any trust customers have in a brand if they feel their data is being exploited or shared without their knowledge. Alternatives such as first-party cookies and contextual advertising offer brands an opportunity to understand customer preferences responsibly whilst delivering an engaging customer experience.

It's easy to bucket people into consumer segments, but it’s also crucial to unpack the segments, to understand the people within the data. Brands need to understand what makes their audiences unique compared to that of their competitors. Once brands understand what their audience love, and who they consider to be influential, then they can target them more precisely.

Audience insights start with people

Consumers are not static. Their needs and wants evolve over time, as do their passions and interests, which have an impact on how and when they choose to consume. To stand out in a crowded marketplace, brands need to understand the behaviours of their audience and what motivates them to purchase…and then act upon these insights.

Thanks to advances in technology, brands now have access to more audience data than ever before.

Thanks to advances in technology, brands now have access to more audience data than ever before. But the real skill lies in being able to crunch through the billions of datapoints on offer to them to build a nuanced picture of who their audience is. This can then be used to inform marketing strategies and activations, or to help build influencer or sponsorship strategies.

But having insights alone isn’t enough. Brands need to be able to action them. It’s about ensuring you are speaking to the right people, in the right way, at the right time.

Knowing who your audience are…and who they could be

Whilst at first glance it may seem obvious who your audience are, it’s very easy to make assumptions without really understanding what drives them. It’s also about knowing where, when and how to reach them.

Taking this one step further, it’s also about identifying new audience segments to target who have shared interests with your current audience but may not be aware of your product or service.

For example, a sports brand will know their obvious target audience will be people who play sports, have an interest in health and fitness, have a gym membership or belong to a sports club/team. But delving deeper, a true audience analysis will be able to uncover more granular insights such as what sports they play, shared music interests, what media publications they enjoy reading, what movie stars or TV personalities they are fans of, where they like to eat out, what social media influencers they follow, and so on.

This can then be used to create more intricate audience segments or ‘tribes’ based on these shared interests and preferences, with individual media strategies created to suit each audience group. It’s only once you fully understand your audience, that you can create bespoke advertising that resonates with them and reaches them on the right channels. Knowing when your audience is online and what platforms they are using will ensure the right messages are being delivered.

In addition to understanding who your audience is now, focus needs to be on who your future customers are going to be.

When it comes to futureproofing your brand, in addition to understanding who your audience is now, focus needs to be on who your future customers are going to be. Understanding what groups make up your competitor’s audience, and how their ‘tribes’ compare to your own, will help to identify new audiences with whom to engage with, offering clear opportunities for brand growth.


The future lies with data

For brands, the key to success lies with delivering relevant messages to the audience, at the right time, in the right place.

By taking a data led approach with every media planning strategy, campaigns can be tailored specifically for each audience according to the online channel, using relevant content to create seamless cross channel engagement.

With customers more aware of how their data is being used, brands need to act more strategically when it comes to understanding who their audiences are and how to reach them. Contextual targeting, where the focus is on understanding rather than tracking audiences, offers an alternative way to engage with audiences online. Social platforms consisting of organic declared data allows brands to understand media consumption across all these channels, again without the need to track.

Data led audience insights are a crucial first step in reaching customers online. Combining audience understanding with contextual engines enables brands to create actionable insights to deliver powerful and effective campaigns, supporting brand growth.

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