Personas have long been standard operating procedure with my agency and many others. Not that long ago, we began layering our personas with Google Affinity Audiences data to give them greater depth, insight and actionable attributes that inform our content strategies as well as our ad campaigns. What is Google Affinity Audiences? Google Affinity Audiences is an ad-targeting option that lets advertisers engage precise audiences based on lifestyle and interests. From Google’s perspective, Affinity Audiences lets marketers target enthusiastic audiences of consumers likely to love their brand, on a massive scale. Let’s say you make natural dog food. Using Affinity Audiences, you could target “Dog Lovers” and “Green Living Enthusiasts” who presumably would be more receptive to your ads for dog food with no artificial ingredients.
Over 80 Segments Google created over 80 consumer segments (such as “Dog Lovers) using rich data points and past online behaviors—taking into account how many times a consumer visits a site and for how long. Using this data (chock full of algorithm goodness), advertisers can reach only those audiences who have shown a proven interest in a topic related to a brand. Dog Lovers vs. Golfers Here’s what’s really interesting. When we started to explore Affinity Audiences in Google Analytics for ad campaigns, we realized that the data could also be used to inform our content strategies. For instance, with a healthcare client, we were able correlate search terms that the audience (males in their 50’s) was using to learn more about our client’s services, e.g. hip replacement surgery with segment data. Turns out, men looking for information on hip replacement surgery were more likely to be dog lovers, cooking enthusiasts and outdoor enthusiasts. Who knew?
In the past, we may have assumed men in their early-50’s looking for information on hip surgery were sports enthusiasts or, wanted to get “back in the game.” With Google Affinity Audiences, we use data to deliver imagery and messaging more relevant to a traveler “back to the trail” or weekend chef “back to the grill” or dog lover who want to get “back to playing Frisbee with his four-legged friend.” So it’s not a stretch to see how the data can help marketers, content developers and creative people put a finer point on their content planning and development efforts. Google’s Affinity Audiences and Personas Recently, personas have become increasingly sophisticated as we’ve introduced more qualitative and quantitative data to them. At a recent Forrester Conference, a great deal of discussion centered on the value of ethnographic research in developing personas that meaningfully represent customers—insight that builds stronger and longer lasting brand relationships. Research like this goes a long way to providing a more empathetic lens through which we now view customers. Add to the equation new tools like data from Affinity Audiences, the insights you can glean are of exponential value—to your organization and, more significantly, your customers.