Who are They Talking To? An Ad Audience Guessing Game

Kim PierceallMarketing

Highly targeted advertising must be working. I see more and more ads that make me go “hunh?” Now, you might assume that I’ve got a reasonably high level of media savvy. Quite right, given my profession and natural curiosity. Yet some of these pitches seem way out there even for my surrealistic tendencies.

There’s this TV ad for shoes that effectively shows some footwear while the wearers yak about what women first notice on a man. The message implies “shoes”. I typically don’t recommend gazing at a guy’s feet right off the bat. Look him in the eyes to see what he’s about, says I. Hear the whizzing sound as the message skedaddles over my head. So “who are they talking to” exactly?

Clearly, it’s not a female 40-something marketing-type gal who likes movies, mochas and museums. But do young men really think about these things? Talk about these things? Buy these things? Are these ads really hitting the target?

As media planners and marketers grapple with new ways to connect with buyers in a “360-degree, cross-platform world,” the audience becomes more fragmented and specific. Rather than assume advertisers have lost their grip, I take the “hunh” and raise it to “hmmmm”. If we assume the ad is showing at this particular place and time for a reason, then imagine who on earth they could be talking to. Then, imagine how you might have to talk to that person, too.