An average person in the world today spends about 2 hours each day on social media platforms, according to a report by Hootsuite.
Moreover, as many as 44.8% of global internet users used social media to search for brand information in 2020, and the social platforms gained 1.3 million users every day, or 15.5 new users every second.
All these people, scrolling through their feeds, interacting with each other and with different brands, generate zettabytes of data that marketers can use to derive useful insights. Broadly, this data can be classified into three types.
First party data is mostly in the form of the content that users post on the platform, second party data which customers share with the platform, and third party data which comes from the online behavior of the customers outside of the platform.
Until recently, this third party data was made available to advertisers and marketers by platforms like Facebook, but in the wake of growing privacy concerns and corresponding regulations (GDPR, for example), Facebook removed its Partner Categories feature for advertisers. This means that marketers have to depend on third party data sharing platforms.
Why are third party audiences important in social advertising?
Brands can understand a lot about their customers by using first person data from social media platforms.
For example, if you run a chain of sporting goods and you observe someone posting pictures of them regularly attending badminton matches, you would find it advisable to show them ads for badminton gear, or deals that offer the chance to attend some high profile badminton events. But, to gain a 360-degree view of the customer it is important to look beyond social media activity.
For example, as the Covid-19 lockdowns are lifted all over the world, it would be beneficial for the sporting goods company of our previous example to know which audiences are planning a camping trip soon.
Similarly, home-decor or furniture brands may want to know the audiences who have recently bought new apartments, and car manufactures would like to identify potential customers who are looking at the market to buy a new car.
Third party audience data can help businesses do all this by bringing in signals from outside the social sphere and building engagement through social media.
Let’s look at some of the other major ways in which using third party audiences in social advertising can help businesses.
Better segmentation for showing ads to relevant audience
Brands often segment their social media target audience based on what they like on different platforms, but it is much more insightful to gather and analyze the data about what exactly the customers are doing on the social media platforms.
By working with data field experts like Epsilon, brands can recognize their target audience based on insights from different data streams like purchase history.
By enabling brands to recognize potential customers, third-party data saves the time needed to define the audience. Businesses can also buy refined and good-quality data sets from respected vendors to directly target the desired segments.
So, for example, a business can show its ads to families, living in a specific postal code, who have been remodeling their kitchen, instead of wasting its resources on a broader audience.
Increased personalization for better customer experience
According to Outgrow, lack of personalized content generates 83% lower response rates in an average marketing campaign. This proves that customers are expecting a better, more personalized experience from brands, and the brands are falling short on delivering that.
Using third party audiences in social advertising can help you gain the insights you need to tailor the customer experience in ways that feel unique to each customer.
It can allow you to learn about customer preferences, based on demographic metrics like location, age, or the devices used by them to interact with your brand.
By leveraging this data you can deliver personalized content to well-segmented audiences.
Look for non-generic insights
For most brands, it is easy enough to look at broad third-party data and derive readily available insights. For example, as a fitness retail brand, it is fairly common to expect more business near New Year’s day because people are more liable to make resolutions regarding their health and witness.
But, the problem with such insights lies in the fact that all your competitors are also acting on the same insights, thereby taking away any edge that you could have hoped for. Moreover, you cannot promote specific services and products with such broad insights.
Using third-party data through audiences in social advertising, on the other hand, lets you drill down into your insights. So, if you want to sell a fitness video subscription service, you can target audiences in particular age groups and income brackets, who live in cities with fast Internet connectivity.
You can also set your goals based on data from previous years, like how many days does it usually take for people to start acting on their new year resolutions?
Making use of third party audiences is obviously not a magic-bullet solution that will transform your marketing results overnight. To craft a successful strategy, you need to take the best of all available data and utilize it together to make sure that your marketing resonates with the people it is aimed at.
As a business owner or a marketer, you would need to smartly invest in acquiring good-quality audience data, testing it, refining it, and building a holistic view of the customer. You will also need to pair the insights thus gained with social and demographic traits, consumer attitudes, and transactional spending.
However, there is no denying the fact that third party data, when used in tandem with your experience with your business and brand, can truly achieve some spectacular results for your business goals.