Published Wednesday, Nov 6, 2019
Figuring out what consumers want is a constant job for brands and marketers. What do they need today, and what are they considering buying down the road? It's not easy figuring it all out.
That's where intent data and interest data can help. They allow brands and marketers to understand what consumers want so they can ensure their businesses are offering those things. With digital advertising spending surpassing traditional ad spending this year, it's important that marketers have a firm grasp of the two so they can keep their customers happy and their businesses heading in the right direction.
But what are intent data and interest data, how do they differ from each other, and why do you need both?
Interest data is best described as what a particular consumer or set of consumers is generally interested in. These are long-term areas of interest, such as sports, environmentalism, or healthy eating. These don't change much, and if they do, they usually change slowly over time.
Companies like Valassis get at this data by analyzing and tagging internet content, associating it with interest categories, and connecting it to households and neighborhoods. That data is then aggregated over the course of a year to ensure the day-to-day variations are smoothed out.
This kind of data set helps companies better target products and messaging. Interest data, especially given that it’s long-term, offers companies a more in-depth picture of who someone is, providing marketers with the opportunity to better personalize their message and offers.
Unlike interest data, intent-based marketing is more recent and more urgent. The difference between the two is that intent-based marketing speaks to what a consumer is planning to put into her basket within the next week or two. As such, intent is more fleeting and changing.
For instance, your consumer might be looking for a cup of coffee today in a city she's visiting. Tonight, she’s thinking about a DIY project she wants to work on soon. This weekend, she’s dreaming about that sports car she’s wishing she could get. And the following weekend, she's shopping for a minivan because she's looking forward to a new addition in the family.
Intent data analyzes those content consumption patterns to predict what a consumer is likely to want to purchase in the immediate future.
Consumer packaged goods manufacturer Conagra has moved toward intent marketing for its ad buys, which has transformed how the brand communicates with consumers, according to Lisa Mathison, Conagra’s senior director of media. The company uses insights from consumers to help communicate to them when they're most receptive to the message.
Beyond targeting the right person at the time of purchase, intent data is a dynamic signal indicating when a campaign should be turned on or off for specific audiences.
A coffee campaign should light up for people who are sending intent signals to get a cup today or stock their cupboards tonight. But when those folks turn to the next thing, such as cocktails or ice cream, the campaign should turn off and focus on the audience sending stronger intent signals.
Marketers need interest data to understand the long-term interests of a person they're targeting and intent data to understand what that person is focused on right now. But bringing them together is crucial for giving marketers a full picture of consumers.
For example, one interest profile might suggest a man is interested in theology, sports, literature, and folk music and has a few kids in the house. But the intent profile (based on his recent internet searches and content consumption) would tell you he's about to perform a wedding ceremony so he needs a minister's guide to weddings, he needs to find a dry cleaner, and he's digging the band The Dead South right now and might be open to buying tickets to a concert.
One without the other might suggest different messaging that might miss this person. For example, if you know he's listening to The Dead South but don't know that he generally likes folk music, you might try to suggest other mainstream country bands and miss the mark. If you know he's into theology and literature but don't know he's looking for wedding vows and other wedding details, you might try to pitch him on going to a seminary or a used bookstore.
But when you know both, you can send him an ad for a dry cleaner with a message about getting a suit ready for a special event, and you would be right on the money.
By combining intent-driven marketing with interest data — with location data added into the mix — you’ll gain access to the full story of who your customers are. As a result, you’ll see more people driven to your brand because you’ve shown them that you care enough to personalize your message to their interests.
But you can’t do it alone. You need someone who’s continuously gathering, evaluating, filtering, and serving up this intelligence in a manner that allows you to target digital ads dynamically.
Some other competitors might offer similar levels of detail, but Valassis does it best and most comprehensively, especially because we combine long-term (interest), short-term (intent), and location (where you are, have been, live, and more) data.