Why YouTube’s Bespoke Audience Targeting Can Help Retail Brand Interest Grow

March 17, 2020

In light of recent global events, it is more important than ever for retailers to not only hold onto existing customers, but also boost brand awareness in order to engage and gain new audiences too.

For paid search specifically, marketers might ask themselves, “What’s the best course of action when brand text ad impressions may be declining, and my audience pool largely consists of past visitors?” Google boasts a wide range of display options to help grow a brand, but which of these solutions is going to impact that all important metric, ROI, in the most positive way?

In the hugely competitive retail sector, smart audience targeting is fundamental. By targeting the right audience through display, you can leverage brand interest through audiences that are likely to convert on your brand. The question is – which display option should you go for? This blog is going to focus in on the benefits of running YouTube advertising to lift a stagnating or declining retail brand.

Why YouTube?

As it’s the second biggest search engine (after Google, of course!), with nearly 1.9 billion active users, YouTube creates bountiful opportunity to reach your desired audience. The platform prides itself in finding valuable audiences for your brand.  We’re going to focus in on two of these audience types: “Life Events” and “Custom Intent Audiences”.  

Life Event Targeting

Google’s Life Event’ targeting is currently only available for Gmail and YouTube campaigns. This option allows you to reach those going through a major life event, such as getting married, graduating from university or even moving to a new house. The opportunity to target based on milestones can be hugely valuable on a longer-term basis, compared to in-market audiences, and they’re also more targeted than affinity audiences. 

Consider the value of a home furnishings company who targets users based on the life event, moving houserather than by age bracket. By targeting on a life event, you’re narrowing in on ‘real’ people who are going through a life transition, rather than through simpler demographics. It’s also important to think about the longer-term, and even lifetime value that this type of audience can bring to your business. In the example of the furnishing company, matching to people who are moving to a new home presents definite longer-term value, as her or she will be looking to update their new home with multiple items. This person will now have a positive association with the brand based on a key moment in their life. It’s more likely that the brand will retain this customer for future events and improve their overall lifetime value. This whole strategy could be a key tactic for brand growth and retention.  

Having said that, Google’s life events targeting is primarily geared towards the younger generation, given that people who reached young adulthood in the 21st century are prime candidates to get married, graduate college, and move to a new house – so, not as useful for the older generation. 

Custom Intent Targeting

Fear not, for this is where Google’s Custom Intent Audience, comes into play. As an advertiser, this is your opportunity to create an audience based on search behavior, which could be more specific to your brand, and target those at the critical point of purchase. 

Custom intent audiences are another targeting option through YouTube, and while this option is also available through GDN, don’t be fooled – the name is where the similarities end – and you shouldn’t use the same strategy across mediums. This is because, although both audiences are keyword-based, they are derived from different data sources, and as a result, constructed differently. YouTube custom intent audiences draws from search behavior, whereas display network custom intent audiences find users through web and app behavior. As a result, when creating custom audiences for YouTube, it is imperative to understand your audience’s search behavior, and think about how targeted you need to be to make the sale. Considerations include, should you be including more research-based terms or keep it sales focused? What terms show the most purchase intent? What terms are going to provide more long-term value? Although we’re looking for new customers, is it worth including branded terms for a separate remarketing strategy? 

Take the example of a retail brand that wants to target those specifically in market for designer handbags. Although, they could use affinity targeting of ‘shopaholics’, the ability to target those on YouTube who have recently searched ‘designer handbags’ is a much more valuable and relevant customer to them as a brand. By adding in more specific sale-focused keywords – “buy designer handbags on sale” – you can become even more targeted for the sale, but searches with more research focus can be valuable in the long-term in raising the brand’s profile. Thus, custom intent audiences for YouTube gives advertisers the tools to capture their audience, i.e. those who are most likely to engage with their brand. It would be even better to run custom intent audiences on the display network as well to further funnel the growth and help build relationships with users.  

The Value of Reaching Real People

In Summary, although there are millions of ways to reach your target audience, and using YouTube, specifically helps to reach ‘real’ people, builds more of a long-term relationship with users and can be more targeted than the other display options out there. Using a more personal approach, by targeting people at key moments in their lives and leveraging search behavior, can help fuel brand interest and loyalty within the brand – which will ultimately improve both traffic and revenue/ROI performance on lower funnel channels such as paid search!  

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