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Strategy & Insights

The Custom Intent Audience Era Is Here

By Danni Winter

December 20, 2023

custom intent based audiences

Meet Adventurous Ashley – you might know her from her wanderlust-filled TikTok and Instagram Reels, sharing breathtaking sunsets and #vanlife stories with her husband Spencer and their adventurous Border Collie, Cooper. 

Imagine her wide-brimmed hat in the coastal breeze, a local microbrew in hand – the epitome of the free-spirited lifestyle that both delights and tantalizes marketers.

But here’s the catch: Ashley doesn’t exist. 

She’s a cleverly crafted persona, an alluring ghost in the digital marketing machine. In 2022, advertisers wasted a staggering $5.46 billion chasing after “Ashleys” – fictional personas that might seem perfect but are, in reality, untargetable.

It’s true, marketers have long relied on persona guesswork without the insights to support and optimize efforts. 

Yet, the future – and the solution to this waste – lies in understanding and reaching intent-based audiences for paid media marketing. Unlike broad demographic targeting, intent-based marketing zeroes in on real people demonstrating clear signals of readiness and interest. And we’re not just talking travel marketers here. The lesson laid out below applies to a broad variety of products and services, from vehicles to healthcare and everything in between. 

Intent audiences are classified not just by their demographics but by their behaviors, from early-stage research to active deal comparisons. This approach revolutionizes the way we identify and engage with high-propensity groups throughout the buyer’s journey. It’s about harnessing data intelligence to tap into the momentum of interest, rather than casting a wide, often ineffective net.

The difference is profound. Instead of speaking to a constructed persona, intent-based marketing allows you to address real people, in real-time, responding to their demonstrated interests and needs. 

This is the power of intent audiences – they are the key to transforming wasted ad spend into strategic, impactful marketing that reaches the right people at the right time.

layering custom intent based audiences

Get to Know Your Intent Audience Types

Before activating targeted campaigns, it’s essential to identify different intent audience categories ready for tailored messaging. Let’s explore a few core types that move beyond basic personas to leverage behaviors signaling consideration and readiness at different funnel stages:

High Propensity Audiences

This group resembles your ideal customers but is not actively searching yet. They have key traits — demographics, habits, interests — indicating they would enjoy your product, service or destination. Though they don’t realize it, the value proposition resonates. Think latent intent.

Passive Audiences

These folks are in the early research stage without exact needs defined. They are exploring ideas — browsing smart home devices or kitchen gadgets without particular product specifics decided yet. Passive audiences are consuming general inspiration and benchmarks as they weigh what solution is right for addressing their situation.

Active Audiences

This group is actively searching your brand name, packages and region-specific offerings, such as comparing rates across several local gyms. They show significant progress moving down the sales funnel. Now is the time to motivate action with targeted campaigns.

Recent/Repeat Visitors Audiences

Remarketing audiences who visited your site or booked services within designated recent timeframes concentrated around certain high-signal pages or actions. These could include long-term recovery segments who purchased over a year ago as well as short-term nudge segments who clicked on content within the last 30-90 days.

Choose Targeting Levers Strategically

Assessing strategic ad targeting levers is a critical initial step in reaching intent audiences. There are three considerations to have in choosing the targeting:

  • Platform-Specific Assessment: This is a crucial step. Each advertising platform (like Meta, CTV, or native platforms) has unique capabilities and ways of representing data. By understanding these differences, especially in demographics like gender, income ranges and regions, you can better tailor your campaigns to the strengths and audiences of each platform.
  • Goal Flow and Objectives: Aligning your targeting levers with your campaign objectives is essential. For example, if your objective is to drive lodging referrals, your targeting strategy will be different from a campaign aimed at increasing brand awareness. This alignment ensures that your targeting efforts contribute directly to your campaign goals.
  • Flexibility and Balance: The balance between specificity and reach is a key consideration. Too-specific targeting might limit your audience size, reducing potential reach, while too broad an approach might reduce the relevance and effectiveness of the campaign. Finding that sweet spot where your campaign reaches a sufficiently large yet relevant audience is crucial.

Even the most relevant targeting still provides just one slice of the customer’s journey. True impact requires layering levers synergistically to guide prospects through an orchestrated flow. Stacking complementary data and segments meets buyers wherever they are, serves them a personalized message and moves them forward.

types of custom intent based audiences

Layer, Layer, Layer for Personalization

Single-dimension targeting fails at fully capturing the essence of an individual. This is where layering comes in — the process of accumulating multiple data signals to build a customized profile and score for each person. 

For example: target both financial services firm employees AND attendees of recent wealth management conferences. The aggregated layers deliver a fuller picture of brand selection drivers and rate negotiation tendencies.

When applied strategically across channels, creative messaging and nurture sequences, layering allows brands to serve their customers as multidimensional individuals rather than one-size-fits-all personas. The resulting tailored relevance drives meaningful engagement in a crowded marketplace. Ultimately layering enables brands to:

  • Create more qualified impressions. Further personalization at scale. Move from broad to narrow targeting. 

Layering does the heavy lifting in establishing customized profiles amid market fragmentation, but brands must be deliberate to realize the benefits. They should focus on increasing relevance with tips like reaching qualified users through refined behavior and intent markers first, then broadening campaigns out from there.

Tips to Level Up Your Layering Game

A few parting thoughts before you master intent audience layering across channels:

  • Always place retargeting segments within other viewer dimensions. Recent site activity alone leaves money on the table. Remember to reflect additional categories like income, geography and trip interests.
  • Map messaging to the detected intent level. Are they dream shopping or ready to book? Ensure copy and creative aligns.
  • Develop an optimal sequence based on where target users are detected along the sales journey. Meet them with relevant info.
  • Review intent options on each marketing platform before activating. Identify layering opportunities during planning when designing campaigns.

Migrating From Guesswork to Precise Insights

We don’t need to keep chasing imaginary Adventurous Ashleys down travel wanderlust rabbit holes. As alluring as crafted personas seem on a surface level, the reality is you can’t target an illusion. 

Which is why the days of wasting budgets hoping personas pan out are over.

The future lies in embracing intent data layering — identifying and engaging real people based on their real-time signals. The difference between broad demographic guessing games and precise insights unlocking value can no longer be ignored.

Understanding audience momentum gives you an insider invite to speak to high-potential buyers at exactly the right times. Meet them wherever they are on their journeys instead of grasping where you hope they’ll be. This evolution eliminates waste and unlocks orchestration.

The proof points and possibilities speak for themselves. Feel overwhelmed on where to begin your layering journey? Contact our targeting specialists to help uncover your best audience opportunities and your new friend, Converting Caroline. 

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