Signal Planning Removes Static
ADWEEK|September 18, 2017

Smart Data Allows Media Execs To Stop Using Panels, Predictions—And Funnels—To Find Real Consumers.

Barry Lowenthal

There are still a lot of brands that define their consumers based on age, gender, income and education, which is how audiences have been measured since Arthur Nielsen started measuring radio listenership in the ’40s and TV viewership in the ’50s. Back then diaries were sent to U.S. homes and respondents were asked to write in what they watched and listened to. Up until recently diaries were still a big part of measurement.

Partly because advertisers needed standardization, and partly due to limited computer processing and technological innovation, most brands defined their consumers by broad definitions, like adults 25-54, household income $75k+ with a high school education. The problems with that kind of definition have been examined in marketing research journals ad nauseam. It’s time to put that approach to rest and welcome the age of signals.

The age of signals began with the rise of programmatic buying, which was the first time behavioral data was able to inform media buying decisions at scale in real time. Social accelerated the use of signals and enabled custom audiences and even more precise targeting. Social also accelerated the purchase funnel and moved the purchase journey to mobile. Now shopping and first-party data has made signal planning the most compelling media planning innovation to come along in decades.

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