Ad-Centric Motivational Targeting Validated by In-Market Programmatic Experiment

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Several different types of targeting have been validated in our industry, and all of them can be used together for maximum business results:

  • Heavy category buyers are worth more per impression
  • The heavies that are also Swing purchasers (they buy your brand sometimes not always) are the most responsive to advertising
  • If you reach them with an ad that speaks to the aspects of the product most important to them as individuals ("product motivations"), they are more likely to respond
  • If you reach them with an ad that subconsciously conveys the things that motivate them the most in life ("personal motivations" or "life motivations"), they are more likely to respond.

The heavy buyer effect was proven to work in the early 1970s from work done by Brand Rating Index (BRI), the forerunner of MRI. The Swing effect was proven to work by TRA in 2008. The two motivational effects were just proven in September 2020 by RMT, Semasio, and Reset Digital, whose results were presented at the recent Advertising Research Foundation (ARF) conference.

RMT DriverTagsTM are 265 psychological variables discovered by Next Century Media in 1997 based on set top box field trials which winnowed these 265 variables out of 1562 tested as the ones that best predict program adoption. Simmons later discovered that the 265 variables also explain incremental variance in all brand adoption. More recently determined by RMT, the 265 variables were found to cluster into 15 Motivations similar but more extensive than Maslow's 5-way Hierarchy of Needs classification.

Semasio and RMT have extended the application from set top box data to digital page exposure data. In the process Semasio and RMT have coded thousands of advertiser safe websites by their RMT Motivations. Based on the Motivations of the websites they frequent, 276 million Americans are now being reclassified every day as to their own individual life motivations based on their last 30-day digital content consumption.

Semasio is also capable of classifying sites and people based on their product motivations, as exhibited in the experiment presented at the ARF.

In the experiment, three matched groups of targets were sent the same ads. One cell consisted of people targeted based only on their product motivations, a second cell was made up of people targeted based only on their life motivations, and the third cell targeted people who qualified for those ads both based on their product motivations and their life motivations.

Reset Digital, the all-in-one transparent programmatic adtech stack delivered the campaign into the three cells and measured the KPI.

The product was a Kindle book that just launched – my new sci-fi novel PANDEMONIUM: Live To All Devices.

Being a book sold online, the clickthrough to the Amazon Kindle page is a necessary step to conversion that cannot be skipped. The expected conversion delay is several weeks because the prospect will generally download a free sample of the first 35-50 pages of a Kindle book, then convert after discovering they like reading it and have come to the end of the free sample. Therefore, in order to be able to present at the ARF in time the only KPI that could be used was the clickthrough.

The clickthrough rate on books sold this way averages 0.1%, which was the control benchmark.

RMT determined that the personal motivations of the book are Power, Heroism/Leadership, and Experience/Sex. Semasio determined that the product motivations are sci-fi, psychics, aliens, and conspiracy. The 4 ads were created to convey these motivators.

The results: each type of motivation on its own more than doubled the benchmark. The two types of motivations working together more than quintupled the benchmark.

This is before adding context effect. RMT has been validated by Nielsen Catalina, 605, and Simmons and given the Sequent Award for context effect leadership. We know context adds to targeting. The next experiment the three partnering companies shall do of this kind will add in the context effect. The expected result will be more than quintuple current benchmarks.

Recommendations: each brand should do its own proof of concept. The cost is quite nominal and the upside ROI improvement of expanding targeting to include the creative, product motivators, and personal motivators, on top of known historical purchase proclivities, is the kind of significant advance needed to succeed in the challenging new environment. Also recommend testing context on its own and in combination with the new empathetic, ad-centric, and individual-centric targeting modalities.

Disclosure: Bill Harvey is founder of RMT and Next Century Media.

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