There’s a desire to take a reader-focused approach over anything else

Brands might say: “It doesn’t matter, we want it to look like this.”

Twitter’s Head of Content Marketing EMEA, Paul McCrudden, says that every publisher really is only interested in what’s best for the consumer. “While a one to many approach can be effective, using a consumer-first approach should mean that targeted content is better — because it’s more personally relevant. Or, rather, it has a higher chance of being more personally relevant.”

He points to a recent article by Jerry Daykin, Dentsu Aegis’ Global Digital Director, on ‘perso­nalised marketing at scale’ as a useful refe­rence. In it, Daykin outlines the emerging trend for brands using big data to reach different consumers with different creative messages.

The Cadbury Facebook page is a good example of this, as Daykin explains: “Looking at it, you’ll sometimes see a cheeky Creme Egg update next to a family friendly suggestion of a craft activity to do with their Egg’n’Spoon product. To the untrained eye it can look a little contradictory, but using media targeting, the brand can actually make sure that millions of different people are seeing the respective posts — or dozens of other iterations which may not ever be publicly shared on the page.”

Similarly, Coca Cola segmented the US Facebook population for its 2014 Super Bowl advert, reaching different groups of consumers with the same video but a different thumbnail and copy tailored to their interests and demographics. Daykin says that the big issue to watch out for in all of this is ensu­ring that however detailed you go with your targeting, you still ladder up to an overall significant level of reach.

This gives brands the ability to essentially get the best of both worlds: subtly tailor creative executions based on demographics, interests, location or even purchase history, reaching millions of consumers but each with something that seems personally relevant and interesting. For FMCG, this is particularly relevant, as it could for instance position them entirely differently to excite teenagers versus the parental audience who might actually be the ultimate purchasers.

McCrudden adds that if brands take this app­roach (perhaps as part of a publishing strategy that also encompasses a one to many element as well), in theory, the results should be better. “More relevant content equals more engagement, which in turn leads to higher purchase intent/more sales — and could actually prove to be a better use of time than trying to throw the same content at everyone.”

Former Cosmopolitan and Red magazine editor Sam Baker tells a similar story about the creation of The Pool, her new online magazine founded with broadcaster Lauren Laverne.

Just two weeks before joining the first Board meeting, she told the Guardian: “When­ever we talk to people — big internet users, people who are on their phones all the time — they felt completely overwhelmed with content, and if you look at how most people are delivering content, they are just producing huge amounts and hoping things will stick, and the quality of that is not always great. We want to take a converse view and say: what’s the content she wants, where is she and how do we put that into her life?”

Laverne, on the other hand, describes The Pool as a “broadcast” model inspired by the success radio has had in remaining part of people’s daily habits, despite the rise of the internet.

“Radio is always the audience of one: where are they, what are they doing? You start with them and work back.”

How we can be better at dealing with this

· Explore, read about and consider “personalisation at scale.”

· Quality over quantity, every time.

· Consider your audience as multiple different segments, rather than one amorphous group.

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