What’s the Right Marketing Pour for Liquid Audiences?

All that stuff about socioeconomic and demographic groups, reach and frequency? Well, forget it. That’s the central thrust of a report on the “Liquid Audience” that Randall Rothenberg, president and CEO of the Interactive Advertising Bureau, will deliver at Cannes this Wednesday.

“The New Liquid Consumer Paradigm,” co-sponsored by digital video company YuMe, is the result of interviews conducted with 36 senior media and agency executives, all of whom affirm that new territory needs to be explored to reach audiences that constantly migrate across media channels like “tribes of interests.” The technological captaincy and the fluid dynamics of the liquid consumers make old tools useless. “Today, using demos to define and reach audiences is like using a blunt instrument,” said McKinney Chief Digital Officer Jim Russell.

As a result, publishers and agencies have moved from media-first targeting approaches to audience-first, maintains IAB. But liquid audiences are hard to pin down, and they are known to shape-shift. “While consumers like to be part of a community, they ultimately want to be treated as individuals,” said Lincoln Bjorkman, Wunderman’s global chief creative officer.

What it comes down to for brands, the report concludes, is storytelling—unfolding a consistent brand story across all channels in episodic fashion. “Our definition of audiences has changed as they are now in the driver’s seat with myriad ways to access content,” said Brian DiLorenzo, CEO of Ming Utility and Entertainment Group. “Still, it’s imperative not to chase them. Everyone comes to their destinations with a different mind-set and expectations that will determine their behavior.”

A good place for marketers to start these days, said R/GA Chief Creative Officer Nick Law, is mobile. “All other screens are an impoverished version of mobile,” he asserted. “A desktop mouse can’t pinch or scroll like you’d naturally want to do on a mobile device. Geo-location is limited on other platforms. Mobile provides the richest environment so it makes sense to start there.”

Of course, the report allows, all the storytelling and media migration must be informed by astute data analysis, and KPIs can perhaps be stored away in the closet with demographics reports. “Today we have access to real first-party data that generates accurate insights about people’s behavior and interests,” commented Barbarian Group CEO Sophie Kelly. “It’s not about static KPIs. It’s about a measurement and optimization system that helps adjust messaging and experience by device in real time.”

The volume of available data and the technological ability to deal with it all has laid down new rules for agencies. “At one point data and measurement used to be mediated and artificial, whereas today we get closer to the truth, which is at the level of engagement with the media,” said the chief creative officer of a global ad agency who asked not to be identified.

In revealing more about “liquid audiences” at Cannes this Wednesday, IAB’s Rothenberg will discuss the concept in a panel discussion with Danielle Lee, VP of commercial marketing at Vevo, and Athan Stephanopoulos, SVP of strategy and partnerships at NowThisNews.

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