It makes sense to speak to the consumers who want to hear about your product or service — and not spend precious time on audiences who aren’t interested. That was the strategy of Saudi Telecom Company (stc), Saudi Arabia’s biggest telecoms operator, when promoting the launch of their new 5G product line last year.
Their media agency Universal McCann (UM) consolidated all of stc's data to create a holistic view of their consumers. This allowed the agency and stc teams to conduct detailed analyses and capture insights on the different audience segments. They then worked with creative management platform Ad-Lib.io to A/B test different ad messages and determine which approach would drive the highest engagement amongst each audience segment.
Identifying key audiences
Stc started by analysing their first-party data — information shared directly by people with their consent — to identify the top five most relevant audiences to advertise their new 5G product line to. This breakdown was based on consumers’ affinity and in-market behaviour, rather than just their demographic or predetermined behaviour. The teams looked at:
- The highest conversion rates and lowest bounce rates in Google Analytics 360 to identify audience passions and pain points.
- New users in Display & Video 360 (DV360) to track the highest overlap similarity index. This identifies and removes any overlap in similar audiences.
- The audience’s passion for a topic, or likelihood to purchase a product, in YouTube Analytics.
- Deep dive into stc's engaged audiences (those who have previously interacted with their campaigns) on DV360, and identified affinity segments that these audiences belonged to (i.e., Gamers, movie buffs, travel enthusiasts, etc).
“Through this analysis and preliminary filtering, we were able to pinpoint the top audience profiles,” said Abdallah Al Farm, digital paid media manager, consumer business unit at stc. “We clustered them into five audiences most likely to be interested in faster reception from 5G — movie buffs, avid gamers, motorheads, travel enthusiasts, and sports fans — and we made sure to focus on their unique interests when engaging with them.”
Creating dynamic creatives for each audience
Working with Ad-Lib.io, stc developed a dynamic ad campaign for display and video. They started with a base creative and scaled production by using dynamic templates to produce custom concepts where they can select the fixed elements and the flexible elements.
This approach generated over 264 tailored display ads and 21 video creatives cross-channel and cross-market through the Ad-Lib.io platform in mere days.
Each audience was exposed to a specific version of stc's ad, highlighting the value of 5G to them. For example, gamers saw ads tailored to emphasise 5G’s ability to prevent lags during play with copy referencing Fifa, the popular football video game. For movie buffs, messaging was around the ability to watch a film without interruption.
Setting up the right measurement plan
The team tested different messaging options that ran as creative variations of a custom ad for each specific audience segment. They then measured the performance of these variations by looking at the clickthrough rate (CTR) for display ads, and the view through rate (VTR) for YouTube ads.
They were able to understand which variations were the most relevant and engaging by assessing their performance for each audience, eliminating the worst performing ones from the creative rotation. Copies containing a question, like “Who doesn’t love some action?”, or ones with a clear call to action, such as “Support your league”, were clear winners. “By understanding what our audience wants, we were able to engage with them more efficiently,” said Al Farm.
By tweaking their creatives to show different messaging and relevant imagery across multiple audience segments, stc improved their CTR and VTR. The display ads achieved a 1.43% CTR, more than double the existing display benchmark of 0.7%. And on YouTube, the dynamic ads hit a VTR of 31.32% — 16% higher than the benchmark.
Once the worst-performing creative variations were cut from the rotation, cost per mille (CPM) and cost per view (CPV) also saw a significant fall, proving that dynamic tailored creatives are a cost-efficient approach to ads.
“By understanding what our audience wants, we were able to engage with them more efficiently,” said Al Farm.
The stc and Ad-Lib.io teams are now using insights from this approach to adapt their other existing campaigns. And they are planning to use it for future ones as well to continue to improve audience engagement.
Key takeaways for marketers
- Use your first-party data to understand your audiences, their needs, and their evolving interests.
- Start with a base creative and work with an agency on dynamic ads so you can produce variations at scale for different audiences.
- Identify the right metrics to measure performance.