How programmatic can boost sales to ethnic groups

Living in Stockwell, South London, as I do, it’s easy to appreciate the importance of accurate ethnic targeting. Half a mile to the South is the large Caribbean community in Brixton, while a few hundred yards to the North is Little Portugal in Vauxhall.

By Tony Evans, Corporate Development Director, Crimtan.

Traditionally, if you wanted to sell to either of these communities, or the dozens of other ethnic groups dotted around the UK, you would use specialist print publications or online websites, door drops and TV stations. More recently, you would have added ethnically targeted social media like Facebook and Instagram to reach second generation ethnic populations.

But with the surge in popularity of programmatic media buying, what are the opportunities for retailers who want to reach defined ethic groups?

One of the biggest benefits of programmatic is the potential to target market segments based on a number of criteria – including ethnic characteristics, lifestyle and demographical data. By delivering personalised messages that engage individuals, programmatic makes ethnic marketing more powerful and more effective because you show you understand their culture and speak their language. Programmatic ethnic marketing can help you connect with your customers on a deeper, more emotional level so they form a closer bond with your brand.

“Ethnic celebrations and cultural holidays are a great way to boost sales at specific times of the year and to build a stronger emotional bond”, says Bill Miller of MediaExiles, an agency specialising in reaching ethnic audiences. He adds that “ethnic groups can be particularly responsive to targeted messages at times when their culture is in the spotlight. Diwali, Eid, the Jewish New Year, Golden Week and the Notting Hill Carnival are all good times to talk to reach ethnic groups with relevant messages that reflect their culture.”

Why it matters

Five years ago, the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA) put the purchasing power of British ethnic groups at £300 billion and a more recent report by Policy Exchange predicted that people from ethnic minority backgrounds will make up nearly a third of the UK’s population by 2050 – with the five largest distinct Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) communities doubling from 8 million people or 14% of the population to between 20-30% by the middle of the century.

Population of the UK’s five largest ethnic groups

So as Britain becomes more diverse, the size of the ethnic population increases and so much potential spending power lies in the hands of multicultural groups it’s more important than ever to think about your target audience and ensure you are maximising your advertising effectiveness.

Despite these compelling statistics, many brands make little or no effort in marketing to ethnic communities. In 2014, the IPA’s “The New Britain” report said that 77% of British Asians surveyed felt mainstream advertising had no relevance to them and 65% of black people felt unmoved by mainstream media. Generally, BAMES think advertising should try harder to portray them and their lives more realistically.

Whether you are selling niche products that appeal to a specific ethnic group or are a mainstream brand that wants to increase sales among ethnic communities, to avoid missing out on a huge number of potential customers and ensure you’re engaging your audience, you need to think carefully about audience segmentation, targeting and personalised messages.

Understanding your audience

Before you start targeting you need to understand what factors are most likely to drive more customers to your site, or into a store, to buy. Where do your prospective customers live? How old are they? Are they male or female? What language do they speak? What kind of content do they consume? And when you understand that, you need to ensure that the messages relate to their lifestyle, personality and culture.

That’s where programmatic and a good a technology partner can really make a difference to your marketing ROI. By analysing your site visitors and customers, a predictive platform like Crimtan’s Architect™ can profile your audience, create segments and show you the data that’s most likely to perform the best – all before you spend a penny of your marketing budget. Some of the audience attributes you will discover include:

  • Their demographics like, age, gender, household income.
  • Where they live (down to postcode level) and the value of their property.
  • The best day of the week, time of day and place (at home or at work) to reach them.
  • Their ethnic group.
  • The type of content they consume and share on social networks.
  • Their lifestyle, interests and hobbies.
  • Their life stage, social circumstances and aspirations.

With this information you are ready to run programmatically powered digital display advertising campaigns that are targeted directly at the people most likely to be receptive to your brand and buy your products.

Maximising Campaign performance

Once your campaign is up and running, a wealth of additional trading data will enable your technology partner to fine-tune the targeting and adjust optimisation strategies to maximise campaign performance. Some of these strategies can include:

  • Advertising only in postcodes relevant to the ethnic group you are trying to reach.
  • Recognising the language of individual users from their browser settings and page content.
  • Using specific keywords to ensure that the user is culturally relevant.
  • Identifying sites that have large numbers of visitors from the ethnic groups you want to reach.
  • Establishing which users are currently in-market to buy your products.

And all this can be overlaid with demographic and social data to refine delivery to specific segments within the target ethnic community – such and income, age, favoured brands, property type, lifestyle and family situation.

With all this data and the right technology you can be sure that your online advertising is seen by exactly the people you want to reach – new potential customers. But there is still one more thing you need to think about.

The importance of creative

It goes without saying that the advertising message should be written in a language that the user will understand. But creative imagery like backgrounds, fashion and hairstyles also need to be relevant.  And you also need to consider the type of offer most likely to appeal and what call to action will get the most response. The best results will be achieved by making sure the creative is personalised for the user – leading to greater engagement and increased interaction.

By using dynamic advertising technology, like Crimtan’s Reflow DCO, you can easily deliver different messages to different people. This could be something as simple as making sure that the language is right for the user and that men and women, or old and young people see different messages.

Or, if you are a mainstream brand, dynamic creative technology can handle thousands of data variables and instantly build a creative in real time to ensure that each user gets delivered an ad in the right language, with the right image, message, offer and call to action.

Putting it into practice.

Marketing in 2017 is all about how effectively you can engage with consumers, and brands can’t afford to ignore the clear differences in ethnic audiences. The brands that are using the latest technologies to understand their customers and personalise messages for them will benefit from the growing spending power and huge potential of this relatively untapped market.

For Sarika Shankarnarayan, VP Marketing & Sales for StarTV, using programmatic technology is a great way to reach its diverse Asian audience groups with relevant messages that resonate: “At Star we believe that powerful stories connect & these stories need to be delivered to our audiences worldwide. We understand that different inter-generational Asian groups want different content and access it on different devices. Programmatic is a great way to reach these very different audiences and talk to them personally, using relevant content to grab their attention”.

While traditional, offline media and specialist ethnic websites will always be a part of the marketing plan, programmatic brings opportunities to reach a wider audience and customise messages so that they are more compelling. The fact it is also more measurable and flexible should make digital advertising an essential element for any marketer who wants to talk to an ethnic audience.