Relevance not targeting

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Today’s creativity demands relevant, big ideas at every level.

Mark Read recently challenged everyone in advertising with the following statement: “We spend a tremendous amount of time worrying about media targeting and programmatic media and optimisation but we don’t do nearly enough, I’d argue, to think about how to personalise the creative messaging that goes to consumers and that has to have equal weight.”

This isn’t just an issue for online advertising, it’s an issue for all media because by the end of this year, 85% of all media will be addressable. Right now, however, only 2% of messaging is currently being tailored to the audiences (Google, 2019).

It’s this structural gap that Read was challenging our industry on.

Addressability demands that we think not just about data and targeting but also the consumer’s need for relevance. A study by Accenture estimated a loss of more than $1 trillion in revenue for brands due to relevance gaps in their messaging; we live in an age where 90% of consumers get annoyed when messages are not relevant to them.

Your target today no matter which category you represent, is a super consumer – one who, in her limited time, has developed the ability to juggle multiple media platforms, has a complex web of influencers while influencing hundreds of others, filtering out everything that is not relevant to her.

This consumer’s need for and expectation of relevance for everything in her life has pushed us into a new age of creativity – one that the creative industry as a whole is not yet delivering.

This new age demands relevance at every level – when connecting with culture, in platforms on which we connect with the consumer and at a personal level addressing her specific needs.

Already 25% of purchase decisions are being driven by a brand’s cultural connections. Being relevant at a platform and personal level gives us the potential to drive additional performance increases upwards of 45%, based on WPP Open dynamic creative optimization averages across markets and clients 2020.

With half of the power of advertising to drive behavioural change on the creative messaging, the failure to address creative dimension of addressability is a massive missed opportunity.

In this new age of relevance rules, three aspects will be central:


Creative ideas have traditionally been driven by a singular insight around what make consumers similar – what makes the collective move. In this new age, where relevance matters, we need to also look for what make our consumers different – their different behaviors, needs, desires and motivations. Differences that your brand’s products and purpose can address across all altitudes of messaging – from a cultural level to segments of people and at an individual level. Mars Petcare, for example, engages in broader efforts with the purpose of making the world better for pets by driving innovations in its pet food nutrition as well as talking about how that makes a difference for your individual pet, based on the breed and their specific needs.


Data is key to unlocking the differences that will drive relevant creative. Having audience strategists that can delve into the bytes and bytes of data to emerge with meaningful insights will be key to success in this creative age. For example, the audience strategist on Ally Bank identifies segments of audiences and their specific financial needs based on their purchase behaviours, life stages as well as, in some cases, the specific savings goals that are captured during their interactions on the website. This helps uncover insights that enable the creative to be relevant on an individual level.


It is key for the production process to be connected to your audience planning and addresses their differences in ways that move the needle. Most creative production processes are currently disconnected from the target audience. We need to shrink the distance between audience data, creative and production to address audience relevance. Platforms like WPP Open, for example, provide the ability to bring in your first-party data to bear in the creative and production process.

We have entered a new age of creativity driven by a need for relevance and it is time for us to put in more thought into creativity – the nuances required to make ideas, big or small, work for everyone by rethinking the process and our use of data and technology.

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