Avoiding the BS in ABM

Account-based marketing, or ABM (because what’s a marketing term without a corresponding acronym), is a B2B strategy that targets specific, high-value accounts to convert them to a sale. The key differentiator between a traditional B2B approach and ABM is that the strategic focus for ABM is building relationships with specific accounts’ key decision makers that require a personalized experience to generate qualified leads and incremental revenue. 

When initially evaluating how to implement an ABM strategy, you’ll likely be led to believe that you need to onboard specific ABM marketing platforms and measurement solutions in order to be effective. However, there’s a good chance that you already have the necessary tools to be successful – they just need to be reimagined with an ABM lens. Before opting to onboard new partners, read through our steps on how to implement an ABM strategy within your existing tech stack. 

Reaching the Right Audience

The foundation of any ABM initiative is an audience targeting strategy that enables media to accurately reach in-market accounts. The traditional approach to B2B audience targeting through digital channels is centered on driving users to the site to fill out leads forms, which are then the accounts that are manually qualified and followed up on by the sales team. The opposite happens with an ABM strategy, which starts with identifying the core accounts to engage with and nurture to simplify the process of fostering a relationship with the sales team. 

Developing an ABM strategy can feel overwhelming at first since it’s like trying to locate a needle in a haystack in order to reach key decision makers. However, it can be accomplished with strategic data partners that seamlessly plug-and-play within your key media buying platforms to maintain an integrated ecosystem. B2B data partners with ABM targeting solutions, such as Bombora and Dun & Bradstreet, can provide firmographic segments which use data to categorize organizations based on industry, location, technologies used, and more to identify and reach critical accounts. When evaluating data partners, it’s important to understand the methodology used to define audience segments to ensure the audiences are built to reach the intended users. Additionally, if your brand has existing CRM lists, ABM data partners can enrich the data to improve accuracy and scale. 

Scaling with Contextual Targeting

Given the nature of ABM audience targeting being more of a one-to-one approach to reach accounts and their respective key decision makers, campaigns may be susceptible to scaling issues. To mitigate low reach and high expenses, leverage contextual targeting as a complement to the data-driven audience targeting strategy to add scalability to the overall marketing initiative. Using contextual targeting, media is able to reach accounts while they are actively researching content that indicates interest or intent in a relevant product or service offering. Engaging users with relevant messaging while in the proper mindset can capture attention and drive key onsite actions. 

It’s important to note that contextual targeting has become far more intelligent than it was at its onset due to advancements in natural language processing and large language models. Contextual targeting is no longer a mass reach play, but rather an effective targeting strategy when executed with understanding of behavioral intent signals and corresponding keyword and top publishers research. 

Nurturing Leads with Sequential Messaging

Since a key differentiator between an overarching B2B strategy and ABM is a focus on the individual account, delivering a personalized experience from the initial touch point to the sale is critical. Sequential messaging can be leveraged as a lead nurturing strategy that provides the key decision maker with the information they need based on their intent signals and current stage in their buying journey. Utilizing previous ad engagement and onsite actions as data touchpoints, sequential messaging can provide a series of ads to potential customers that tell a continual, highly tailored story to drive users toward conversion. For example, if a user downloads a whitepaper, signaling interest in a product or service but have not yet converted into a qualified lead, targeting them with tailored messaging to drive them back to the site with a specific offer could result in the acquiring of a new account. 

Many programmatic buying platforms that are likely already part of your tech stack have sequential targeting logic incorporated into the audience builder, enabling re-engagement based on exposure to or interaction with a creative message or key actions taken on the brand’s site.

Determining Effectiveness with a Measurement Strategy

The first step to developing a measurement framework is implementing a pixel strategy that captures key onsite actions to both inform campaign performance and enable custom audience creation. It’s important that the pixel strategy complements the media strategy to ensure all intent signals are captured to monitor stages in the consumer journey. Intent signals should be used to better understand your audience and its current needs instead of pushing for leads straight away before they are properly primed. 

That being said, paid marketing alone is rarely enough to fully nurture a lead into an account. But with an effective ABM approach, you can avoid clogging up your Salesforce with people who just wanted a whitepaper. Below are the key stages of the ABM journey and the corresponding key metrics to measure along the way:

  • Educate: It’s important to establish the brand as a thought leader in the industry and showcase the product or service’s value to decision makers in order to break into their consideration set. The initial touchpoint with key accounts should be centered on the education of the unique business application of the brand’s offering, fueled by a carefully curated content strategy. In this stage, measuring metrics such as time on site and scroll depth will indicate that media is reaching a qualified audience and capturing attention with content that satisfies a current interest or business need. Also, measuring cost per unique reach will inform if media is efficiently scaling and introducing the brand to a breadth of key decision makers.
  • Engage: The proper cadence of engagement with accounts is critical to a successful ABM strategy. Utilize intent signals and firmographics to understand the right time to engage with key decision makers, understanding what relevant information they’ll be looking for as well as typical buying cycles. It’s important to remember that each engagement with an account should bring value to aid in the decision making process. In this stage, measuring engagement metrics, such as cost per whitepaper download and cost per completed video view, will indicate if the message is resonating with the core target accounts to drive meaningful user activity.
  • Qualify: The final stage of the ABM journey is focused on acquiring qualified leads that eventually lead to a high revenue sale. It’s important to identify the true value of a qualified lead prior to the marketing campaign launch to establish cost per lead goals that better inform the platform algorithms on the value of lead to prioritize media spend toward. This will ensure media is capturing qualified leads from key decision makers that are indicating intent to convert. In this stage, it’s also important to measure return on investment (ROI) since leads aren’t guaranteed revenue. 
  • Evaluate: While marketing is primarily responsible for marketing qualified leads rather than sales qualified leads, it can still be valuable to measure sales cycle efficiency. This metric determines the effectiveness of media touchpoints at driving key decision makers from the awareness of the brand to the point of sale. This can help inform if the messaging and audience targeting strategies are reaching the right users with the right message at the right time.

Planning and activating an account-based marketing initiative can feel overwhelming since it is presented under the guise of complexity and needing specialized tools in order to succeed. But if you peel back the layers of ABM, you’ll discover that its core components are not entirely different compared to a traditional B2B strategy. Before reinventing the wheel, consider your approach to digital media and how the existing tools within your tech stack can be repurposed to apply to an ABM approach before investing time and money in yet another platform.   

 

Do’s and Don’ts of Using Generative AI for Creative

Few innovations have so thoroughly dominated cultural obsession quite like Generative AI. In the past year, hundreds of companies have emerged offering their take on what this technology can do — in the marketing world this is either an easy button for more sales or the end of the world as we know it, depending on who you ask. And while in the programmatic buying world working alongside a machine-learning copilot is nothing new, many branding teams are currently having to build their playbooks largely from scratch when it comes to using AI for creative. 

With this in mind, we’ve identified broad tips for experimenting with the latest tech without accidentally landing your brand in hot water.

Do: Use generative tools to more tangibly express loose ideas

For those of us who can’t even draw convincing stick figures, generative AI can assist in communicating the general ideas in our heads. They can be useful for quickly storyboarding concepts, giving examples of dynamic or sequential messaging during high-level conversations, and communicating the style type a brand would be looking for from its internal teams or creative partners. In this way, generative AI can be used similarly to temp scores in film editing: a temporary placeholder meant to communicate the general tone-and-feel of the scene to help guide composers’ original work. 

Don’t: Launch a campaign with images pulled directly from AI products

Though we may be amazed with tools like DALL-E or other art generators, using generated art for profit is a tricky legal gray area. The current consensus is that AI-generated work is public domain, but this is being actively challenged. As companies like Getty Images and DeviantArt have asserted in lawsuits, these AI tools have been trained on others’ intellectual property — therefore calling into question who AI-artwork really “belongs” to. A collective of artists frustrated by use of their copyrighted works as training materials are trying to bait Disney into a lawsuit by prompting tools into generating versions of Mickey Mouse. 

AI for creative

With these legal questions in mind, if you’re still eager to leverage AI for improved efficiency, consider the straightforward yet cost-effective offers from Google Performance Max, Meta Advantage+, and TikTok SPC. While their templated style isn’t likely to “wow” an art director, the performance perks are worth testing while we wait for these tools to roll out additional creative personalization offerings and for regulations to be standardized.   

Do: Experiment with AI-driven efficiency in the creative process

While generative AI tools aren’t sophisticated enough to produce something original for your brand, they can ease the burden of the more repetitive or menial tasks like resizing or touch-ups. As Adobe beta users have already learned, Photoshop’s Generative Fill feature should also tremendously aid artists in the process of generating backgrounds, removing objects, or refreshing existing branded content into something that will work in different environments. Features like Generative Fill also carry less risk than free generative tools as they were trained on Adobe’s own Stock photos, resting the fears of their new branded content looking remarkably like a Pixar cartoon. 

Don’t: Frame use of generative AI as your “big idea”

Many brands were likely inspired by the earned media coverage of Mint Mobile’s Chat-GPT Ad, which heavily leaned into the novelty of generative AI and echoed the general public’s excitement at its potential. While it may seem odd to imply something from less than six months ago is already passé, media coverage has since shifted away from novelty and toward critique and the moment has truly passed. Brands grabbing attention now are the ones complementing generative AI’s output with a strong human voice, like Burger King’s tongue-in-cheek response to McDonald’s “Answered by Chat-GPT” creative. 

AI for creative

Do: Implement guidelines for generative AI usage

The adage of “with great power comes great responsibility” most certainly applies to Generative AI as it can do a great deal of harm if left to its own devices. Before rolling out AI tools in your organization, it’s critical to first establish what purpose AI will serve and how it will be utilized. The question is not what AI is able to do, but what AI should do to improve efficiencies in your organization. Once use cases are established, work internally to create a set of guidelines and policies on how to responsibly engage with AI tools so that they are used for the right reasons.  

Don’t: Allow generative AI to operate on autopilot

It’s important to keep in mind that the core function of Generative AI is to produce an output in response to a user’s query, even if the tool doesn’t have the necessary or accurate information to do so. Generative AI tools are largely trained by the data that users feed it, which can be problematic as some data inputs are inaccurate, outdated, or biased. ChatGPT, even after a January 2023 platform update aimed to improve accuracy, still only has accurate data available up until September 2021. Bias results from training data as well. Tidio, a customer service software company, conducted a series of experiments to test the level of bias in AI. They asked one AI tool, StableDiffusion, to generate pictures of a doctor, and it wasn’t until the third try that the tool eventually produced an image of a female doctor. As a result, it’s critical to do your due diligence and both fact check and gut check the output of your AI query to ensure that it does not support the spreading of misinformation or hurtful biases. Treat Generative AI as your co-pilot that works in tandem with human logic and reasoning when producing assets.

Generative AI presents many opportunities to streamline efficiency and spark ideas, but there is still much to unfold as the technology continues to be developed and regulated. The do’s and don’ts above aim to be a general guide to follow, but each organization should proactively discuss how to best experiment with this growing technology — there is a lot of uncertainty, but you don’t want to be left behind as new industry norms  develop. For now, using these tools to better define your big ideas, drive better communication across teams, and improve the efficiency of more monotonous tasks is a great place to start. 

This space is moving quickly, so keep a pulse on the latest rollouts to understand what tools are available for your consideration. 

To learn more about AI, listen to this episode of The Loop Marketing Podcast:

Understanding Audio Advertising

Audio advertising – through podcasts, streaming platforms, and various radio formats – is in vogue. It’s essentially the mom jeans of digital media. But this time, it’s less about catchy jingles and more about authentic, engaging content. 

Coegi is enthusiastically leaning into this space, adding new programmatic audio capabilities and publisher-direct relationships to our repository of digital solutions., We connected Coegi’s Director of Innovation, Savannah Westbrock, to answer some key questions about the latest trends and technologies within audio advertising. 

What are the primary benefits of audio advertising?

The biggest advantage I see with audio advertising is the ability to meaningfully reach engaged audiences anywhere. Consumers spend an astonishing one-third of their media time with audio content. Over 424M individuals tune into podcasts worldwide – that’s over 20% of all internet users! And with 85% of audio listening being done on mobile devices, it’s a great way to reach users on the go and feed into a mobile-first marketing strategy. 

Podcast advertising becomes increasingly relevant for brands aiming to reach Gen Z. A 2023 report found that Gen Z listens to podcasts nearly as much as they watch streaming TV. Yet, audio advertising is still a largely untapped white space in the market for many brands. 

No matter your industry, marketing goals, or budget, explore how your brand can leverage the influencer status of podcasters to gain brand awareness and build authentic audience connections. Even if you are opting for programmatic audio, aligning your branded content with contextually relevant and interactive audio advertising content will increase authority and brand affinity. 

How has the world of audio advertising changed over the last 5 years? Did the pandemic impact audiences’ listening behaviors?

Despite expectations that audio would decline with the rise of hybrid office work and fewer commutes, time spent with audio during the lockdown stage of the pandemic seems to have grown at-home streaming audio listenership to levels not seen previously. 

In 2021, at-home audio streaming grew to surpass 90 minutes per day, with expectations to continue rising. Podcasts have been a major factor driving this growth, which could be related to the increase in individuals creating new podcasts from home.  

Podcasts are a unique audio advertising opportunity. How can brands do podcast advertising “right?”

This advice is going to be true of all media, but especially with podcasts: know your audience. Heavy podcast listeners usually have tight bonds with their favorites, especially those who subscribe to support their favorite creators. Ensure your audience matches the show, and then ensure the inventory itself is a strong fit for your strategy. 

What is the value of doing host-read audio advertising versus dynamic ad insertions (DAI)? Are there noticeable differences in use-case or performance expectations?

Host-read podcast ads have been the mainstay for many years due to historically limited programmatic audio ad formats as well as the benefits of a more organic ad experience. Programmatically inserting audio ads may turn listeners off of your brand if they feel irrelevant and disruptive. 

Collaborating with creators may be a better choice if your product or service has a very specific audience. In this case, the process will work much like influencer marketing. (For a full step-by-step process, view our Influencer Marketing Guide.)

However, if your product has broad enough audience appeal that the content of the show itself is less of a strategic concern, dynamic ad insertion remains a doable tactic. With programmatic audio and DAI, you also gain greater flexibility. You can swap out outdated ads with new ones, versus host-read ads which live in the podcast archives forever. Take timeliness into consideration as you weigh the pros and cons of these options. 

In what ways are host-read podcast ads similar to or different from influencer marketing?

The relationship between podcast marketing and influencer marketing is quickly becoming a squares-and-rectangles situation. Generally speaking, you can expect a strong recommendation from a podcaster to carry a perception of greater authenticity for your brand. 

The core difference is the content itself. With influencers, influencing purchases is the content, whereas podcasts cover every topic under the sun. A relevant recommendation from a trusted host is more akin to a testimonial than an influencer’s #sponsored post. 

How do you measure the impact of audio advertising?

Depending on your strategy, measurement will look very different. Programmatically-bought audio spots allow for most standard digital metrics like clicks (via companion banners) and inferred view-through conversions. 

But increasingly, strategists are viewing podcasts as a similar opportunity to influencer marketing. With this approach, pairing awareness KPIs, such as reach and lift, with referral codes or unique landing pages can be a stronger play.

For more benefits and tips, check out our 3 Reasons to Use Podcast Advertising blog

If you’re interested in running audio advertising campaigns with Coegi, contact us for a discovery call

MarketingProfs – How to Humanize Your B2B Strategy in Five Steps

Oh, the humanity! You’ve lost a potential lead because your only attempt to reach out was a message buried in a pile of unopened LinkedIn In-Mail.

That person might get around to clearing those out on a rainy day and responding. But even then, you’ve likely missed the window when your marketing efforts would be credited for the result.

Thankfully, there is a better way to reach B2B audiences: Stop limiting yourself to traditional “B2B” strategies.

Fully 83% of business buyers say that you must treat them like a human, rather than just a sale, to win their business. Your audiences live full lives outside of the workplace. You have ample opportunity to humanize B2B marketing strategies with cost-effective digital media.

Use these five tips to improve your B2B marketing strategy:

How to Uncover Insights in Marketing Research

The tools we use to conduct marketing research and understand our target audiences and industries are constantly evolving. Traditionally, syndicated research tools have been the go-to resources to understand media consumption and behaviors.

But brand challenges require much more than knowing how many hours a day consumers watch TV to put together a successful marketing strategy. 

How to Find Meaningful Marketing Research Insights

Use both qualitative research and quantitative research to unveil unique marketing trends and audience learnings for brands. From social listening tools to focus groups to macro-level industry reports, you need multiple sources to achieve a 360 degree view with your marketing research. Instead of always turning to the same default tools and platforms, take on a journalistic mentality and get creative to discover unique insights that will differentiate your strategy from competitors. 

Lean into your creative side. Use out of the box tactics to search for answers to questions such as: 

  • What’s the press coverage on this topic? 
  • What changes are happening in the vertical? 
  • What’s happening in adjacent industries? 

From this type of information sourcing, you can then better contextualize the second or third party data embedded in syndicated research and build custom insights for your brand.

It’s also important to look at your own historical first party data, when available. Evaluate what’s been successful and not in order to provide a starting point to build baseline learnings.   

Balancing the Art and Science of Market Research

Marketing research is both an art and a science. You need some specific numbers to justify assumptions and hypotheses. But there’s also an element of simply trusting your intuition. A lot of times it’s right and a lot cheaper than running complex, time consuming studies. Your team’s instinct and experience is going to become increasingly valuable in finding insights and closing the gaps

Sometimes, simply putting yourself in your audience’s shoes and mimicking their behaviors reveals more than any survey could tell you. As an example, if your audience are heavy Twitter users and the data indicates they use certain hashtags – actually read through that content. Go to the subreddits they might frequent. Watch the Hulu shows they’re watching. Use this time of exploration to see if you can unveil something new about how your audience is living day to day.  

Avoiding Research Pitfalls

With so much data available, you can use research to essentially prove any point you want. This makes it easy for bias to creep into statistics, intentional or not. If you think the audience is Millennial Moms, there will undoubtedly be evidence somewhere pointing to confirm this assumption.

To avoid this, be transparent when your data does not back up your hypothesis. This is one of the more powerful things you can do to form trusting relationships with your colleagues and clients. It’s okay to admit if the research is refuting your initial assumption. Use this as an opportunity to build a bridge with this learning and adjust your strategy to continue making your marketing smarter.  

Additionally, when using third-party studies, it’s important to remember that people answering surveys aren’t always going to be completely truthful about their media consumption or lifestyle. Take a step back before blindly trusting what you’re reading and hearing.

Watch this video for more tips on avoiding common research mistakes:

Finding the Big Idea

Strategists are always digging for the ‘big idea’. The groundbreaking tactic, message, or plan the world has never seen before and will make you millions. If you have a predestined big idea in your head, don’t let that blind you from finding something even better. You need to ground yourself by exploring a variety of research sources without forcing anything. Allow the data to weave together a story rather than reverse engineering your predetermined story to create a successful path forward for your brand. 

Key Takeaways

In the impending privacy-first marketing landscape, there will be more emphasis on planning and finding the right research. Decision making is coming back to the hands of marketers, rather than left to platform algorithms.

Take a balanced, creative approach to the market research process and unlock the most meaningful insights to improve your bottom line and build customer loyalty. 

To hear more about Coegi’s approach to marketing research, contact us for a discovery call today.

Cookieless Targeting and Identity Solutions

An audience-first approach or 1:1 marketing is something brands often strive for. As a digital marketing partner, it’s at the core of our mission. 

However, the ‘cookieless world’, the meanest curveball Google has thrown at the industry yet, is approaching – even if its arrival has been further delayed. With cookieless targeting, being ‘audience-first’ takes on a new definition. 

Targeting will no longer be as simple as building an audience persona and pressing “go” on pre-made data sets. Instead, it’s about really diving into the ethos of who your core consumer is and using that intel to guide your audience strategy.

We sat down with Coegi’s Account Strategy Director, Savannah Westbrock, to get her perspective and tips on how she’s helping clients prepare for cookieless targeting. The following article is an edited transcript of that interview.

It’s Time to Improve Your Audience Research

How should audience research change in light of the cookieless future?

There are three changes in audience research most marketers need to make to ensure the data tells an accurate story: 

  1. Understand the methodology: We rely on research every day to inform our media plans and marketing decision making. However, we often don’t peel back the curtain to understand how that data was collected and consider potential biases. In the cookieless future, it will be even more important to think critically and be selective with our data sourcing. 
  2. Exit the platform: Don’t rely solely on demand side platform information and forecasting for your planning. This data will be most affected by cookie deprecation. Instead, combine platform insights with external research that never relied on cookies. 
  3. Diversify your data sources: It’s time to get creative. Platform data and syndicated research will still hold value. But, you’ll need to layer it with non-syndicated data and first party data. Combine these tools to see a full picture. Even consider non-media data, such as macro-environmental trends, which may impact your audience’s behaviors and the industry at large. 

What types of cookieless data should brands be gathering to understand their audiences?

Pixel-based retargeting is essentially out of the picture. The best pivot brands can make is mining their own first-party data. But you don’t have to rely solely on your own data. Combine ‘hard’ data such as your website and platform analytics with ‘soft’ data such as social listening. Taking a more journalistic approach with these softer data sources can actually provide more meaningful insights and make your brand more authentic and trustworthy. 

Tip: Balance quantitative and qualitative data. Trust your instincts and use research to back up or refute as needed. 

How can marketers collect and expand their first-party data? 

First, you need to have systems in place to generate leads. Then, it’s all about what you do with that customer data to maximize results and become more strategic. 

Lead generation campaigns: Keep first-party data and zero-party data collection top of mind when planning campaigns. For example, promoting a useful downloadable with a lead form. This will help drive consideration and give you an opportunity to learn about your audience in exchange for shared value. 

Data enrichment: Once you collect and understand your first-party data, you can upload it to enrichment tools, such as consumer survey platforms. This helps you learn more about your audience’s interests, media consumption and day-to-day behaviors. 

Cookieless Audience Targeting Alternatives

Is contextual targeting an effective cookieless targeting strategy? 

If your audience research is thorough, you will know the channels your audience frequents, their preferred devices, favorite shows, and where they are most engaged. Pair this insight with contextual placements that make sense for your ads. 

Contextual strategies fell by the wayside in the late 2010s. Many brands focused on only reaching the “perfect” deterministic, addressable audience with cookie-based data. So some marketers may fear for impression waste by comparison. However, there are now many sophisticated contextual solutions that allow for hyper-customization and reach niche interest groups

For instance, Natural Language Processing (NLP) algorithms are beginning to better understand the actual context of ad placements using artificial intelligence. This allows marketers to implement positive sentiment targeting and smarter keyword targeting. Smart contextual offerings can optimize to real-time content trends, going beyond standard display. 

Are new user identity solutions direct replacements for cookies? 

Cookieless identity solutions such as Unified ID 2.0 and Liveramp’s IdentityLink will help reach high-value segments without wasting media dollars on the wrong audiences. But, there will still be gaps. Pre-made audiences and 1:1 third party targeting will not be the same. As cookie-based information is no longer shared across the web, we’ll need to tap a few different buying strategies. I also expect walled gardens will center in on themselves more, protecting their high value audience data. 

To overcome these challenges, marketers use all the data at your disposal to understand customers better, from channel-based information, survey data, CRM analysis, Google Analytics, and more. 

Cookieless Targeting Tips

What’s your best advice to brands preparing for a cookieless future?

There’s a lot to consider, but the two simple things brands should prioritize are: 

  1. Invest in first-party data collection
  2. Start testing now 

The most important thing you can do now is establish a baseline. Then you can conduct a true study comparing your performance with and without cookies. Cover these two bases and you will be ahead of many brands. From there, you can continue to refine and adjust your research, targeting and measurement strategies as the industry evolves. 

Our team at Coegi is actively testing cookieless solutions and brainstorming innovative cookieless media plans for our clients. For more strategic insights and tips on how to prepare your digital advertising for this change, listen to our full podcast episode on cookieless targeting here

The Drum – What We Can Learn from Movie Marketing

What can the industry learn from the ways movies themselves are marketed – an area of the industry that sees some of its most creative cut-through work?

Savannah Westbrock, account strategy director at Coegi recommends: tailor assets to maximize excitement

All marketers can take cues from how the film industry has tweaked its standard playbook to bring digital and creative strategy together for the best customer experience and brand storytelling.

Consumer attention started to noticeably decline in the 2010s, and theater owners quickly caught on. They started pushing movie trailers to follow the same advice digital buyers give creative teams: shorten your videos. 2.5 minute trailers can be frustrating to sit through; and putting the same on various platforms can fatigue audiences. Thankfully, film marketers have started to improve their playbook and curate messaging for digital platforms.

Shorter ‘teaser’ trailers before the full trailer are becoming the norm; blockbusters now have multiple trailers introducing new footage to excite audiences over time. These strategies can be applied to any brand’s video strategy. For example, use six-second social media placements to tease standard ads. Or adapt your primary ad to digital video placements across social media and YouTube. Consider using sequential messaging to bring the audience through the full campaign story.

Reaching the Next Generation of Farmers

Reaching the next generation of farmers is an increasing concern in agriculture marketing. As those in the world of ag are well aware, the average age of farmers is far higher than most industries, creating concerns about the future of global production. In North America, reports indicate the average age of all farmers to be between 57 and 60, with even the newcomers to the field largely over the age of 45. However, the latest USDA census shed light on a positive trend: over a quarter of new producers were below the age of 35. 

Encouragingly, younger generations are indicating an interest in careers in agriculture. The fastest growing age range for new farmers overlaps with older Millennials and, due to demand from the younger Gen Z population, public universities have steadily increased their offerings related to agriculture, food sciences and sustainability for the past 3 years

New Opportunities For Agriculture Marketers

For agriculture marketers, this presents a fresh audience who are engaging with emerging technologies, agribusiness resources, and the modernized tools needed to shape the future of their farms. Brands who adapt their marketing strategies to reach these digitally native individuals can establish significant value for the future of their brands. 

Creating content to reach the next generation of farmers is an exciting opportunity for marketers, but don’t assume everyone in this age group is reachable with a one-size-fits-all media strategy. Though they may be united as the next generation of farmers, the current batch of “under 35s” span two generations: Millennials and Gen Z. Despite being close-ish in age, Millennials and the college-aged Gen Zs use media very differently. Agriculture marketing strategies must reflect these differences using personalized, curated approaches to reach their maximum potential.

Speaking To Millennial Farmers

 You may still picture Millennials as young adults, but they now range from being in their late twenties to early forties. So when you picture a Millennial interested in ag, you should be picturing the Millennial Farmer,” Zach Johnson, a 37-year old father of three who manages 2,600 acres and a popular YouTube account documenting farm life. Johnson and his fellow 30-somethings make up a group we would personify as the ‘Established Young Farmer’. 

They are an ideal group to reach with branded articles, invitations to industry events or webinars, and specific product and service promotions related to their farms. Though not as seasoned as their farming mentors, the Established Young Farmer is just that, established, so marketers can openly use detailed language and concrete examples of the benefits of their offerings without worrying about losing them. This audience is ideal for any advertiser wanting to highlight their offerings related to new technologies, developments in livestock medicine or crop treatments, farm finances, and farm management tools. 

Millennials have spent their entire lives adapting to new technology and are the highest educated generation to date. Many of these farmers are managing aspects of their operations that previous generations may have relied upon a business partner to handle. Additionally, this audience’s unique position of being new to the industry without being new to adulthood allows marketers the chance to speak to decision makers who are open to testing new brands and emerging technologies. 

Shift To Digital To Reach Millennial Farmers

Like their older counterparts, these Established Young Farmers are reachable via terrestrial media, but the most cost-efficient path to engagement will be tapping into the digital environments this generation is native to. They’re still active users of Facebook, but are also heavier users of newer channels like streaming audio and streaming video. Don’t forget, this is the generation who almost unanimously “cut the cord” in the 2010s, so connected TV is a better avenue to reach them than cable. There was a noted exception to this trend in rural areas as the financial barrier to dependable high-speed internet access played a key role in CTV use, but this is a decreasing concern in the 2020s as the pandemic accelerated this need.

In summary, the Millennial Established Young Farmers have a few years of experience under their belts, are open to new ideas for their farms, and are reachable with cost-efficient digital media. There’s little reason to not include them in your current marketing strategies to form a long-term relationship with the immediate next generation. For brands looking further into the future of farming, let’s discuss the Emerging Agriculturalists of Generation Z. 

Speaking To The Agriculture-Interested Gen Z

With the new farmers entering the ag workforce in their 30s and 40s, it’s not surprising to currently see little representation of Gen Z in the field. This generation spans individuals born from the late 90s through 2010, and currently owns the youth and young adult cohort of 18-24 year-olds.  Over half of Gen Zs with farm backgrounds plan to one day take over their family operations, while over 70% of Gen X farmers expect their Gen Z children to take over. 

While it’s true many Gen Zs will not enter the ag workforce whatsoever, it’s also important to consider the disciplines of study within Agtech, Biotech, and Climatology that were not available to previous generations. Knowing this group’s entryway to a career in agriculture may not be the farm, we’re calling this audience the ‘Emerging Agriculturalists’. 

The Emerging Agriculturalists are still deciding their futures after graduation. They’re in an ideal life stage to receive educational content and connect with industry professionals at events or online. Many are interested in tech-forward content and hearing professional testimonials or blogs to help them conceptualize the real world implications of emerging technologies. Interestingly, this generation has a more favorable opinion of GMOs and are less likely to sustain from animal agriculture compared to Millennials, so they may be a more receptive audience for thought leadership in these areas. 

Use Social And Video To Reach Gen Z Agriculturalists

Another key differentiator between Millennials and Gen Z’s is their social media habits. Despite its best efforts, Facebook is viewed by this group as a “Boomer social network made for old people.”  However, marketers can still take advantage of Meta’s broad reach to find Gen Z on Instagram, where they are more active.

 Video content on traditional channels, such as linear TV, may not reach Gen Z at all – they are primarily “cord-nevers,” and have spent their formative years with vertical video on social platforms like Snapchat and now, TikTok. YouTube and CTV are still viable channels for repurposing more traditional content, but marketers should embrace this generation’s preference for more authentic, influencer-style placements. Look to the hashtags #farmlife and content creators like @MommyFarmer for inspiration.  

One thing is true for both of these generations of future farmers: the digital landscape allows for many cost-efficient opportunities to serve them tailored messaging for a personal touch. Connect with a Coegi strategist to develop a curated plan to reach the next generation of farmers. 

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