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. 

 

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. 

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 third party 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 to prepare for seamless audience activation using cookieless targeting methods. 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, within ad tech today, 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 targeting offerings can optimize to real-time content trends, going beyond standard display. 

Are new cookieless identity solutions direct replacements for cookie-based targeting? 

Cookieless identity solutions such as Unified ID 2.0, led by The Trade Desk, Liveramp IdentityLink, and Lotame Panorama ID, 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 third party cookie identity resolution is no longer shared across the web, advertisers will need to tap a few different targeting and 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, publishers, 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 digital marketers 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 identity solution options 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 in consumer privacy, listen to our full podcast episode on cookieless targeting here

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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