Advanced Audience Targeting on a Small Marketing Budget

By Steve Tobias and Isabela Fit, Media, IRI

When it comes to marketing budgets, small and medium businesses (SMBs) can’t match their larger, deeper-pocketed competitors. To compete effectively, they need to make every dollar work harder and smarter. Better technology and data solutions that support more precise audience targeting and cost-effective digital advertising can be keys to making it happen.

In the latest edition of the Small and Medium Business Trends Report from Salesforce, 39% of SMBs say they have accelerated their investment in marketing technologies. Growing SMBs, in particular, understand the importance of these investments, with 50% of these companies saying they are investing more in audience targeting and other marketing technologies. They are also investing heavily in digital campaigns. Industry experts predict strong global advertising market growth in 2022 of 9% or more, with much of that attributable to digital ad spending by SMBs.

While SMBs appreciate the power of marketing technologies and are willing to invest in them, some smaller companies still believe that data-driven advertising solutions are inaccessible from a budgetary perspective. Thankfully, this is no longer the case.

Intuitive, Effective Audience Targeting is Within Reach

Industry research has consistently found that media activated with purchase behavior-based audiences achieves stronger sales lift (3-4x) and at least a 20% higher ROAS than media activated through other channels. IRI Verified Audiences harnesses data from more than 500 million first-party shopper loyalty cards, 120 million of them exclusive to IRI. We have data for 85% of U.S. households, across all 50 states and in 95% of all DMAs.

The IRI Audiences solution takes this robust purchase data that large, sophisticated CPGs rely upon and makes it readily accessible to SMBs. Its intuitive self-service portal gives businesses of any size the ability to easily access and personalize this data to their needs. This functionality makes leading-edge audience-based targeting — and more effective campaigns — possible for even the smallest businesses.

Efficient Digital Execution is Key

The media buying firm GroupM expects digital advertising spending to account for 72% of the overall advertising pie by 2026, more than double digital’s ad share in 2016. This is good news for SMBs too. Highly targeted digital ads informed by real purchase-based data enable companies that could never afford large TV, radio or out-of-home advertising campaigns to cost-effectively reach new prospects, boost new customer retention and build loyalty through highly personalized and relevant digital messages and offers.

IRI Audiences for Middle Market makes running effective digital campaigns:

  • Easy: Achieve complete automation via a single, secure webpage. Size and create audiences from the industry’s largest and most accurate data set and have them delivered directly to your Facebook account in just a few clicks.
  • Fast: Create audiences within a few minutes and have them ready for digital activation in as little as five business days.
  • Accessible: Leverage the largest CPG dataset in the industry, with no minimum spend thresholds required to activate a campaign.

Adopting this technology doesn’t have to be a huge investment or major commitment. You can use it for a single campaign, or as part of a larger test-and-learn initiative that enables you to continually improve your targeting and digital marketing results. With this approach, you can bring the inherent agility that is a recognized strength of many SMBs to your audience targeting too.

By using purchase-based audience targeting to inform digital media activation, budget-strapped SMBs can enjoy the dual benefits of higher ROAS and enhanced personalization. Following are a few recent examples of SMBs that have had success with this approach.

SMB Case Study No. 1: The Niche Egg Company

A niche specialty egg company with less than 5 UPCs in distribution was looking to increase awareness of those products in the DMAs in which the eggs had distribution. The company used IRI Verified Audiences purchased through the self-service portal to create a target audience of verified buyers of free-range eggs in Ohio and Indiana DMAs who had purchased eggs more than five times in the past year.

This approach enabled the brand to save marketing dollars by targeting only actual relevant egg buyers in the markets where it had distribution through digital campaigns, reducing impression-related costs. The egg supplier improved its ROAS by 20% versus previous campaigns. Pleased with the results, the company plans to use IRI Verified Audiences for future campaigns and as part of any product expansion to new DMAs.

SMB Case Study No. 2: The Granola Maker

A mid-market manufacturer of granola bars sought to grow share in specific DMAs where its product had recently received increased shelf space and distribution. Using IRI Verified Audiences, it created two separate audiences for those DMAs: one of verified buyers of the brand and another of medium and heavy buyers in the granola bar category.

Using this approach, the granola maker increased sales to dedicated category buyers, driving incremental brand penetration. It also successfully re-engaged lapsed buyers of the brand. As a result, the brand experienced a 3.2% incremental lift in household penetration and achieved 9% greater sales lift compared to its legacy targeting techniques.

Break Through Without Breaking the Bank

It can be hard to reach, retain and engage customers in a world where consumers are hit with thousands of marketing messages every day. Precise audience targeting and highly relevant digital ads are potent tools in this landscape. They give SMB marketers the power to rise above the clutter and deliver outsize results on a modest budget.

Want to learn more about how to improve your media targeting and activation using IRI Audiences solutions? Contact for sign-in information to enjoy free access to the IRI self-service portal today.

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