The Two Princes: how programmatic needs to become more personality-based with data
The Two Princes: how programmatic needs to become more personality-based with data
A view from Jon Hewson

Two princes, one advert, no winners: the programmatic problem

With Prince Charles and the Prince of Darkness Ozzy Osbourne both being demographically similar, are we sometimes over reliant on demographics in programmatic asks Jon...

Picture this: a luxury car brand serves the same advert to two British men aged 65-69. Both are the same age, both are wealthy, both like sports cars and dogs, and both enjoy holidaying in the Alps. According to the principles of traditional behavioural and demographic segmentation, the two men should respond similarly to the advert.

Programmatic advertising as it stands today - assessing the value of impressions based on demographic and online behavioural data - offers us no other way to tell them apart

Except that in this case, the two men are the Prince of Darkness, Ozzy Osbourne and the Prince of Wales, Charles.

The two Princes

Clearly, a message that appeals to the Prince of Darkness will have a very different effect on the Prince of Wales. For a start, Ozzy might favour a glossy black Ferrari with a formidable sound system, tinted windows and lustrous 20" alloy wheels, while Charles may opt for something a little less showy but a little more robust, perhaps with a 5* safety rating and the ultimate seal of approval: a British manufacturer.

Although both men are - technically - royalty, in many ways the similarity ends there. However, programmatic advertising as it stands today - assessing the value of impressions based on demographic and online behavioural data - offers us no other way to tell them apart.

The age of smart data

In a world where bidding for the impressions of increasingly impatient audiences now happens in real-time, brands merely have seconds to make an impact, and if adverts reach Ozzy when they should be targeting Charles, a campaign is bound to stall. Big Data has immense volume and reach, but it also has to be relevant – vast amounts of information become redundant if they don’t help you understand your audience. At VisualDNA, we believe that this is the age of Smart Data.

Consumers react far better to messages that align with their unique character traits, an approach that is far more likely to tap into what really motivates the individuals behind the screens

Enter the new wave of programmatic: combining traditional demographic segmentation with the missing piece of the puzzle, personality-driven campaigns.

Consumers react far better to messages that align with their unique character traits, an approach that is far more likely to tap into what really motivates the individuals behind the screens. In fact, in direct contrast to much of what goes on in the current programmatic advertising industry, personality is a far more accurate and consistent measure of how and why people buy things, rather than age, location, and marital or financial status.

The OCEAN Big Five

The "OCEAN Big Five" is a well-known term in the psychology industry and describes the five broad personality types that humans fall into – Openness, Conscientiousness, Extroversion, Agreeableness and Neuroticism. By using these personality data points to group an audience, it is possible to get a far more robust indication as to how they are likely to behave than by using demographic data alone.

For example, a person with a tendency towards high openness and receptiveness is far more likely to be an early adopter of technology, and can be targeted accordingly.

Personality-driven programmatic

In the case of our two princes, Ozzy Osbourne could conceivably veer towards extroversion and impulsiveness, while Prince Charles may be more conscientious. The Prince of Darkness, then, would be most likely to respond to advertising which highlights the uniqueness and rarity of a product, for example, "Limited edition!", but the Prince of Wales should be served adverts which promote its positive moral features, such as "responsibly sourced components".

Demographic data does have its place in modern programmatic – but it shouldn’t be the sum-total point of reference that we use to find our target audience. As demonstrated by Ozzy and Charles, just because two men in their 60s both enjoy luxury sports cars, we can’t assume they’ll be interested in any of the same features.  Demographics need to become seen as merely the first step on the journey to distilling a swathe of the population down into the right segments, with personality-driven programmatic leading the way forward.