How Agencies and Advertisers Can Target Relevant Audiences During Covid-19

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A recent study from the IAB shows that advertisers are adjusting quickly and decisively to the effects of Covid-19. Nearly 40% of marketers are increasing their investment in audience targeting to take advantage of more limited and more fluid consumer behavior.

According to Kantar, consumers are okay with that. More than 90% of consumers think brands should continue advertising during the crisis. These data points bode well for agencies that are trying to convince their clients that advertising dollars shouldn’t go unspent.

However, data and logic don’t always drive actual behavior. Advertisers are still feeling apprehensive about spending money, and tight budgets call for optimizing ad spend. One of the ways agencies are leveraging audience targeting capabilities is through geo-targeting at the brand and store levels — with many using custom polygons to target locations that remain open and highly relevant during the outbreak. Consumers making their way to specific locations are clearly in-market for a range of goods and services. 

This is certainly the case with restaurants. Since establishments have limited services to take-out, pick-up or delivery, advertisers are creating geofences where they know consumers are still going. Rather than using the actual footprint of a restaurant, advertisers can use custom polygons to include the pick-up area in the parking lot or the QSR’s drive-through area.

Getting creative to find restaurant audiences is just the tip of the iceberg, however. Even when large portions of the population are staying home, there are ways to find and advertise to audiences that are high-intent in a range of consumer categories. There are several commercial and public locations that you can target to help find audiences that are relevant to your clients and your campaigns. Below I detail optimal strategies for major categories of brick-and-mortar physical businesses.

Home Improvement and Hardware Store Visitors

People who are shopping at home improvement stores are looking to tackle their household projects to-do list. These people are ideal targets for brands that sell furniture and home décor. Home improvement store shoppers are DIYers, so they may be an effective audience for craft-oriented brands to target as well.  

Gas Station Visitors

Under normal circumstances, everyone who drives a vehicle visits gas stations, which makes capturing a specific demographic difficult from this audience. However, during the Covid-19 outbreak when many people are working from home, those who are frequenting gas stations are likely to be employees of essential businesses.

Restaurants that provide carry-out may want to reach this audience so they can offer their services during work shifts. Advertisers who want to reach doctors and nurses may want to target these visitors. There are many companies offering healthcare workers, postal workers, and other essential workers special discounts. Advertisers can reach them by creating audiences from gas station visitors.

Parks and Trail Visitors

The people who visit parks and trails during the lockdown likely value physical fitness and the great outdoors. Visitors to parks and trails make a great audience for brands such as outdoor equipment and apparel, fitness centers, and gyms. Marketers who advertise vacations for outdoor enthusiasts or destination travelers, such as national parks or the Grand Canyon, could also find value in an audience of visitors to parks and trails, especially once lockdowns begin to loosen.

Grocery Store Visitors

Brands that offer grocery or home goods delivery can target those still shopping in stores. Building an audience of those who are visiting grocery stores will ensure you are getting critical messages out to a wide array of audiences. 

Pet Supply Store Visitors

Like grocery stores, pet supply stores are essential businesses and remain open. Advertisers who want to target pet owners can easily find an addressable audience from pet supply store visitors. Pet food brands, groomers, and pet adoption organizations can target this in-market audience.

Liquor Store Visitors

Liquor stores are busier than ever. According to the New York Post, spirits sales in the US are up 75% over last year and wine and beer sales are up 66% and 42%, respectively. Targeting people who visit liquor stores makes a meaningful audience for advertisers of online alcohol sales. It’s also an ideal audience for local breweries and wine makers who want to promote their in-store brands and labels. This is a prime opportunity to find new customers and keep up with current customers. 

Truck Rental Location Visitors

With interest rates at a historic low, people are buying and selling houses and need moving trucks, equipment, and supplies. Those who are visiting truck rental centers are those who likely need household essentials — furniture, dishes, paint, lawn care supplies, bedding, home decor, and the like. Advertisers for low-cost household items such as trash cans, shower curtains, and paper towel holders might consider targeting these audiences as well. 

Laura Conway is the marketing manager at Reveal Mobile, a provider of location-based analytics, audiences, and attribution software.