When you’re trying to decide which audience is best suited for your consumption, it’s best to look at your decision similar to how you would choose an eating establishment.
I typically ask myself the following questions when choosing a place to eat. Funny enough, these questions also work very well when choosing audiences.
Is their food fresh? Like expired food leads to a bad meal, out of date audiences lead to poor program performance. A fresh audience, that is recently active, is the best type of audience because they are more likely to be influenced by relevant offers.
Are the ingredients unique? Unique ingredients lead to surprising combinations that mark some of the most memorable meals I’ve ever had. Similarly, a unique data set can reveal audience intent signals that can’t be revealed through any other means. If you can capitalize on that intent by messaging that person with the right offer, you’ll benefit from memorable performance.
Are there many other people trying to eat at the place I want to eat at? If all of my competitors can message my same audience, they most likely will. That also means that my message is likely to get lost in a sea of other offers. Ideally, I want an audience my competition can’t reach because my message has a higher chance of being noticed.
Fine dining restaurants are similar to 1st party audiences. They are exclusive, they are expensive, they are unique, and they have the freshest ingredients and make a lasting impact. These audiences are typically the most valuable and coveted audiences but it also means they are harder to access and oftentimes very expensive.
Local mom and pop restaurants are similar to 2nd party audiences. Everyone has a favorite local restaurant. They are familiar; you may see your friends or family eating there. They are more widely available than fine dining establishments, and while they offer fresh ingredients they’re still not quite at the level of fine dining. A great option for every day use.
Quick service restaurants are similar to 3rd party data. They are designed to appeal to the largest customer set possible. They vary widely in quality and freshness, are very easy to buy but provide minimal lasting impact. Many question the value of their ingredients but much of the market can't live without them.
The biggest difference between choosing audiences and restaurants is that you can choose many different audiences for the same program where as you typically only choose one restaurant per meal.
If you want a special, unique audience that few others have access to, choose 1st party data. Err on the side of 2nd party data to be in the company of friendly brands who are looking to message a highly qualified, shared audience. And when choosing to go with 3rd party data, go with those whose ingredients have been carefully selected to add an additional layer of scale to your audience buy.