What are the 3 biggest changes media planners have made due to the rise of fragmented audiences?

During a time where technology and the media landscape is everchanging and with new platforms popping up left right and centre, how can advertisers and media planners keep up with the how and where to target their audiences? It seems important that in such a quickly shifting environment it is important to be able to take a step back and reassess what your target market is, to optimise the content.

What are fragmented Audiences?

To understand what changes media planners have had to make over the years, It’s important to understand what a fragmented audience is. “Fragmentation is a broad term used to describe the transition of a population from one comprised of few large audiences for any one media product to another comprised of more numerous smaller audiences” (Tewkbury 2011).

There are currently four recognised types of mass media:

1) Print Media (Magazines, Newspapers)

2) Broadcast Media (TV, Radio)

3) Out of Home (OOH) Media.

4) Internet.

These areas may not seem like many, but within these main four, there is a vast number of sub-media providing new technological capabilities (Riles et al. 2017) which have emerged, now that audiences have developed a more specific taste into topics and have splintered into separate tribes. Tribes “is the process of segmenting audiences based on shared beliefs, affinities and interests, instead of clustering by demographics such as age and gender” (Segura 2020).

1) Starting small

When delivering to fragmented audiences, bigger brands with deeper pockets, are less likely to struggle when attempting to spread a budget across multiple platforms. However, smaller brands may struggle (Telford 2022). With target audiences having to be revised, media planners are now having to work bottom up as “audiences are no longer definable in simple demographic terms – they must be understood on psychographic and behavioural levels” (Kuefler 2019). Psychographic segmentation has been a useful asset, it allows for a deeper understanding into your target markets attitudes, interests, personality, values, opinions, and lifestyle (Birkett 2020). By carrying this out, you are then creating building blocks for your brand which will then further your relationship with consumers. (Andjelic 2022).

2) Growing through Niches

As media consumption habits continue to change, especially with the number of platforms available. Media planners have learnt to understand their brands target market and which media is best to connect on a chosen platform. Understanding your own brands signature aesthetic has become a vital part of personalising content to market towards these different niche tribes. With technology advancements, Artificial Intelligence (AI) can now play a huge role to help media planners customise content to target micro groups that may no longer be a part of mass media, such as TV broadcasts or print media. (Feldwick, 2020). With trends in the forefront of minds for most social users, it has become apparent that the idea of targeting content to an individual, who then influences the people around them through likes and similarities in taste, goes on to create what is known as social clusters (Harvey 2014). This can be a useful tool in targeting content over multiple platforms as we are living in an increasingly connected world, which allows us to be the social creatures we are designed to be.

3) Changing of data analysis

When creating an omni-channel campaign, as a media planner it has become important to create solid, specific and measurable key performance indicators (KPI’s) for content to be optimised and reach its full potential. With tech giants such as google and Facebook operating something called a ‘walled garden’ approach, where the owner of the platform has full control of data, makes it increasingly hard to track across omni-channel campaigns, although becomes useful when using just their own platform for analysis (Cision 2022).

How can these changes help?

These changes combined, allow media planners to develop brands further and make it possible to target consumers permitting more diversity and inclusion than ever before. Starting again and realising what your brand is, who you are targeting, and how it will be measured, will be a great starting block to a successful campaign. Going forward, this can be rolled out across relevant channels and to the right audiences.