Digital Strategies, Programmatic Advertising, SEO | READING TIME: 5 MINUTES | January 21, 2020

People-based marketing: accurate targeting for personalized communication

Irrelevant ads are frustrating to the receiver and bad business for the advertiser. To increase click and conversion rates for marketing campaigns, brand owners are applying increasingly personalized advertising strategies, perhaps the most personalized strategy is people-based marketing.

One of the benefits of programmatic advertising is the ability to utilize a lot of data to ensure that ads are shown to people for whom they are relevant. People-based marketing is a highly personalized approach to communicating with target audiences. The key factor in people-based marketing is to view and treat each customer as a unique entity and avoid generalization. This is also known as cross-device marketing, which allows brands to reach target customers through multiple channels.

Digital purchasing processes have given buyers a lot more control in their purchasing – they search for products and compare sellers online using several separate devices.

Traditionally, marketers have used cookies and tracking pixels to track user behavior and understand their buyers’ path to purchase. These kinds of insights can be used to broadcast ads based on general behavioral data. People-based marketing instead makes use of collected data to identify potential customers and their behavior on an individual level.

People-based marketing helps to deliver precisely targeted ad campaigns with the help of rich customer profiles generated from online and offline sources regarding users’ spending habits.

Consumers are asking for personalized, people-based marketing. According to a McKinsey study, over 70% of consumers expect to receive personalized interactions, and almost 80% identify personalized communications as something that makes them more likely to recommend a brand.

How does people-based marketing work?

An early people-based marketing initiative was Facebook Custom Audiences, which allowed advertisers to match data from their Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tools to Facebook user IDs for enhanced targeting. This soon became a popular trend with brands like Google, Twitter, Amazon, LiveRamp, etc. following suit.

Customers’ online presence can be tracked by their browsing history and engagement across different social media platforms. People-based marketing strategies make use of this data and will link it to customers’ online identity, allowing cross-device and cross-platform tracking.

Two major ways to recognize the user’s online identity are as follows:

  • Deterministic matching: An organization can identify a single user based on a unique data point, operating on multiple devices such as laptop, tab, and smart phone even while using multiple user profiles.
    For example, many platforms require you to login through your mobile number or email ID. Shopping sites for instance require the user to stay logged while placing an order even if they are using multiple devices. This could be the unique data point that helps the marketer identify the individual, irrespective of the device they are using for a specific session.
  • Probabilistic matching: This approach uses algorithms to combine disparate data points of data to identify the user.
    For example, if a user visits your site from one location, the IP location of the user’s smartphone, laptop, or tab will be the same. This allows a company to accurately identify the user even if they use different devices.

Identifying what traffic comes from the same individual lets advertisers design and deliver personalized experiences over several sessions regardless of what devices are used.

People-Based Marketing allows personalized cross-device targeting

People-based marketing enables advertisers to send customized messages at the most favorable time and to the most optimal platform to each individual recipient. According to a whitepaper by Meredith Corporation-owned Viant, 93% of marketing companies are using people-based marketing to address single-customer needs or preferences. This differs from the traditional digital marketing strategy of using general audience data.

People-based marketing allows for more meaningful interaction with the buyer as the marketer can target specific needs and reach their audience across devices.

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Key Elements of People-Based Marketing

The results from person-based marketing can vary and is dependent on certain key factors. These aspects play a pivotal role in getting results from person-based marketing strategies.


Identifying customers is fundamental to the idea of people-based marketing. Identification in this manner does not mean linking activity to a certain individual per se (e.g. using that person’s personal information). It is rather a matter of identifying common denominators in web traffic and finding out what activities have been taken by the same individual. Customers interact with several digital channels everyday and brands need to know where to look for potential customers so that they can show relevant ads to a relevant audience.


Data plays a crucial role for person-based marketing. With the large quantities of data generated online, knowing the authenticity of data is very important.

Data can be collected from first, second, or third-party data. First-party data collected in your own company is the most reliable. Some third-party data, such as third-party cookies, is being phased out, forcing advertisers to find a way to serve relevant ads without third-party cookies.

The Right Attribution Model

The large amount of data gathered needs to be normalized before it is used. This is where attribution models come in picture. It is essential to use an updated attribution model to obtain the best possible result.

Advantages of People-Based Marketing

People-based marketing is changing the digital marketing industry in ways that benefit organizations and consumers alike.

A better understanding of customers

People-based marketing allows marketers to act on better insights into customer behavior. With person-based marketing tactics, it is possible to identify the device and customize ads accordingly. For instance, since users tend to make purchases of personal items from their homes, sellers of such items could focus their marketing on smartphone and tablet users. A laptop is handier during business hours and usually used for official purchases whereas smartphones and tablets tend to be used in a more personal context.

Preparing tailored content

Having rich customer profiles benefits advertisers and consumers alike as the communication will be meaningful and relevant. When the content is more honed to the audience, the ads will be less of a nuisance.

Knowing the customers and avoiding repetition after purchase

People-based marketing helps to track the purchase cycle which will prevent targeting a customer for a particular product after the purchase is done. The interconnectivity of data regarding products purchased, and the device used for purchase makes this marketing strategy effective in avoiding showing ads for the same or similar products already purchased.

Avoiding bot traffic

People-based marketing identifies and targets real, verified people. This prevents ad fraud, where an ad is sent to a robot posing as a real person with fake identities to waste ad budgets. Showing ads to fake profiles can lead to fake impression rates of ads, and advertisers paying for impressions that cannot lead to conversions. Person-based marketing ensures that real customers are targeted.

Productive remarketing

Remarketing, or retargeting, can be done more effectively and efficiently by knowing the customer’s preference and device. Constant ads can become irritating and the user may skip them without considering the offer. This can largely be avoided with proper retargeting combined with people-based marketing.

Lead Generation

Data from people-based marketing can provide insights useful for market segmentation. Analyzing data about individual buyers will also help in identifying similar customers, to whom B2B lead generation strategies can be employed at scale.

Final Words

Tracking and analyzing the performance of online marketing efforts is essential to getting good results. Knowledge of buyers’ preferences and choices helps marketers curate the content of campaigns and ads that will appeal to the customer, thus increasing the chances of converting a potential target to a customer.

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Reza Ghazizadeh Client Success Manager Reza has' extensive" experience in digital marketing, IT, and complex business development. Leads SEO and Google Ads projects for big and small clients.

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