12 types of target audience (and how to use them successfully)
You’ve got a killer brand or product, and you know it can succeed—providing you get it onto the radar of the right people, in the right place, at the right time. Easier said than done. Or is it?
Every successful ad campaign is aimed at a specific target audience where the chance of conversion is higher and more predictable. In this guide, we’ll help you understand how to identify and comprehend your market, and introduce you to several types of target audience segments to help you plan Spotify Advertising campaigns that get results.
First thing’s first: what’s a target audience, anyway?
It’s essential to understand that while the terms ‘target market’ and ‘target audience’ are often used interchangeably, they are not the same. Your target market is the entire set of customers you plan to reach, while target audience categories are narrower subsets of that entire market group. For example, if you sell language courses online, your target market is everyone who wants to learn a new language or develop their existing linguistic skills. Examples of target audience segments, on the other hand, would be people who are looking specifically for beginner courses in French, advanced courses in Spanish, or refresher courses in German.
A defined list of target markets is vital for marketers, but even more important is knowing the attributes and habits of different target audiences. No matter what you’re selling, these factors should impact every decision at every stage of your marketing strategy, helping you select the correct communication mediums and design custom campaigns that increase conversions.
There are several ways you can define target audiences: segmenting by demographics, behavioral traits, or—if advertising with Spotify—listening habits and interests, for example. Identifying the correct target audience types for each campaign is a crucial step towards success.
The importance of understanding your target audience
Before pressing play on any new marketing campaign, it’s vital you know exactly who you want to target. Having a complete customer profile in place will help you choose the types of target audience that are most likely to respond to your marketing efforts. In contrast, casting your net as wide as possible and hoping for the best isn’t likely to lead to results. Every year, it’s estimated that $37 billion is wasted on ads that fail to engage the target audience—and that’s largely down to this fast-and-loose strategy.1
In addition to increasing sales and ROI, paying attention to specific audience types builds brand affinity because you can develop ads that align directly with a particular segment’s interests and values. Getting this part of your advertising strategy right is crucial—studies show that 80% of consumers prefer buying from companies offering personalized content.2
How to identify your target audience
In terms of overall strategy, developing a list of target markets is primarily a marketing function and relates to your entire digital marketing plan. Deciding which types of target audience to focus on is an advertising function that relates to each individual campaign. You may already have different target audiences in mind for different campaigns. Or maybe you’re only just getting started. Either way, you can identify them by following these steps:
Examine your existing customer base
Take your existing customer base as a whole and look for ways to break that market down into different segments based on shared characteristics, behaviors, and traits.
Figure out who your audience isn’t
Knowing who you don’t want to target is equally important as pinpointing those you do. By using advanced filters you’ll be able to remove people from campaigns and communications who you don’t think will be receptive to your ads.
Research industry trends
Take regular peeks at what your competitors are doing, and stay on top of both current trends and upcoming industry shifts that could impact how your audience interacts and engages with your ads.
Create buyer personas
A buyer persona is a fictionalized representation of who your customers are. At Spotify Advertising, we can help you find your people and build a buyer persona with data-driven audience targeting. You’ll need to think carefully about:
- Demographics: age, location, gender, and language preferences, etc.
- Behaviors: listeners' interests, streaming preferences, and fan bases.
- Context: music, genres, device type, platform usage, podcast episode topics, etc.
12 Target Audience Types
Studies reveal that tailored ads can increase ROI by up to eight times.3 So it makes sense to target your ads where they’ll get the most traction. The good news is that people listen to Spotify almost everywhere—in the car, at the gym, in the office, even in the shower.4 By taking a listener-first approach with audio ads, you can reach people on their terms, wherever they are.
Every target audience ought to be as finely tuned as an acoustic guitar, but broadly speaking the most common types of target audiences in advertising campaigns are broken down into 12 categories, which we’ve listed below. For some, we’ve included specific target audience advertising examples so you can better understand how to segment the various types of listeners you can reach with Spotify Advertising.
Anyone with a basic grasp of marketing principles will know a broad, one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t often lead to results. But very large companies with a high market share might still choose to market to everyone. For example, a gaming company might do this since every listener could be a potential customer, as they are already active on digital media platforms and may be looking for more entertainment options
2. Existing customers
Targeting existing customers is a more straightforward and cost-effective sales tactic than pursuing new target audiences. You can increase your revenue, expand your business, and establish your brand by running ads that offer upgrades to premium services. Plus, existing loyal customers are a great source of generating new leads through referrals and recommendations.
3. Your target market
Your target market is the entire (unsegmented) pool of customers that could be potential buyers of your products and services. For example, if you sell insurance, it’s possible that any listener over the age of 18 could be a potential customer and respond to an unpersonalized ad.
Learn how LinkedIn teamed up with Spotify Advertising to promote their online video course offering, LinkedIn Learning, to their entire target market—business professionals between the ages of 21-45—in order to help people boost their skills and attain career goals.
Subcultures represent groups of people with a common set of values based on sharing an experience or interest—like festival goers, fans of the same soccer team, or loyal consumers of an iconic brand. For example, footwear brand Dr. Martens has—in over a century of existence— built a loyal customer base of young people who identify as ‘rebellious’ and ‘subversive’, whether in their fashion sense or taste in music. Quite unexpecetedly, the iconic boot became a staple of British youth subculture, and continues to be today. If your product or service is strongly associated with a particular subculture—like the one embraced by lovers of the Dr. Martens brand—you could already have a ready-made target audience to tap into.
“Supercultures” are large groups of people who interact with each other across multiple nations based on their shared passion for a particular subject or activity. On Spotify, these target audience examples include listeners who bond over a particular type of music like jazz or reggaeton, or non-music related activities like scuba diving, rock climbing, or cosplay.
Demographics are the building blocks of most targeted marketing campaigns. They encompass a range of characteristics, including age, gender, ethnicity, income, education, marital status, and occupation. You can easily use all these factors to your advantage. For example, if you’re advertising high-end products or services for families, your ideal target audience type would be high-earning listeners who are married with children.
Learn how Italian eatery chain La Piadineria reached their goal of amplifying brand reach across multiple audience segments, targeting demographics like age and location, and interests like food and leisure activities.
Targeting by location offers the fastest track to your intended audience, whether you represent a small, medium-sized or large brand. On a local level, location targeting allows you to filter ads so that only people in locations geographically close to your business see them. Likewise, on an international scale, ads can be set up so that they only reach customers in countries where they can successfully make a purchase. It’s instant value like this that makes location one of the most commonly used target audience types.
Discover how moving company TWO MEN AND A TRUCK™ were able to effectively target podcast listeners in areas of the US where they offered their junk removal service.
With enough information, it’s possible to target ads based on the specific needs of listeners. For example, local department stores could target known parents in the lead-up to schools reopening to promote stationary and ‘back-to-school’ clothing and accessories.
9. Attitudes and opinions
Tapping into how people think and feel about a particular topic can create powerful advertising campaigns that resonate on an emotional level. For example, charities and nonprofits may focus their fundraising ads on audience types who are already environmentalists or proactive human and animal rights supporters.
10. Personal interests
Spotify’s self-serve Ad Studio lets advertisers target people with personal interests that may match the tone of their product or service. For example, a new smartwatch by a wearable tech brand could be aimed at listeners who frequently listen to Running or Workout playlists.
Find out how water product brand GROHE used audio ads to effectively target millennials with interests in DIY, Hobbies & Crafts, Sports & Recreation, Health & Lifestyle, and Fitness.
Targeting by lifestyle allows advertisers to reach customers based on how they spend their time. For example, a car brand advertising with Spotify could target listeners who frequently listen in-car and drive long distances, whether to get to and from work or because they like road trips.
Targeting fans of particular musicians, genres, or entertainment series is a reliable way to sell similar products and services. For instance, listeners who live and breathe jazz music might be more open to an ad about a local jazz festival, or an ad about an unrelated product but backed with a jazz soundtrack.
Learn how MIDE, the Interactive Museum of Economics in Mexico, tapped Spotify Ad Studio to target young fans of reggaetón music and deliver a message that sparked interest in economics at an early age.
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1. Marketing Evolution: Waste in Advertising: Mitigate Ad Fraud and Improve ROI in a Global Market
2. Epsilon: The power of me: The impact of personalization on marketing performance
3. McKinsey Study: Personalizing at Scale
4. Spotify & Kantar: TNS Research, US Age=16-64, 2020; Spotify Free Users-Weekly Reach