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Create Campaigns That Are the Cat’s Meow

Linda HarrisonAugust 01, 2019

What is it about pets and the internet?  Cat videos and memes are some of the most viewed content on the web.  Advertisers know a good thing when they see it and have long used cats and cute puppies to pull at our heartstrings.  I mean who doesn’t get teary-eyed seeing dogs leaping for joy when a soldier returns home? I’m no exception; I’m all in for my four-legged family members.  I share my home office with three dogs who have an uncanny knack for interrupting conference calls and two cats, who proudly bring me “presents.” Yes, I once screamed “rat!” during a client call.  

My four-legged coworkers inspire me, though, to consider how a brand or agency can leverage our love of pets on the internet for more successful marketing campaigns.  

First, it’s pretty important to get the personalization right.  I bought online medications for my cat Gypsy like 15 years ago, and I still get emails from the company with her name included.  Unfortunately, Gypsy has long since crossed the rainbow bridge, and the company should probably know it. I supplied Gypsy’s age (10) when I initially ordered the medicine.  A 25-year-old cat is getting close to world record level. The point is that unless you know the pet is alive and kicking, personalization may not be your best choice. I still tear up when I see those reminders (softie that I am), and I’m guessing that’s not the reaction the company desires.

Second, get the targeting right.  A spray-and-pray approach to marketing may be cheap, but it’s not always effective.  Sending dog-specific products and services for instance to people who don’t own a dog is just wasted marketing.  Using data can help, of course. Many data providers use predictive models to determine who is most likely to own a pet.  Predictive models are all well and good. I love them and use them for targeting every day. BUT, I would suggest first using known data, then augment that with predictive data.  Known data like that used in InfoBase is often less expensive than predictive models, so you essentially get a win-win – better targeting, cheaper. Then you can add additional scale if you need it, at a slightly higher price.

Third, do additional targeting besides just pet ownership.  Specificity is your friend in the online pet world. Do you want people to buy a specific brand or via a specific channel?  Are you selling pet costumes for Halloween? Use that information on the front end to target online pet buyers vs. in-store generic brand buyers.  The point is that the more information provided about the campaign at the outset delivers better recommendations and segmentation.

Fourth, do something custom if you can.  The Data Guru team at Acxiom can help you build that univariate – simple selects strung together with and/or – segment or something even fancier.  Yes, we’ll help you sell a diamond collar for Fifi if you’ve sold some in the past. Custom models can be created using your first-party data. Within a week to 10 days, you’ll have a predictive audience built from your best customers.  Your product is unique and should be targeted that way.

Finally, the old wash, rinse, repeat mantra from the back of your shampoo bottle rings true.  But in this case it’s test, learn, iterate, and it’s a vital process to improve campaign performance. 

Cat videos show no signs of relinquishing their dominance of the internet, but to harness this fascination for better marketing it’s wise to not “leap” to conclusions about what’s really working and what’s not.