Closing the strategy to activation gap: using strategic growth frameworks to create advertising audiences

20 Nov 2017|Added Value


It is fair to say that some traditional segmentations may, in part, be responsible for the failing of our industry to truly close the strategy to activation gap.

But that is not to say that segmentations are dead. Far from it, in fact.

The answer lies in finding the right kind of segmentation to help you define your campaign target and then going further by creating the very audiences that your media agencies will buy.

The key is to leverage the right combination of ‘buy’, ‘what’ and ‘why’ across how people shop, consume and engage.

Only by doing this can you create the right type of segmentation to drive both strategic decision making and activation as well.

This approach enables you to plan and deliver media strategies and campaigns directly to the very people you want to reach because it is based on real-life insight into consumers’ preferences and values, media consumption, and the brands, products and services they buy.

It is easy to get lost in the vast amount of data that is now available to us which can be a hindrance not a help if not used properly.

But when the right combination of data is designed, integrated and interpreted, the results can be staggering.

We saw a 514% increase in hotel bookings when Kantar brand purchase, consideration, affinity and share of wallet data defined the target audience, and a 380% increase in coffee brand sales, when Kantar purchase behaviour and intent defined the audience.


1. The right approach needs to be carefully scoped, planned and executed.

Begin with an integrated data-ecosystem with your end goal in mind, with the following elements critical to success. You need to know:

– WHO people are. Not just basic demographics but the whole human – understanding what makes them tick and how they see themselves will help you plan both your media and your content

– HOW people buy. Knowing how people shop is critical if you are to develop effective strategy, activate that strategy and most importantly, measure the impact of this on sales

– WHAT people buy and WHY. The basis of many a segmentation over the last two decades, it needs to be far more agile and thorough. It is a mindset shift from ‘survey first’ to ‘survey last’

– WHEN, WHERE, and WHAT people engage with. Integrate engagement data into your data ecosystem before you start statistical modelling and your framework can be a springboard for both strategy and activation.


2. Break the strategy and activation silos

The right framework unites what can often be siloed teams across strategy and marketing. The challenge is to bring the right stakeholders together, creating a shared vision, with mutual goals and rewards for success.

This means strategic and commercial teams, marketing, brand and sales teams need to come together early, as do their agency partners, under strong leadership.


3. Scale, scale, scale

To define and create your audiences you need to identify the segments you want to focus on to grow. The second thing you need is the segment algorithms capable of predicting which segment any new individual or respondent will fall into.

These segment algorithms will be far more accurate if they are created of the right combination of ‘buy’, ‘what’ and ‘why’ data. Once you have your algorithms the challenge is one of scale.

To deliver growth audiences must offer scale – sufficient quantities of uniquely similar individuals together comprising discretely defined segments to deliver business performance impact.  This is achieved through lookalike modelling.


4. Lookalike modelling

In the early days of activation, lookalike modelling was something of a bad word. But they key to differentiating good lookalike modelling from bad lookalike modelling lies in data.

Lookalike models are all too often the ‘black box’ of activation, with little sense of how the models are built, what data is used, or how accurate they are.

But they are only as good as the input data with which it is built. The more behaviourally discriminating and granular the input data is, the greater the accuracy and more predictive the lookalike model will be.


5. Create a closed-loop optimisation system

Beyond creating your audiences it is important you have the ability to track your progress against your strategy.

The same segment algorithms created to scale your audiences can be leveraged in brand equity, comms and sales tracking to create an ongoing optimisation system, where strategy feeds into activation, and then the results of that activation feed right back into strategy.



The marketing industry has been talking about closing the strategy to activation gap for many years.

The data ecosystems we can define today now enable us to create a completely seamless connection from strategy to activation, where audiences reflect a truly whole human understanding, and can be identified, activated and tracked through a dynamic and ongoing optimisation system.

It is a goal that is now within reach, if you have the right data, the right segmentation model, and the right team to help you activate it.


Written by Nina Rahmatallah, Deputy Managing Director of Kantar Added Value UK and Katie Casavant, CEO of Kantar Shopcom and Kantar Activate.

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