High-Value Ways to Activate on First-Party Audiences

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Privacy laws will continue to shape the programmatic landscape into a cookieless environment that will require contemporary ways for advertisers to think about their programmatic media buying. Adswerve is here to provide Display & Video 360 (DV360) expertise to help brands and marketers engineer a value-exchange buyer blueprint necessary in the shifting land of privacy-compliant rules and regulations. Here are some key ways you can begin activating on your first-party audiences. 

Using Seed Audiences to Activate on Prospecting Tactics

Start to enrich your media activation with robust first-party audience tactics by mimicking the digital funnel within the media planning selection. First-party audiences not only serve as a means of remarketing but can also bolster your everyday strategies. Methodically building off existing data allows for a more concentrated and purposeful audience composition within your programmatic buying schema that can help you incrementally see a positive return on your ad spend. 

Take, for instance, an advertiser’s Page Visitor similar audience. Whether the similar audience is constructed in DV360 or Campaign Manager 360 (CM360), this similar or lookalike audience takes existing data and finds new, qualified consumers who have shared interests similar to the seed audience. This segment is powerful when incorporating mid-funnel strategies within the advertiser’s prospecting targeting. 

Ideally, you’re already leveraging higher-funnel tactics like affinity and in-market audiences within the overall media plan, but a sneaky way to elevate these audiences is combining these segments with similar audiences using the combined toggle on the audience tab in DV360 (at the partner or advertiser level). 

DV360 UI screenshot showing how to mix and match audiences in DV360's "include" section.

Pro tip: Head over to the Combined audience section and determine what the size of the seed audience for the similar audience will be. (We recommend you use one of the existent or action-oriented audiences). 

If your seed audience is fairly small (less than 25K users), be sure to pull a larger in-market or affinity audience or multiple (Google’s catalog has layers of segments) at the highest segment order, rather than selecting categories further under the umbrella of a larger audience. The In-Market or affinity audience can be smaller if the seed, or multiple seed audiences, are medium-to-large in user size.

You can always mix-and-match and play with a good variety of combinations to find the ultimate secret sauce and watch as it empowers the predictive mechanisms to make desirably more informed decisions once activated. However, keep in mind the goal is to refine these segments and not completely cut out valuable prospects.

Targeting Combined Audiences on a Line Item

Once some of these segment combinations have been selected, be sure the seed audience and affinity/in-market are utilizing the ‘AND’ Boolean logic statement and then name the combined audience. 

When creating a new line item, add all targeting parameters as usual and add the newly created combined audience. If there are certain audiences that need to be suppressed exclude these audiences within the line item details instead of the combined section. The targeting expansion slider will appear, and you should slide this to a sizable level (Note: Employing an affinity or in-market audience will also expand the audience itself along with the similar audience when activated on the line item). 

The most important part of this technical activation is making sure to check the “Exclude first-party audiences that were used for expansion” box (see below). Always be cognizant of the overall audience size after you’ve plugged in targeting criteria and adjust as needed by adding more in-market/affinity audiences or more seed audiences. 

Other ways to activate lookalike audiences in tandem with conventional strategies are listed below in the prospecting section. This is comparable to a popular strategy that can be created in other platforms, like The Trade Desk.

Screenshot of DV360 UI showing where to add similar/lookalike lists.
DV360 screenshot showing area where you can find the option to exclude first-party lists when targeting similar/lookalike audiences.
DV360 screenshot showing checkbox to exclude first-party lists when targeting similar/lookalike audiences.

Pro-Tip: For an extra layer of protection, exclude the seed audience(s) so there is no overlap with any retargeting strategies running simultaneously.

Combined Audiences Strategies for Prospecting 

  • (One or Multiple) affinity/in-market + Lookalike
  • Proximity (or Geo) + Lookalike
  • Category + Lookalike
  • Multiple Page Visits Lookalike (Combined) 
    • If the content on certain pages is relevant to one another, group them
    • If you have Google Analytics, leverage Data-Driven Retargeting in tandem
  • Lookalike(s) + Keywords
    • Tier keywords for more advanced setup
  •  Sitelist + Lookalike

Retargeting Strategies

Finally, let’s talk about the fundamental intention for first-party audiences: retargeting. In the lower funnel, there are different goals and objectives for every advertiser. Interacting with an advertiser’s current user base creates an experience that is more personalized and can deliver messaging unique to the advertiser’s goals. Deciding the media configuration of these retargeting strategies will depend on how sufficient the list is and how readily it can be activated. You can target their users to build an advanced framework within your programmatic media plan and create custom considerations for the consumers and funnel audiences to engage more or convert. 

If you are starting out in DV360 or programmatic in general, you might find that it’s best to start with a crawl, walk, run approach when building out these audiences. Take a look at the existent, action-oriented and customer journey workflows below. Use these setups as an influential guide for testing what strategies work best to improve conversions or engagement and support current prospecting tactics. 

If this is a new campaign with little architecture in place, start with the existing users. Create customer lists or tag-based audiences and bucket consumers into different audiences so they can be appropriately targeted or suppressed. Nurture these users for retention and to encourage customer loyalty. 

Leveling up would incorporate users’ actions. This can include certain conditions that are taken, such as clicking on a certain button, spending a certain amount of time on the site or being a qualified first-time customer. Lastly, if the advertiser has clearly defined goals, understands its user behaviors, has the proper structure in place and wants to really strengthen its retargeting functionality, consider using a more sophisticated setup that walks through the customer journey in targeting and suppressing audience segments. Below are common archetypes that can help you attain more efficient KPIs such as CPA and ROAS that allow for more control and flexibility when allocating budget.

Existent Retargeting or Suppression 

  • Active customer/advertiser list
  • Passive customer/advertiser list
  • Inactive customer/advertiser list
  • Active/Avid Purchasers
  • Recent purchasers
  • Passive Purchasers
  • Inactive Purchasers
  • Newsletter Subscribers 
  • Returning Visitor

Action-Oriented or Engagement Retargeting or Suppression 

  • Lead forms submit/Thank you page
  • Navigation Bar/Button click(s)
  • Time on Site
  • New Visitor
  • First-Time Purchasers
  • Campaign click/Impression Served

Customer Journey Retargeting or Suppression 

  • Sign Up, No Conversion
  • Page visit, No Conversion
  • Page visit, Step 1, No Step 2
  • Product page visit, No add-to-cart
  • Add to Cart, No Purchase (Cart Abandoners)
  • Lead form start, No Submit

If you have any questions about first-party activation, please reach out to our programmatic team of experts; we’re happy to help.