As a Junior Copywriter in the Sydney office of J Walter Thompson the Creative Director Bryce Courtney impressed upon me the importance of identifying the “Target Audience”. This message was further reinforced by the Associate Creative Director and my Copy Chief, Mr. Arthur D. Hankin, aka “Hank”.
In those times a client might describe his Target Audience as “people aged 15 to 75”. He wanted to sell to everyone! The ad agency experts would then suggest a more precise TA - “Women aged 19 to 35years” or “Men 25 to 49years” – explaining we have to use a rifle, not a shot gun.
“Hank” would soon poo-pah such wide parameters. He’d puff hard on his Henry Wintermans Long Panatella, take a big sip of Bodega Sparkling and say “Your Target audience is Mary, she’s 21, lives with her parents in Strathfield; she has a boyfriend named Carl; likes classical music but thinks Paul McCartney is cute. Mary has a puppy called Sam, - she wanted to call him Ralph but it reminded her of a loud mouthed, fat man on TV”…eventually Hank would create a complete profile of Mary. By that time I would think I had met her, maybe I sat next to her on the number 526 bus she took to her work???
The years rolled by and Target Audience parameters became more narrow. Media planners struggled to cope as new magazines and publications snowballed. Radio advertisers had it easy when there were only a few AM stations. But when FM arrived it totally fragmented listening audiences. Soon TV channels began popping up whenever a new demographic emerged. And then, enter the internet and social media.
Today as a creative copywriter at Media Group I’m still chasing that illusive Target Audience. But today I know my TA by another name. It’s no longer “Mary”, she like so many others has disappeared. In today’s communications environment Search Engine Optimization is king.
In 2016 my Target Audience is called Google. The Google Algorithm
As I challenge my writing skill to be as adaptive and robust as “PageRank” (God bless you Larry Page) and I begin to battle with “Hummingbird” the recent incarnation of the Google Algorithm, I ponder my effectiveness in reaching my “target” and achieving my goal. No, the goal is no longer to get Mary to try/buy a particular product or service. I’m chasing the ultimate unpaid result - My target is to get the client to the top of page 1 on Google.
Author: Maurice Ryall, Senior Writer at Media Group