Target behavior not context to reach ‘passionistas’

 “Art is a Passionate Affair” by Florida artist Emily Ashworth

An Adweek article introduced me to a new term new in audience segmentation: Passionistas.

These are the 17 to 31 percent of the audience who are “highly-engaged” with a brand. Passionistas more likely to create buzz which makes them worth reaching and motivating. The question being how.

The article said a study conducted by Yahoo and the research firm MediaVest (part of the French advertising conglomerate Publicis Group) found there was not a great deal of difference to the response rates of in-contxext ads as opposed to plain old run of the mill advertising. The story quotes MediaVest present and study coordinator Jim Kite:

“Targeting the right people is more important than the content.” 

The findings undermine the case for charging a premium for contextual matching, as in Google Adwords, where the advertisers pays more to stream the dog food ad, for instance, alongside copy that contains the word “dogs.”

Contextual approach vies with another alternative to run of the mill advertising. This competing method is behavioral targeting — collecting information on consumers so the ad server knows that the person has visited many dog sites and is therefore a likely candidate for dog products. (Either that or is dog because on the Internet no one knows.)

A line at the end of the story suggests that passionate consumers seek out messages regarding their brand. It doesn’t matter if the exposure is in or out of context. A billboard or the ad in the magazine in the next person on the bus is enough to get attention. The passionistas care. Said Yahoo’s Edwin Wong:

“If a brand aligns with a passion it doesn’t matter where the audience is.”

The implication is that preaching to the choir may be the best strategy for brands. And it may not much matter how the pitch is delivered. Apparently interest and passion are fellow travelers.