Marketing Strategies

Custom Audiences 101: focus your budget towards success

Are you struggling to reach your ideal customers and prospects? Are you wasting valuable marketing dollars on generic, imprecise, non-transparent audience segments? Then building a custom audience may be the next step for your marketing strategy. Custom audiences give you direct access to original data providers who offer bespoke, privacy safe audiences tailored to your specific needs.

What exactly is a custom audience?

Custom audiences don’t just allow you to go beyond basic demographics and behavioral segments; they give you access to rich, diverse, person-level attributes that are not always made available for mass consumption. They also give you access to data experts who are equipped to provide added value consultation to ensure your data strategy is sound on all channels and throughout your marketing cycles. Data Axle in particular does this by constructing profiles from hundreds of sources, like real-estate data, voter registrations, search and browsing history, purchase history and more.

A custom audience allows you to:

1) Build your best audience for every campaign

Custom audiences are great if you are running a very personalized, specific campaign. Marketers can tailor audience segmentation to their specific campaign objective by leveraging both a team of data-driven marketing experts, as well as modeling and artificial intelligence solutions. Using these tools in tandem will jump-start your campaigns and reduce ramp-up or learning periods common in machine-learning marketing platforms. It should be as simple as you telling your partner what you need. For example, Data Axle can usually share audience details (scale and pricing) within a day and deliver the audience to your platform(s) within a week.

2) Boost omnichannel campaigns through identity resolution

Custom audiences can allow you to resolve audience identity at the person level, enabling your omnichannel media campaigns to thrive. Marketers can push the same audience to all addressable channels – including offline (i.e. direct mail) – alongside email, social, programmatic, Google Ads, CTV, Digital audio and more. Third-party cookies are set to phase out in 2024. Many marketers are unsure about Google’s privacy requirements and which solution will work out in the long run. But, because custom audiences through Data Axle are created using offline, privacy-compliant sources, your team won’t have trouble finding scalable, addressable audiences wherever they are. We also offer an extensive assortment of additional identifiers such as multiple email addresses, hashed email keys, phone numbers, social handles and other ID’s. This maximizes match rates and more accurate targeting both when on-boarding offline PII to Digital and when off-boarding Digital to Direct marketing.

This also facilitates cross-channel measurement through use of simple matchbacks, which helps break down the siloed measurement systems that bedevil many multichannel marketers.

3) Build long-term partnerships for stability and success

As macro forces like consumer behavior and privacy continue to disrupt advertising – we are looking at more digital channels, the deprecation of the third-party cookie, walled gardens, retail media networks, and more – companies can benefit from leaning on trusted data partners that they can depend on to operate as part of their team. Fostering relationships with third-party data providers will give you improved transparency and privacy assurances, custom modeling services, identity resolution, measurement solutions, and often-times even pricing incentives, so you will get more for less.

To summarize – custom audiences allow you to efficiently devote your time and resources. You can personalize your messaging and hone in on what your customers actually want and need from you.

What’s the difference between an off-the-shelf audience and a custom audience?

“Off-the-shelf” segments are ready-made audiences that you can purchase on marketing technology platforms like DSPs, DMPs, CDP, and social and immediately market to. These segments aren’t custom-made and are usually less expensive than more sophisticated, custom models, but the upside is that they are very scalable. Solution partners, such as Data Axle, carefully craft these audiences and it’s a quick and efficient way to target consumers who have similar interests or are in the same demographic as your best customers.

How do you build a custom audience?

To build a traditional custom audience, your data partner will go beyond the basic demographics and fill in more attributes that you want to target. Data Axle, on the other hand, can use over 200 attributes to build a more nuanced custom audience. We have a complete picture of 95% of adults and households in North America, so our profiles are well rounded. With all this data we can see who your current customers are, and we can hone in on the customers you would like to see more of.

We then use AI and machine learning models to create look-a-like audiences, so you can target prospects who match the attributes of the group of current customers who you want to focus on. We can also add in attributes for these prospects that will tell you where they are in their purchasing journey. How close are they to switching to a new service? Have they done web searches for your product recently?

These attributes can be as specific or wide a target as they need to be to meet your needs. And these custom audiences can be quick, too. We can create custom Digital Ad and CTV audiences, for instance, that will be available in your DSP, DMP or Platform of choice within 48 hours.

Use custom audiences to take advantage of hot channels

Tik Tok shoppers are on the rise – as of December, 2022, there were 23.7 million US TikTok buyers.1 Meanwhile, ads reach 70% of Facebook’s 3 billion monthly active users.2 And in 2023, 23 million people, 68.5% of the population in the US, will use connected TV (CTV) like Hulu or other streaming channels.3 Because custom audiences are all about personalization, digital ads on hot platforms like Tiktok, Facebook and CTV really matter.

A cookware retailer, for instance, could use a CTV ad to target people with a higher interest in cooking, like hobbyists, mothers, college educated men and newly engaged couples who are building registries. Data Axle’s combination of digital data and media services mean that we can reduce our client’s overall campaign costs.

Custom audiences give you the precision you’re looking for

Off-the-shelf segments are really important for targeting and scaling campaigns, but custom audiences are also a crucial tool in your marketing toolbox, especially if your goal is increasing conversions. Savvy advertisers will give custom audiences a try – especially as the increased personalization and relevance to the consumer will improve overall campaign ROI.

Talk to a member of our Data Axle team today about how to meet your goals.


Natasia Langfelder
Content Marketing Manager

As Content Marketing Manager, Natasia is responsible for helping strategize, produce and execute Data Axle's content. With a passion for writing and an enthusiasm for data management and technology, Natasia creates content that is designed to deliver nuggets of wisdom to help brands and individuals elevate their data governance policies. A native New Yorker, when Natasia is not at work she can be found enjoying New York’s food scene, at one of NYC’s many museums, or at one of the city’s many parks with her two teacup yorkies.