Audience Marketing 101: How to Think Like Your Customers

Balint Gergely

May 9, 2024


After years of legal battles, Google finally decided to phase out third-party cookies for good.

This paradigm shift will inevitably impact even the savviest of marketers.

Let’s face it, third-party cookies made marketers comfortable. Human beings always aim for the path of least resistance, and third-party cookies serve customer insights on a silver platter. 

This allowed marketers to get results without truly understanding their intended audiences.

But the world is changing.

How to Use Science to Think Like Your Customers

It’s time to reflect on your methods for getting to know your customers. With third-party cookies disappearing, marketers must find new ways of understanding their customers.

As we see it, marketers still have three main paths for analyzing audiences:

  1. Psychology
  2. Neuroscience
  3. AI & Technology

In this article, you’ll learn how each of these disciplines can shape your marketing efforts. By integrating these into your advertising, you'll understand and think like any customer.

1. Tap into the Psychology of Your Customers

“People's ability to understand the factors that affect their behavior is surprisingly poor.”
- Robert Cialdini

It’s true.

People are often unaware of the myriad psychological phenomena constantly impacting their behavior. Customers are prone to falling victim to the effects of fear of missing out (FOMO) or the halo effect. These subconscious influences make human beings susceptible to their own cognitive biases.

Therein lies a valuable opportunity for marketers.

Customer psychology often manifests in behavioral patterns—patterns that you can identify and turn into insights. These insights are the bread and butter of effective advertising. High-quality insights allow you to spot opportunities early on. They enable you to build strategies that engage customers on a deep, personal level.

Use Social Listening to Resonate with Your Intended Audience

One way to generate high-quality insights is through social listening.

A recent example of this is from Ogilvy’s CeraVe campaign for the 2024 Superbowl halftime break.

The advertising agency used social listening to find insights for the campaign. Social listening is the act of monitoring social media channels to discover trends and patterns.

Ogilvy used Reddit to seek out intelligence and find insights. The agency stumbled upon posts drawing connections between CeraVe and the famous actor, Michael Cera. Most marketers would have ignored these connections.

But not Ogilvy.

Ogilvy used this insight to build a memorable campaign. The company positioned CeraVe on the favorable side of in-group bias from the Social Identity Theory. This theory suggests that individuals within a group will favor those who are also members of the same group.

In short, by paying attention to the community, CeraVe became part of the community.

The campaign not only helped CeraVe elevate its brand perception. It also demonstrated the massive utility of high-quality insights.

2. Use Neuroscience to Understand Customer Behavior

Neuroscience research has been instrumental in helping advertisers understand their customers for decades.

We’re at the forefront of this movement.

Neurons has over 20 years of experience in consumer neuroscience research. We're helping leading agencies and companies such as Tre Kronor Media,  Monotype, Delex, and more

As cognitive sciences advance, it’s becoming increasingly important to incorporate neuroscience methods into marketing strategies.

Find key neuroscience insights in the State of Advertising 2024 report.

Below you’ll find examples that demonstrate why you should consider neuroscience in your advertising. 

Different Audiences are Unified by Attention

Certain insights may be specific to each target audience. Personal preferences may depend on cultures and associations.

But attention is different. Attention is universal.

Attention heatmaps from Neurons' eye-tracking study

We ran eye-tracking studies across the globe to investigate how attention varies across regions. We found that cultural and geographical differences have little to no impact on how humans pay attention to visual stimuli. This indicates that attention to ads is universal across cultures.

But if attention is universal, doesn’t it mean that it’s also predictable?

That’s exactly what it means.

In fact, that’s what we utilize with our predictive AI models (more on that in the next section).

Learning how to capture the customers’ attention is transferable knowledge. It can aid marketers in every campaign and use case.

But attention isn’t the end of the journey.

As you’re about to find out, it’s the beginning.

Understanding Your Audience’s Subconscious

In collaboration with Stanford University, we conducted a consumer neuroscience study to uncover the subconscious elements behind successful ad campaigns.

We've discovered that all successful ads share four unifying principles:

  1. They capture the audience's attention.
  2. They evoke positive emotions.
  3. They engage the viewers.
  4. They create memories.

These principles constitute what we call:

The 4 Powers of Effective Advertising.

Watch Neurons CEO, Dr. Thomas Z. Ramsøy, explain the model in detail:

Watch the webinar on the 4 Powers of Effective Advertising

3. Use AI to Make Content that Resonates with Your Customers

Technology and innovation are the third major category on our list.

The right tools have the potential to transform advertising strategies. They also allow marketers to connect more deeply with customers.

As new technologies emerge, they open up fresh opportunities.

One of the most notable technologies in the past decade is AI.

Watch the AI Dilemma of Advertising webinar with Neurons COO Mike Storm

AI is transforming industries, and the advertising industry is no different. Initially dominated by discussions around Generative AI, the focus is now shifting. We see conversations moving toward predictive and suggestive AI models due to their broad applicability.

A prime example of this shift is in predictive ad analytics and visual optimization:

Predict How Customers See Your Ads with Predictive AI

Predictive AI tools allow users to forecast certain outcomes based on prior experience and data. While Generative AI creates new things, Predictive AI is used to guide, rather than to create.

Software utilizing this technology can enable users to make more data-driven decisions and streamline creative development with fast testing. But AI is only as good as the data it’s trained on. Machine learning models cannot distinguish between true and false, so training these models on high-quality datasets is crucial.

This is exactly what we do with our AI models.

Read more about Neurons Copilot

Neurons Copilot is the first marketing copilot built on neuroscience and consumer psychology. With this technology, Copilot can predict the effectiveness of visual assets, including banner ads, social media ads, and more.

Once predictions are complete, Copilot gives advertisers actionable insights and recommendations. With these insights, marketers know exactly how to improve ad performance based on industry, use case, and more.

As Sam Tranter, Senior Project Manager at Ogilvy put it:

Key Takeaways

Psychology Insights:
Understanding psychological principles allows marketers to connect deeply with their audience.

Neuroscience Understanding:
Insights from neuroscience may enhance ad effectiveness by tapping into the subconscious.

Technological Advancements:
Embracing innovative technologies like AI can deepen customer engagement and help campaigns remain impactful.

Expand your understanding of how to think like your customers with emotional advertising. 

Find out how in our blog - Why Brands Use Emotional Advertising & How to Effectively Measure Emotions

Audience Marketing 101: How to Think Like Your Customers

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