- October 29, 2012

Marketing to Moms Online: Campaign Norms Reveals Both Targeting Efficiency and Potential for Improvement

We’ve often heard the stat that upwards of 80% of household spending is controlled by Moms, which of course makes them a very valuable audience segment. Marketers attempting to reach this segment online must continually ask themselves, “How effective is the online channel at reaching this target audience, and how can I maximize my digital spend?”

Since the introduction of Comscore’s validated Campaign Essentials™ in 2012, these types of questions continue to be at the forefront of our clients’ minds. They want to know what is “normal” when it comes to targeting a segment like Moms so they can understand whether or not their media plan is delivering on its promise. As is true with so many aspects of digital advertising, the answer to this question isn’t always simple, and what’s “normal” often depends on the campaign goals and how broadly or narrowly defined is the target audience.

What is Normal? Online Benchmarks for Marketing to Moms

An analysis of 984 campaigns targeting women 25-54 (an often-used approximation for the Moms segment) found that, on average, online campaigns accurately reached this audience with 31% percent of their impressions. For a marketer seeking to reach moms, this may at first seem like a shockingly low percentage. But the good news is that this is actually a reasonably efficient targeting rate and it also leaves room for improvement, signaling an opportunity to get more from your marketing spend.

So how can a 31% hit rate actually be efficient? We can evaluate the campaign in the context of targeting efficiency,which is defined as the percent in-target impressions divided by the percent that the target represents relative to online population. Since the Moms segment represents 25% of the online audience, 31% of impressions being delivered on-target means that the campaigns are, on average, being delivered with greater accuracy than would be the case in the absence of any targeting.

Targeting Performance
Women 25-54 Years Old
n = 984 campaigns

% of Impressions Delivered In-Target


% of Target Audience in the Online Population


Targeting Efficiency*


*Defined as the percent of impressions that are in-target divided by the percent of the online population represented by the target.

As you can imagine, the more narrowly you define your target the lower the likelihood your campaign will be delivered against that target. But, your ability to deliver against that target more efficiently is likely to go up. Optimizing on target efficiency provides a way to get maximum reach for a target audience, which is why many of our clients evaluate performance by comparing this metric across various sites and buys while layering in relative costs to calculate ROI.

What About the Other 69% of Impressions?

Understanding the audience composition of the remaining group that fell outside of the target is also a critically important part of campaign evaluation. Building on the above example, we might be interested to learn what percent of those impressions were delivered to Dads or Grandparents who are often primary caretakers for children? These groups frequently play a role in household and family purchasing decisions, and therefore also represent value to marketers.

Every Comscore vCE campaign enables clients to see the target efficiency for the primary and secondary audiences to understand how well additional groups beyond the primary target are being reached. In the campaign screenshot below, we can see that while the targeting efficiency for the primary target was well above average at about 1.6, the secondary target also performed well with a targeting efficiency of 1.4.

Targetting Efficiency

Demographics Are Important, But So Are Behavioral Attributes

While demographics are often the primary method of targeting a particular audience, marketers can also realize value in evaluating delivery according to behavioral attributes. Behavioral segment reporting is included in every Comscore vCE report so we can assess a large number of campaigns to look for patterns, and Comscore reports on 80 different behavioral segments.

When looking at campaigns targeted to Moms, we often see a higher behavioral affinity toward consuming parenting content online than the demographic target alone would show. This means that while the normative benchmark for hitting women 25-54 in an online campaign is 31%, a given campaign might show 60% of its ads reached people interested in parenting, cooking or home décor, which are traditionally Mom-focused content sites. Marketers who are trying to sell products or services related to these areas wouldn’t necessarily think they’re wasting impressions if the people seeing the campaign are highly interested in these areas!

Key Takeaways for Campaign Analysis

Advertisers and their agencies can leverage these and other insights from Comscore vCE to better evaluate campaign effectiveness and improve their allocation decisions. As a starting point for marketers planning their campaigns, there are three important things to keep in mind:

  1. Understanding the ability of your campaign to hit a target audience is critical to evaluating performance, but doing so based on targeting efficiency rather than by a % in-target metric alone often provides more meaningful and actionable campaign intelligence.
  2. Secondary audiences have value and should not be overlooked as part of campaign planning and analysis.
  3. Evaluating behavioral segments can provide additional insight into how well a campaign is performing against high-potential customers that demographic targets alone cannot provide.