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3 Approaches to Better Audience Segmentation in 2021

November 10, 2020

We’re exploring three approaches to better audience segmentation in digital marketing, specifically for YouTube.

We recently tweeted a teasing comment asking, “Does anyone use YouTube anymore?” What spurred our comment was a recent barrage of irrelevant ads on the platform during a search for Paul Hollywood handshakes from The Great British Bake Off Series, or GBBO for fellow devotees. Our experience with YouTube lately, whether on the desktop or smartphone app, is one littered with ads that have very little to do with the content we’re actually watching. It reminds us of traditional broadcast strategies for targeting audiences with the classic shotgun approach. The thinking goes, “Let’s indiscriminately carpet-bomb a TV show with ads, hoping someone buys our product.” 

(Looking at you, LiMu the Emu, Liberty Mutual Insurance’s spokesbird.)

And let us stop you right there. Don’t spend your money on the celebrity endorsement either. First, you don’t have a Kardashian budget. And second, a video relating to a person’s interests is 3x more important than one featuring a famous actor. 

With 2021 around the corner, we suggest a better approach to audience segmentation on YouTube. 


Advertisers might want to consider which device a person is logged in to during the day. A person’s browsing and search histories provide clues to the types of content they’re interested in and the ad content that will resonate with them the most, which leads to our next recommendation.


By analyzing people’s behavior across devices, marketers can target a person’s interests, serving the most appropriate ad, at the most appropriate time with the most appropriate creative. This type of personalization results in more clicks and qualified buyers. Behaviourally-targeted ads are more effective than ones relying on traditional demographic or psychographic targeting approaches.

Buyer Personas

Before running any type of ad, it’s important to sit down and create buyer personas for your brand. You’re probably more familiar with buyer personas than you think. They’re a simple, yet highly effective way of describing your best customers. Take the informal conversations you have with customers as well as their demographics, psychographics (aspirations, values and opinions), and any company-owned data (past purchase behavior) to create the ideal customer of your business. It’s ok to create 2-3 personas and go as granular as possible. Clarity is important to keeping your messaging on brand across platforms and devices.

YouTube Ads allow you to target a few different audiences by default. Targeting audiences of people that are either actively researching or planning (in-market) or people that have a certain profile or interest (affinity) can help strategize how to target an audience based on their buyer persona. For example, an affinity audience for someone that frequently visits salons might show your YouTube ad on videos that are in the hair care category. An example of utilizing an inmarket audience would be targeting someone searching for make-up and placing your YouTube ad on make-up tutorial categories. It is about making sure your video ad is reaching the right audience at the right time – depending on if the are actively searching for something or if you just want to create brand awareness for someone that would likely buy your product.


You’ve patiently waited for the answer and it is yes. Plenty of people still use YouTube!

Three days after tweeting from the BigWheel burner account, Campaign publishes an article detailing the tremendous growth in revenues throughout Alphabet properties in 2020, specifically YouTube. Year-over-year ad revenue increased by 32%, from $3.8b to $5.04b. That’s certainly worthy of a Paul Hollywood handshake. Our lesson is to watch what we post to Twitter. 

What’s your takeaway?

An ever-changing and evolving digital media landscape requires new approaches to audience targeting, whether it’s YouTube, TikTok or Instagram. Otherwise, your brand runs the risk of making a significant financial investment with little to show for it in terms of product sales, click through rates, and conversions. 

To discuss how to effectively target audiences on your digital media channels, reach out to the BigWheel team at https://www.bigwheel.local/contact.