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Tunnl | Audiences | Platform

What is Audience Intelligence?

May 12th, 2023 | 8 min. read

Amanda Peterson Beadle

Amanda joined Tunnl in April 2022 and currently serves as the VP, Audiences & Analytics.

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Have you ever ordered something new off the menu, just to be wildly disappointed with what the waiter brings out? After all that anticipation, you’ve got a bad taste in your mouth and shattered expectations. You’ve wasted your money. Your rare night out is a wash. And you’re still hungry. 

Ineffective ads conjure the same empty disappointment. Budget gone. Time lost. Goals still unmet. 

In the decades Tunnl’s team has collectively spent developing and analyzing cutting-edge microtargeting techniques for advertisers in public affairs, issue advocacy, and brand marketing, we’ve identified one single ingredient that’s critical to planning a satisfying ad campaign: audience intelligence

We’ll define what audience intelligence is, why it matters, and how you can access audience intelligence to start improving your campaign results fast.

What Does Audience Intelligence Mean, and Why is It Important?

Audience intelligence is the process of obtaining and understanding insights about a group of people so that you can develop marketing strategies that effectively target and resonate with that group. When you figure out what your audiences want, how they feel about vital issues, and how they behave throughout their decision-making journey, you’ll be prepared to plan persuasive, audience-specific campaigns that generate a greater return on ad spend (ROAS).  

Audience intelligence clues you into the messaging that will best resonate with your audience, plus where, when, and how to target your campaigns to reach them effectively. Less guessing amounts to more efficient ad spend and better results.

Applications of audience intelligence and the insights it gleans span the entire consumer journey, equipping you with validated information for more precise media planning. You will be able to use what you uncover about your audience to:Gathering Intelligence

  • Find ways to get your ads in front of new customers or constituents.
  • Discover how audiences perceive and talk about your brand.
  • Determine the best platforms and mediums for reaching your audience.
  • Plan more efficient ad campaigns based on the audience you want to reach.

At this point, audience intelligence may seem like either lightning in a bottle or like the same old things you’re already doing that aren’t working. Let’s get clear about what sets audience intelligence apart from other ad targeting solutions and how it fits in with other methods in your media planning arsenal.


How is Audience Intelligence Different from Other Ad Targeting Solutions? 

There’s more than one way to get information about an audience and even more ways to organize and categorize that information once you have it. The term “audience intelligence” may be new to you, but you’ve probably heard about a few popular audience intelligence techniques or outcomes. By understanding the difference between each of these terms, you’ll be better positioned to adopt solutions that align with your organization’s conversion challenges. 

Audience Intelligence vs. Audience Insights

Though you may see these two terms used interchangeably, audience intelligence and audience insights are not the same things.

Media-measurementAudience intelligence is the means by which you obtain audience insights. Audience intelligence tools vary, but their primary function is to unearth and simplify the users’ access to critical audience data.

Take the Audience Builder, Cable Ranker, and Media Measurement tools in the Tunnl platform, for example. They make it easy and fast for users to draw the precise audience-based demographic and media consumption insights - distilled from billions of lines of raw data - that they need to reach their campaign targets. 

Audience insights are the information you gather from the process of audience intelligence. Audience insights delivered by the Tunnl platform include information about the audience’s demographics, media consumption patterns, preferences, behaviors, and other details that enable you to reach your audience with maximum efficiency.

Audience Intelligence vs. Personas/ICPs

The relationship between audience intelligence and ideal customer profiles (ICPs) or personas is less of a line in the sand and more of a cause-and-effect relationship.

Personas and ideal customer profiles (ICPs) create digestible documentation of who sales, marketing, and revenue teams are targeting. When done correctly, ICPs can promote a shorter sales cycle, attract more qualified leads, and increase sales conversions because they coordinate outreach efforts around high-value targets and equip salespeople with the tools to resonate with their audience. 

How are ICPs and persona documents created? They typically include details like company size, job title, and the pain points people in their role are experiencing. Those details constitute audience insights, and we know where those come from.

While audience intelligence leads to audience insights, audience insights inform ideal customer profiles and personas that sales and revenue teams can use to identify or score prospects. You need audience intelligence to glean audience insights, and audience insights to build ICPs that work.

Audience Intelligence vs. Social Listening

Of the many methods for conducting audience intelligence research, social listening specifically uses social media to collect audience insights.

Social ListeningSocial listening is the act of monitoring conversations on social media to see how audiences talk about and interact with brands, topics, and industries. It’s a valuable way to ascertain your audience’s preferences and gripes, understand their expectations, and identify terms to parrot back to them in your marketing. 

Combined with other audience intelligence methods or tools - like the social media consumption indexes or TV media measurement functions in the Tunnl platform - social listening can assist advertisers in positioning their campaigns and selecting platforms where they’ll achieve maximum impact.


How Do I Access Audience Intelligence Tools to Plan My Campaigns?

Campaigns planned without audience intelligence stand a slim chance of generating a return on ad spend. You may allocate your ad budget to platforms your ideal audience doesn’t frequently use. Maybe the campaign generates a few leads, but they aren’t high quality because your targeting is inaccurate. When you’re advertising on time-sensitive issues or with a strict budget, you don’t have time and money to lose on misinformed campaigns.      

So, you need audience intelligence and the insights that come from it to maximize your reach efficiency from the word go. Where do you start? 

Focus GroupThere are plenty of methods for gathering audience insights manually: 

  • sending out surveys
  • conducting interviews
  • social listening
  • website analytics
  • focus groups

While effective, these efforts can take months, cost thousands, and only measure a single point in time that may not be accurate or relevant by the time your findings are in a usable state. It’s a lot for an organization to manage in-house.   

Thankfully, there’s an entire industry around automating audience intelligence for marketers and advertisers.

What are Audience Intelligence Platforms?

Where there’s a time-consuming task, there’s always an ecosystem of service providers willing to tackle the task for you. Audience intelligence platforms combine research, surveying, and data presentation tools to surface audience insights faster

Depending on the insights you’re looking for and the tools you want at your disposal, specialized audience intelligence platforms can help you access them quickly.

  • Applecart is ideal for mapping out the interpersonal networks of influential people.
  • CrossScreen can place ads for you based on audience insights.
  • Pulsar is an excellent option for gathering insights from social listening.
  • Tunnl offers a full suite of AI-powered, prebuilt audience insights and audience intelligence tools to support every stage of your campaign’s lifecycle, from planning to measurement, across any channel. With end-to-end solutions for linear and digital advertisers, Tunnl's platform can improve the return on ad spend for campaigns of any size.  

Where you turn for audience intelligence will depend heavily on the industry you’re in, the insights you need, and the budget you have to obtain them.

For example, Tunnl offers an audience intelligence platform for public affairs advertisers, issue New call-to-actionadvocates, and purpose-driven brands who want surveyed, observed, and modeled audience insights within minutes, anytime, to inform their campaigns - whether using Tunnl’s extensive audience data or their own. With Tunnl's platform, advertisers can summon insights based on the issues, geographies, and media they want to target with their campaigns.

This is all fine and well, but what do you do with audience insights once you have them?

How Can I Start Using Audience Intelligence?

The wasted money, sunk time, and poor campaign results you’ve experienced point conclusively to one thing: you need to know more about your audience. But charting a course for your audience intelligence can be daunting if you plan to handle it all on your own without the right tools to help you.

So, instead of diving headfirst into audience intelligence, dip a toe into audience intelligence platforms. They’ll help you investigate your audiences’ interests, preferences, and behaviors in one organized application for actionable data-driven insights you can immediately apply to your media planning and campaign execution. 

There are dozens of options that excel in various areas of audience intelligence, so compare other audience intelligence platforms to understand the full scope of the varied audience intelligence landscape and the different options available to you. 

If Tunnl’s audience intelligence platform piqued your interest, you have multiple platform tiers to choose from that accommodate different budgets, audience intelligence, and audience insights needs. 

No matter who you trust to help you, smarter campaigns begin with audience intelligence.

Which Tunnl Platform Tier is Best for You & Your Campaigns?