Reaching the right back-to-school shoppers using data

June 19, 2019 | 5 minute read
Kori Wallace
Content Manager
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Back-to-school is a huge money business. Every year, marketers embark on the “battle of the backpack,” looking for fresh, effective ways to appeal to parents who are shopping for students. According to Statista, 2018 saw an average household spend of almost $700, making it one of the biggest shopping events of the year.

But who are these parents, and how can you reach them? From online promo-code customers to affluent millennial moms, the school-shopping persona is not one-size-fits-all. To find your ideal audience and navigate the competitive landscape, here are two methods for reaching back-to-school shoppers using data.


1. Compile a list of specific 3rd party audiences, and combine it with 1st party data.

Back-to-school campaigns should always be leveraging 1st and 3rd party audience data to gain the attention of their ideal customers as they travel across the web. When choosing 3rd party audiences, hit all the obvious back-to-school buckets, going broad or getting granular.

Here are some great examples of already built-in audiences you can immediately target your campaigns against:

Audiences by Oracle & DLX

  • Seasonal & Holiday > Fall > Back-to-School – This audience comprises people with purchase behaviors and interests geared toward back-to-school.

  • Demographic > Children in Household – This audience is made up of people who live in a household with the specified presence of children.

  • Lifestyles > Parenting and Family – This audience comprises people who are parents of children. They have likely interests and purchases geared toward children’s products, family vacations, toys, and financial planning.

  • DLX Lifestyles > Millennials > Millennial Moms – This audience is made up of people whose activities strongly suggest they are millennial moms.

  • DLX Lifestyles > Millennials > Millennial Parents – This audience comprises people who are millennial-generation parents. They have likely interests and purchases geared toward photo-management apps, social networks, children’s foods, and parenting websites.

  • DLX Seasonal > Fall Seasonal > Back-to-School – Kids under 12 – This audience is made up of people whose frequent retail purchases include school supplies, large quantities of apparel, messenger bags, and backpacks.

  • DLX Seasonal > Fall Seasonal > Back-to-School – Teens – These shoppers are also regulars in the young men and juniors apparel departments, and are also in the market for more electronics, such as computers and Mp3 players.

Premier Data Provider audiences

We also work with various trusted data providers who have an amalgam of amazing audiences that are available in our data management platform (DMP). Here’s a list of specific back-to-school audiences from our Premier Data Providers:

  • Affinity Answers – People predicted to be highly interested in the back-to-school season, using a recommender system akin to Amazon and Netflix's recommender systems. The recommender system itself is built from brand engagements (content likes, comments, and replies) by consumers on brands' social network pages such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

  • ALC – This audience includes people who have purchased back-to-school products in the last 12 months.

  • Analytics IQ – This audience includes moms in the market for back-to-school products.

  • Connexity – This audience contains individuals that are back-to-school shoppers, as defined by people who are actively shopping for kids and teen clothing, backpacks, school supplies, and back-to-school technology.

  • V12 – This audience is made up of students and parents who are interested in buying school supplies for the school year ahead. They may be interested in a variety of items including office supplies and electronics. 

You can get even more granular using “Top Tier Spender” audiences from Premier Data Provider Mastercard, reaching people who are likely to spend two or more times the average person on back-to-school goods. Top tier spenders can even be targeted based on what types of stores they are most likely to frequent such as children’s apparel stores, department stores, or office stores, for example.

As well as targeting already compiled audiences like the ones listed above, advertisers should test and adapt, creating custom segments based on campaign performance.

For more information about using audience data, download our guide: 5 Steps to making audience data central to your digital strategy 


2. Think about content interests, and use contextual data to find your audience where they’re reading and researching.

Recently, leveraging audience data to find certain types of consumers online has often overshadowed the powerful secret weapon of contextual intelligence.

Contextual intelligence is a flashy name given to the information and insights available through analyzing content and how people interact with it. In the same vein, contextual advertising is the act of serving ads based on the content that’s displayed on the page. So instead of focusing on who is reading or viewing the content and targeting the person, contextual intelligence and advertising use what is being read or viewed and target the content.

The key to a strong back-to-school context campaign that places ads on relevant sites and pages is to take advantage of trending content. This means that as new, relevant articles or news stories are published that relate to “back-to-school” (e.g., back-to-school trends, shopping tips, etc.), you can ensure your advertising is appearing next to that content and in front of your target audience.

You can do so by incorporating specific Predicts segments into your campaign that are available in your chosen demand-side platform (DSP).

Some Predicts segments already available are:

  • Back-to-School

  • College Bound

  • Parents and Teachers

  • Parents of Young Kids

  • Savvy Shoppers Couponing

  • Teens

These segments are refreshed every 24 hours with new, relevant keywords and are helpful for extending campaign reach and following trending content. For a more detailed list of available segments, check out our Contextual Intelligence Segment Index Guide.

Beyond the standard Predicts segments, you can also build relevant and highly tailored custom context segments. Some examples of how custom back-to-school segments work include:\

  • A natural-food company aims to reach health-conscious moms by building a segment with terms related to healthy school lunches or clean-eating kids.

  • A sporting-goods brand with a new, sleek backpack style aims to reach fashionable teens by building a segment related to back-to-school fashion and backpack trends and fall fashion trends.

The important thing to remember about custom context segments is that they don’t need to be directly related to the topic (in this case, getting ready for the new school year). But they can still reach the same audience (moms) by thinking about other content interests they might engage with (healthy eating and school lunches). There are myriad content interests to explore for audiences, and it’s up to you to decide how creative you want to be to reach them.


Start planning back-to-school campaigns today

Combining audience and context data is an impactful and thorough strategy for back-to-school campaign planning. It has never been easier to compile a list of segments and execute your campaign. A few final tips as you plan your campaigns:

  1. Tailor brand messages and creative based on the unique characteristics of target audiences and the platforms and channels in which they can be reached. Balance the positioning of the marketing campaign with the needs and wants of target audiences.

  2. Ensure your brand is protected from harmful environments at all times by activating an always-on, standard brand safety solution. This will keep your advertising from appearing next to negative news stories or any inflammatory articles that are commonly found on the web.

  3. Measure all relevant aspects of the campaign to determine if the advertising is resonating with your audience. You may need to optimize the channel, creative, platform, or even the audience to get the desired results for your campaign.

To plan your back-to-school campaign using Oracle Data Cloud audience and context data, get in touch with your Oracle representative.


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Kori Wallace

Content Manager

Kori Hill Wallace is a content specialist for Oracle Data Cloud. She loves appetizers, animals, athletics, and alliteration. (She what she did there?) 

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