“If I’ve got a dollar to spend, do I want to spend that on someone who knows a lot about our brand and buys the category a lot? Or do I want to spend it on someone that maybe hasn’t bought me for six years, maybe doesn’t know much about me?” asked Virginia Beal at WARC’s Cannes session, How to be a Smart Targeter.

The question of whether to prioritise targeting or reaching consumers burst into the open in 2016, when Marc Pritchard, Procter & Gamble’s CMO, admitted that the company’s approach to targeting on Facebook had been flawed. In widely reported remarks, Pritchard made it clear: “We targeted too much, and we went too narrow.”

"The bigger your brand, the more you need broad reach and less targeted media," he added. For the biggest advertiser in the world, reach proved to be more important. However, Pritchard acknowledged the greater opportunity that targeted advertising offered to smaller and more local brands.

The academic view