Understanding consumer motivations using Paid Media

Paid Media

As consumers become more conscious of their environmental impact, businesses are recognising the importance of aligning their strategies with societal values to achieve long-term growth. Leveraging Paid Media to understand consumer motivations and how to target audiences interested in specific topics, such as sustainability, can be a powerful tool for brands.


Defining your audience

Consumers typically have different motivations for purchasing sustainable products – with a trade-off between wanting to purchase sustainably and being price-conscious, as illustrated in our retail whitepaper. Before diving into the Paid Media strategies, it’s important to understand who the audience is. Sustainable audiences prioritise environmentally friendly and socially responsible products and practices. These audiences engage in eco-conscious communities, follow sustainable influencers and actively seek information on environmentally friendly initiatives. Our research has identified three audience cohorts that exist within the sustainability space. To recap, these audiences are:

  • Altruistic and Affluent: An audience with the means and desire to pay more for sustainable products, regardless of external perception.
  • Progressive and Cohesive: An audience with a strong desire for conformity, operating in an environment where sustainability is a core cultural value.
  • Financial Prudent and Socially Aware: An audience who recognises that investing in sustainability could have long-term financial benefits, for example, a counter-movement to the buy-cheap-buy-twice.


Understanding your audience

To understand what motivates audiences, brands can use Responsive Search Ads (RSAs) within Paid Search to learn what messages resonate with searchers.

When there are different messages or USPs for different users, it’s important to ensure multiple RSAs per ad group fit into various themes. Looking at sustainability audiences, this may look like:

  1. Price-conscious ad
  2. Emotive ad
  3. Sustainable ad

Creating different RSAs for different “themes” – ensuring these ads are labelled consistently throughout campaigns and ad groups – will allow for insightful analysis across GoogleAds accounts.

Not only will this lead to a better understanding of what messages are resonating with audiences, but it also gives Google the freedom to show a price-conscious, emotive or sustainable ad to different audiences as it starts to learn which audiences resonate with the three varying messages.

Ad Label Report


In the example above, the ads with the label “price” have a 60% higher CTR than ads with the label “emotive”.

Does creating 15 unique headlines and four unique descriptions for each “theme” sound a bit overwhelming or unrealistic? In reality, it may look like having some Brand USP headlines duplicated across all three themes, and simply reserving five headlines to be specific to the theme.


Showing the right message to the right person

Google says it will utilise its in-market and affinity audiences when deciding which RSA to show a searcher. So, in theory, if Google starts to see a sustainable ad performing better for certain in-market lists, Google will be more likely to show this list to new searchers who are also on that list. To take this a step further, brands can add first-party audience lists to give Google’s AI even more insight into audiences and what message is working for them. 

When there are multiple USPs or when trying to learn what message is going to resonate with audiences, like price versus sustainability, creating multiple RSAs and utilising labels is a creative way to gain insight via PPC. Brands can also utilise Google’s AI that powers RSA’s to ensure the right message is being shown to the right person.


Leveraging Meta

As well as Google, Meta can be useful for gathering consumer insights on sustainability audiences. It’s possible to target a broad sustainability audience using behavioural insights, and serve them different copy and creative to understand what messaging resonates with them. As Meta allows up to five different copy variations as the primary text, brands can test different variations to understand motivations for purchasing sustainably.


Speaking to your audience

When targeting eco-conscious audiences, brands should ensure the content resonates with the target audience’s values. For example, the content might showcase eco-friendly practices, share information about sustainable products or highlight a company’s commitment to sustainability. Brands should ensure the content has high-quality visuals, compelling storytelling and clear call-to-action (CTAs) to engage and inspire audiences.

Once the user is engaged, then they can be retargeted further down the funnel with a more action intent CTA, like ‘purchase’. As the user has engaged with the content, this indicates they’re interested in the product or service and, therefore, are more likely to convert.


Tapping into TikTok

To tap into these audiences using Paid Social, it’s important to consider which platforms the users can be found on. TikTok is a great platform to reach users who are engaged in those communities as this audience over-indexes within the platform. There are also thousands of sustainable influencers who create content across the app. Collaborating with influencers who are passionate about sustainability, identify with a brand’s values and have an engaged community can amplify reach within the community in an authentic way. Layering this with interest and hashtag targeting related to sustainability across TikTok can help brands reach their desired audience and get the intended message across.

Coupling Paid Search and Paid Social tactics can provide brands with valuable insights on how their consumers behave and how to target them. Download Journey Further’s retail whitepaper to learn how to reach your target audience, no matter how niche.