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Using AI to lead digital media audience segmentation

Every year, a new shiny toy comes around that everyone jumps to integrate into their processes. Artificial intelligence (AI) is that hot new thing these days.

Now, before you roll your eyes and drop AI in the “buzzword” category, hear me out: For nonprofits in the digital media space, trusting AI can make a huge difference in digital campaign success. The trick is knowing who you can trust.

There are plenty of companies and vendors that are quick to throw AI into the conversation about their products and services. But the truth is that many don’t use it effectively.

Some even claim to use groundbreaking AI, only to get busted later for deceiving customers. Just take the latest news on one startup’s failure to effectively use AI to replace accountants. Spoiler alert: They hired an offshore firm in the Philippines to do the work they claimed their AI software provided.

But don’t let that scare you away. Big tech companies like Facebook are using AI – and using it well.

Here’s what you need to know about AI and digital media audience segmentation.


Before machine learning took the world by storm, we approached audience segmentation in digital media a lot like we do in direct mail:

Each campaign would be used for a different tactic, approach or strategy. Under each campaign would be an endless number of ad sets, audience segments and creative.

Traditionally, this approach protected nonprofits from spending budget on people who aren’t interested in their cause.

However, for nonprofits with limited digital media spend, this approach is expensive and ineffective.

While the hyper-focused take on segmentation can still be extremely effective in direct mail, we’ve learned that in digital it’s best to let AI take the reins.


I hate to break it to you, but AI is much smarter than us.

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If you’re among that number (and you should be), trusting AI is one way to get there.

Although I’m confident this is one machine that won’t be taking over our jobs, it is a valuable tool for marketers who are looking for cost-effective and efficient ways to run their digital media programs.


AI allows you to cast a wider net. Once you launch your display or Facebook ads, AI uses machine learning to examine who is engaging with your ad the most. The algorithm then optimizes targeting based off that information.

Why is that important? Well, as you know, digital advertising traffic is at an all-time high. Think about how many ads you see online throughout the day. A lot, right?

Because of this, it can be difficult for nonprofits to understand the behavior of their audiences. AI takes this part of the process out of your hands, and frankly does it better.

Keeping this in mind, it’s important to remember that, although AI is getting smarter and better every day, the human element will always be needed.

The right agency partner can help you set-up tracking to optimize your campaigns, ensure revenue goals are being achieved and provide the right human touch to reach your audience.

It also allows nonprofit marketers – who have a lot on their plates – to avoid getting bogged down in the complex details.

Shane Thornal

Shane Thornal is an experienced leader within the digital landscape and serves as Senior Director, Digital Media, at RKD Group. Shane understands programmatic media buying and knows what questions to ask to drive campaigns forward. He is a strategic thinker, focused and extremely hard working. Shane understands how to build high-performing teams, has great industry knowledge and knows the triggers to pull to get the best out of everyone. He is driven and dedicated to his clients’ goals and objectives, and will not rest until they are achieved.

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