Hitwise’s AudienceView: The tool you should invest in if you want to master audience-centric search

Sophie Coley

April 11, 2018

While Propellernet’s Strategy and Insight team comprises six people (we’re small, but perfectly formed), the suite of industry-leading tools we have access to gives us superpowers that enable us to be more efficient and to drive more value for more clients across our agency.


This blog post is a paean to one of them in particular; AudienceView by Hitwise, which is probably my favourite. If you don’t know about it and work in online marketing, then prepare to have your mind blown.


My role as Audience Strategy Director makes it my responsibility to ensure that we’re putting real people at the heart of all the work we do. It might be a controversial viewpoint, but of all the marketing disciplines, I think that search is one where we (as an industry) are typically quite guilty of forgetting those real people. We focus on keywords, rather than the people who are typing them, and quantity over quality in terms of gunning for the big-buck search terms which have huge search volumes – rather than focusing on those that matter most to a relevant and specific audience.


While we’d been striving to put people at the heart of our work for some time, we were truly able to start doing that when we signed up to Hitwise and gained access to AudienceView. If you’re not using it, the spiel goes like this: AudienceView enables us to model over 3,000 consumer data points, to gain an in-depth understanding of online content consumption, browsing behaviour and searches performed in search engines by defined audience segments.


What that means in real terms for our clients is that we can craft audience-centric search strategies where we look beyond those never-ending, chaotic tussles for top positions for ultra-competitive terms. Instead, we can find the search terms that matter most to the customers you want and focus on ranking for those. They might be more niche and have lower volume when you look in Google’s Keyword Planner, but they’re better quality and, typically, less competitive and therefore more valuable to our clients.


Let’s take a travel example: Thailand holidays.


Boats on a beach in Thailand


Thailand is a diverse destination which attracts a whole host of traveller types, from backpackers to families to honeymooners to luxury travellers. If you work for a travel company which sells trips to Thailand, I imagine you’d want to rank when someone searches ‘Thailand holidays’.


But it’s a hugely competitive term; in the UK it generates more than 40 million results within Google and the Keyword Planner estimates that 49,500 people type it into the search engine each month. Of course, those 49,500 searchers comprise all the traveller types I already listed out (and more!) so there’s going to be a whole lot of wastage if your search strategy focuses solely on ranking for that competitive, generic term (unless you have trips that realistically work for backpackers and families and honeymooners and luxury travellers).


Someone like STA Travel, which specialises in trips for backpackers, would benefit from understanding how young people, specifically, search around Thailand holidays. Equally, Saga Holidays might want to look at how older people search and someone like First Choice might want some insight around families searching for Thailand. AudienceView gives us that insight:

AudienceView chart



So, we know that in the 24-weeks since 22nd October 2017:

  • Under 35s made up 32% of searches for terms related to the generic ‘Thailand holidays’ but 43% of searches for terms related to the generic ‘Thailand islands’
  • Those aged 45 and over made up 52% of searches for terms related to the generic ‘Thailand holidays’ but 41% of searches for terms related to the generic ‘Thailand islands’
  • 45-54-year-olds made up 20% of searches for terms related to the generic ‘Thailand holidays’
  • 25-34-year-olds made up 22% of searches for terms related to the generic ‘Thailand islands’


This gives you a sense of where the different brands could and should be focusing; Saga might continue investing in activity to rank for generic terms given that the older audience comprises the majority of those searchers, while STA might look at upweighting activity around Thai islands.


This is just scratching the surface; age is just one of those 3,000 data points which we use to build custom audiences, and in fact the custom audiences can become as complex as you like (i.e. age + gender + geography + household income + searches performed). We’re increasingly building custom personas for our clients within the tool which is unlocking a wealth of insight unique to them.


If the above has piqued your interest or if you want to see more examples of how we make use of AudienceView, we’ve recently co-authored a report with the team at Hitwise, on Peak Travel in 2018. It looks at top trends, myth busters and audience tactics, giving insight on some common misconceptions around the luxury traveller, and how online audience data can dispel these assumptions. We also cover different approaches to defining your travel-specific target audience and key tactics and best practices from the work we’ve done for luxury travel operator, Kuoni. You can download the report for free, at www.hitwise.com/gb/white-papers/peak-travel-report-2018/.


P.S. One more tool that you should absolutely check out, and which, for me, comes a close second to AudienceView is our very own AnswerThePublic.com. It’s free and will give you a whole host of quick content ideas, based on all the suggestions that Google is making to people searching online right now. I use it on a near-daily basis and it maintains that audience-centric approach to search (and content). One final plug – if you want some ideas about other ways to use the data AnswerThePublic generates, take a look at the talk I gave at BrightonSEO in September 2017!

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