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TransUnion and MMA Global Study Finds an Audience Targeting Strategy that Drives up to 23x Return on Marketing Investment

CHICAGO, June 13, 2024 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Marketers have experienced the tension between investing for short-term results and long-term growth for decades. Today, new research from TransUnion (NYSE: TRU) and MMA Global uncovers a targeting strategy that performs best against both short- and long-term objectives: the Movable Middles.

The Movable Middles audience target is defined as category buyers who are neither loyal to the brand nor to the brand’s competitors. Most marketing campaigns today automatically optimize towards brand loyalists based on their high conversion rate, without recognizing that these consumers are precisely those most likely to convert anyway without advertising. Conquesting campaigns are common, often against an audience committed to a competitor and unreceptive to the brand’s message. Instead, focusing on Movable Middles selects an audience that is both highly responsive and more influenced by advertising, meaningfully increasing the incremental impact of the campaign.

According to nearly a dozen case studies, targeting the Movable Middles can:

  • Yields 9.5x the number of conversions when compared to traditional broad reach tactics;  
  • Saves marketers more than 50% to achieve the same business outcomes as other targeting tactics;
  • Produce dramatically higher advertising returns, up to 23x.

The new research from TransUnion and MMA Global shows that Movable Middles outperform other popular approaches for driving short-term sales and in acquiring customers over time. As illustrated in the study, Ally Bank achieved 2.2x (120% increase) in short term account openings compared to category buyer audiences and 1.9x (90% increase) in long term customer acquisitions by targeting their Moveable Middles.

“Marketing budgets are finite and precious, and we don’t want to waste any of it on consumers who won’t engage or respond to advertising,” said Kevin Howard, executive director of growth marketing & innovation, Ally Financial. “Analyzing our existing set up across campaigns, audience targets, placement tactics, and creative helped us find areas of higher concentrated Movable Middles. Then we could adjust and optimize our budget on those consumers who would pay attention and act, which drove significant new account openings and overall customer growth for us in a crowded category.”

The findings are unveiled in a new whitepaper, “Breakthroughs in Audience Strategy: Debunking the Short- and Long-Term Myth of Marketing.” This is the latest data to come out of a multi-year research partnership between TransUnion and MMA Global. In 2021, the partnership first produced research on the Movable Middles as an audience targeting strategy to optimize budget performance.

“We partnered with TransUnion to give marketers empirical tools to improve their marketing effectiveness,” said Vas Bakopoulos, SVP, head of industry research at MMA Global. “In our latest publication with TransUnion, we’ve quantified the impact of targeting Movable Middles and given CMOs a roadmap to replicate the success we’ve seen across all the brands who have used this approach.”

“Though it might seem counterintuitive, we knew from our previous research that marketers leveraging the Movable Middles approach realize significant short-term gains. We now know that these Movable Middles drive growth in the long term as well,” said Michael Schoen, EVP and head of TruAudience marketing solutions at TransUnion. “Now we have a validated system to operationalize these insights and we look forward to working with more brands to identify, reach, and measure the effectiveness of targeting their Movable Middles.”

Click here to read “Breakthroughs in Audience Strategy: Debunking the Short- and Long-Term Myth of Marketing.”


Built upon the framework in the previous paper, TransUnion and MMA Global embarked on a study with Ally Bank, which ran a 10-week campaign targeted at audiences rich in Ally’s Movable Middles. Using TransUnion’s TruAudience identity graph to track conversions across 18-months post-campaign, the Movable Middles audiences achieved over 2x return on ad spend and 2x customer growth compared to broad reach tactics in both the short and long terms.

About TransUnion (NYSE: TRU)

TransUnion is a global information and insights company with over 13,000 associates operating in more than 30 countries. We make trust possible by ensuring each person is reliably represented in the marketplace. We do this with a Tru™ picture of each person: an actionable view of consumers, stewarded with care. Through our acquisitions and technology investments we have developed innovative solutions that extend beyond our strong foundation in core credit into areas such as marketing, fraud, risk and advanced analytics. As a result, consumers and businesses can transact with confidence and achieve great things. We call this Information for Good® — and it leads to economic opportunity, great experiences and personal empowerment for millions of people around the world.

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