USAToday.com Starts Demographic Audience Targeting

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USAToday.com said yesterday that it would use demographic data to offer advertisers the ability to target their advertising to specific audiences.


The Precision Targeting tool ties registration data collected from USAToday.com's 12 million registered users with PRIZM NE lifestyle data provided by Claritas. The data are matched to the Mediamark Research Survey of the American Consumer. The system would let a luxury car advertiser, for example, target users from high-income ZIP codes. USAToday.com boasts it is the first site to tie registration data back to offline marketing segments.


"It's really important for online publishers to start speaking in a language that's familiar to all marketers," said Laryssa Kundanmal, USAToday.com's director of sales solutions.


She said Precision Targeting would complement, not replace, USAToday.com's behavioral targeting, which it has offered for the past year through New York-based Tacoda Systems. Kundanmal said USAToday.com site behavior data alone could not satisfy some advertiser target audiences, such as shoppers for digital cameras.


"We can extend what we're offering now by offering an additional level of [audience] qualification," she said.


Marketers have used PRIZM clustering data for more than two decades to find audiences likely to respond to marketing messages, under the premise that consumers tend to act like their neighbors. PRIZM NE breaks down every ZIP code into 66 lifestyle types, from Bohemian Mix to Suburban Sprawl.


Tacoda CEO Dave Morgan said using such a familiar demographic system would help draw marketers targeting their Web advertising to audiences, not Web pages.


"There's no question that there's an awful lot of advertisers that already understand the value of Claritas targeting," he said. "While behavior is a powerful tool, it's just one of the arrows in a quiver. The whole quiver is taking on much more of an audience-centric dimension."


USAToday.com in February 2003 began asking users for their gender, ZIP code and date of birth. Seven months later it signed with Tacoda to use its Audience Management System to create segments by combining site activity and demographic data gained from the registration process.


Kundanmal said USAToday.com would use AMS as the platform for Precision Targeting ads. The site is one of the top news sources on the Web, drawing 8 million unique visitors in August, according to Nielsen//NetRatings.


Morgan said advertisers should have multiple options for finding audiences. He predicted different advertisers would favor different methods, including the combination of PRIZM NE and site behavior data.


"I'm really excited about using the targeting options together," he said. "I think it's targeting on steroids."


The size of the behavioral targeting market is difficult to gauge. New York research firm eMarketer pegs it at $627 million this year, set to reach $934 million in 2005. EMarketer includes adware makers, like Claria, in its forecast.


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