Is interest-based targeting replacing demographic targeting as the new model?

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The gloves are off
The gloves are off


Gary Reisman, principal and founder of NewMediaMetrics, more than 25 years of marketing experience

Interest-based targeting is, and should absolutely be, replacing demographic targeting as the new model. Direct marketers have known this for years and have been profiling and targeting people based on their behaviors and interests for a while. It's now time for all marketers to move to interest-based targeting across all platforms.

We all know now that people “pull” to them the things that they are most interested in and that are most important to them. Just look at Google searches, where people “pull” to them anything in the world of interest to them.

Today, marketers are using proven methods for defining interests and consumers' attachments to services and brands, and using these methods to directly target individuals based on their interests. Why? Because if someone is interested in something, they are more likely to engage and more likely to buy. It's about relevance!

Technology, data proliferation, modeling and emotional attachment techniques have lowered the bar for interest-based targeting.

Demographics have become completely irrelevant and obsolete as a form of targeting, and we need to move away from it. It was the most acceptable way to target consumers in the 1950's. It was the easiest way to select consumer segment and measure impressions. Demographics were put in place and became a currency because media execs could make justifiable “buys” and post-analyze them.

I ask: When was the last time you saw an 18-to-49-year-old? Or even two 25-year-olds who are identical in their needs and interests?

You can have an 18-year-old sitting next to a 45-year-old both listening to “The Stones” on their iPods because they both like classic rock. Marketing is about a mind-set, not about an age.

One 20-year-old might gravitate to Hollister while another likes Old Navy. Their preferences are based on their sense of style, brand affinity and a host of other factors. They will buy the brand that aligns with their interests the most.

The world is more complex than it was when demographic targeting was introduced. At the same time, the world has become “flat,” not just from a global perspective, but in the way we can target communities of people around the world based on their interests.

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