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

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The gloves are off
The gloves are off


Liz Deutch, EVP, global director, customer engagement at Draftfcb, 25 years of marketing experience

Demographics remain a critical component of our targeting approaches.

Age still matters. Household income still matters. Ethnicity still matters. These remain leading indicators of how people consume media. However, there is no doubt that the rise of digital technology and social media is transforming how we approach marketing and communications today. Individuals' interests are transparent and data is at our fingertips. It is how and when this information is leveraged in combination with demographics that is most powerful in today's real-time world.

The more robust the data, and the more we layer our targeting approaches, the more relevant and effective we can become in our marketing efforts. So we need to think about how narrow we can make our targeting approaches: start with demographics, then overlay life-stage targeting, interest-based targeting, behavioral targeting, geotargeting. Or, start with behavioral-based or interest-based targeting and then overlay demographics. What is important is that the combination of data types is especially critical as we strive to drive deeper engagement with our audience.

Now more than ever, if we are not relevant then the audience will move on to the next brand, the next conversation. And to be relevant, we still need to understand the demographics of our audience. We need to know, for example, if we are talking to a teen, a boomer or a senior. This information will help us not only be more authentic in our creative ideas but also ensure that we are leveraging the appropriate communications channels.

In today's world, the consumer is in control of how and when they consume media. It is important to understand who we are trying to target in addition to what interests and behaviors they have in common. Relying on interests or behaviors alone could alienate an

important segment. Without an understanding of the demographics, we could miss our mark and therefore an opportunity.

So the question isn't, will interest-based targeting replace demographic targeting? The question is, how can they work together in order to develop the most powerful targeting? That is the huge win in today's model.

Direct Marketing News Decision

Demographics have long been the industry standard for segmenting and targeting specific consumer audiences. However, while demographics are often representative of interests, it is not an exact science and only tells part of the consumer's story. The new prevalence of search data, geotargeting and behavioral targeting is allowing marketers to hone their focus on those consumers most likely to buy a product or service. Demographics may still help marketers who want to cast somewhat of a wide net, but marketers who want to drill down further will likely shift their focus to interest-based targeting.

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