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

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The gloves are off
The gloves are off


Michael Benedek, president and CEO of Datonics, more than 15 years of marketing experience

There's no denying the obvious: that interest-based targeting is a natural step in the growth and continual advancement of online advertising. However, in a game where data rules, targeting 1.0 — also known as demographic- based targeting — is a useful complement to behavioral data approaches. Think of it as macro-targeting and micro-targeting. The two work toward the same goal of providing the most relevant ads to online consumers at the most appropriate times.

Let's say you are a sports shoe company who has just unveiled a new and high-priced running sneaker. You are now able to serve ads to active runners (via interest-based technology) who are currently in the market to buy your product. Through demographics-based data, you have the added ability to increase your relevancy by targeting a higher household income group, and in Venn diagram fashion, create a sweet spot, or group of consumers who are most likely to purchase your new high-end footwear. In the same vein, you may also use demo-based data to vary the creative approach you use when delivering relevant advertisements to male consumers versus female consumers.

Essentially, interest-based targeting and demographic-based targeting may work well together to help advertisers reach the most relevant audience. It's a simple matter of logic. If you are presented with a large amount of information (interest-based) to work with, and that information is followed up with the opportunity to further organize it all with demographics data, wouldn't you take the opportunity to better streamline using all of the information available to you?

This symbiotic relationship can also be compared to the manner in which messages are currently conveyed across multiple platforms such as print, radio, outdoor, etc. While each, individually, is an effective means of reaching your audience, it makes a lot of sense to utilize all forms available to you to broadcast your message. While interest-based targeting data is readily available and a must-have for online marketers seeking to reach a relevant target audience, demographic targeting is not going to go away. Instead, it will be integrated with behavioral data in a way that will allow marketers to pinpoint and reach their target audiences with far greater precision.

Demographics such as gender, median age, education level, household income, etc., will always remain a useful complement to other targeting methods and approaches. Consumers want to and deserve to see advertisements that are relevant to their individual needs, and are more likely to respond positively to such an ad and ultimately buy the product. Leveraging demographic data as a complement to the essential interest-based targeting data out there will help marketers achieve this worthy objective.

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