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Behavior V. Demographic

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March 10, 2006

Behavior V. Demographic

Heather Green

John Battelle's post on Google's AdWords service offering demographic data, such as age or income, to advertisers to help them with their purchases, reminds me of a recent conversation I had.

Tracey L. Scheppach, a vice president at ad agency Starcom thinks that, while the trend online has been to help advertisers find the right audiences using behavioral data (what Web page someone looks at, how often they visit a site, where they go as they surf online), demographic data is actually what will win out in the end online.

Why? She says the direct marketing model (think catalogs) has been to look at people through demographic data and that it's a more efficient way to buy ads. She thinks that since the focus is on paying for performance online and metrics of how ad campaigns do, Web sites will do more to figure out who demographically they're serving. How? Probably through cookies or surveys of audiencs.

10:46 AM


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As marketers we know that predicting what a prospect will do (buy) can be based on demographics or behavior... Usually past behavior is a much better indicator of future behavior than demographic.

But if I'm targeting people who "look" like great customers but I don't know their behavior I have to use demographics.

The beauty here is the combination right? Traditionally marketers only had demographic data. Now we can look at the behavior of our best customers and match that to demographics for targeting new customers.

Posted by: Chris Baggott at March 10, 2006 05:20 PM

I think the Demographics data will win out - partly because it can be gathered without violating privacy laws. Firms like Claritas have been providing Geo-Demographic cluster maps for 30 years, based largely on Census data.

Recently, MSN Ad Center managed to merge the MOSAIC system (with about a dozern cluster groups) into Search. AdWords has also provided part of a solution using Demographic targeting of AdSense Publishers. Google's system is still a little bare-bones and does not allow much research. MSN's solution is much better for Research but both are wanting.

I hope to see a more mature crop of Geo-Demographic search tools over the next year or two.

Posted by: WebMetricsGuru at March 12, 2006 09:18 PM

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