Demo Targeting Still Dominant At Agencies, Behavioral Tops With Clients

Age- and gender-based demographics -- a staple for targeting consumers in media plans and buys since the 1960s -- is still the predominant targeting criteria used by most ad agency executives, but it is losing luster with brand marketers who are more inclined to use “behavioral” targeting.

The findings, which are based on a survey of 300 marketer and agency respondents conducted by Advertiser Perceptions for Videology, found that two-thirds of agency executives still rely predominantly on demographics, while only 55% of marketers cited demos.

An equal percentage of agency executives said they also utilize “behavioral” targeting, which tracks users past media usage to target them in the future, but 59% of marketers cited behavioral-targeting preferences.

“Contextual” targeting, which defines audiences based on the context of the content or media they are using, was the next most popular form of targeting, cited by 55% of agency and 46% of brand marketing executives.

Interestingly, “sales-based” targeting, which utilizes a user’s actual brand purchasing history, is the least prevalent form of targeting among both agencies and marketers: cited by 42% of and 46% of respondents, respectively

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6 comments about "Demo Targeting Still Dominant At Agencies, Behavioral Tops With Clients".
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  1. Anil Batra from Optizent, December 15, 2016 at 5:07 p.m.

    In my expereince, most of the media buying agencies, do Ratargeting based on the last session and call it behavioral targeting, they don't utlize full power of behvioral targeting.

  2. Stuart Meyler from Beeby Clark + Meyler, December 15, 2016 at 6:28 p.m.

    I see the opposite a lot of the time -- clients have a demo based brief that doesn't align with who is actually buying the product. You see this in the endless infatuation with "millennials" as a target for a range of things they cannot afford or spend very little money on. 

  3. Marcelo Salup from MS Group LLC, December 16, 2016 at 8:19 a.m.

    Totally agree with Stuart Meyler -- I still see briefs where a client will "target" "Women 18-54", meaning, I assume, "hey, get all the adult women you can, what the hell" while many agencies (mine included) would like clients to understand that a 22-year old woman who listens to country music is totally different (messaging wise) from a 22-year old woman who listens to EDM.

  4. Jody Quinn from Edelman, December 16, 2016 at 8:53 a.m.

    As more and more of our clients embrace our approach of putting Communications ahead of Marketing, age-based briefs give way to lifestage personas and preferences. How is it possible or practical to impact any generation "defined" by a 16- or, as in the case of "Boomers", an 18-year spread?

  5. dorothy higgins from Mediabrands WW, December 16, 2016 at 10:58 a.m.

    This headline belies everything I have encountered in 40 (ack) years of media. It is not "either/or" it is "and."  For example, if we wish to target "parents with 3+ children aged 2-17, suburban, in the market for a mini-van" we may find that each media partner or platform has a different universe and different criteria for said definition. We need one common currency for measurement and reporting.  The only common currency might be demography: age/gender with presence of children or income an additional, census-validated screen.  Our default target then for evaluation across myriad partners might need to be "Adults 35-54, presence any children" as the most prevalent and usable measure.  Moreover, if we want to evaluate performance and pricing over time we must use common currency that crosses time then we may default to Adults 25-54. Agencies are not Luddites, but what agencies must do is a better job of the educating clients about a validating process across time and media partners. Behavioral targeting is always our goal and demography must needs be often our tactic. 

  6. Michael Pursel from Pursel Advertising, December 16, 2016 at 4:57 p.m.

    Dorthy, 28 years ago they called it Psychographics. We had studies that divided local populations by behavioral habits and thought patterns.  In some cities there would be 5 seperate groups.  In Seattle for example there were 9, based of course on very diverse population.  Benefit was images and phrasing that would appeal to those groups.  Problem?  The advertiser had to pay for each creative, because what appealed to one group, was not the same for others.  Even if you only targeted 3  groups, you had totally seperate creative.  IT WORKED.  And it cost.  So it went by the wayside.  Most medium market to smaller advertisers then did not see the benefit of spending more to target properly.  Perhaps that has changed. I'm out of creative now, but it is the only way to properly market.  a 25 year old who loves hunting and fishing, drives a Ram Truck and drinks beer is similar to the 55 year old who does the same.  However... EVERY MARKET truly has differences.  We try to devise one size fits all and it is not the optimal path.