“What does an 18-year old male have in common with a 49-year old female?” and Other Classic Media Punch Lines

I find it very strange to still encounter marketers who rigidly cling to a broad audience demographic as their key media target. For example, if they have identified their key target audience as Adults aged 25 to 54 the success of all media delivered is measured against the reach of that group.

This is in spite of the fact that they know a significant percentage of this audience may not be their customers (or even their potential customers_. They also know that a percentage of their customers will fall outside of that group. In short, they are applying a 40-year old yard stick to 21st Century media buying

A friend mine happens to be one of the most senior media researchers in the country. He also happens to be the funniest, as media researchers go (I don’t know if the bar is set that high really_. In a meeting we both attended some 20-years ago, he challenged a dogmatic marketer’s target audience of Adults, aged 18 to 49. He asked this marketer, “What does an 18 year old male have in common with a 49 year old female?” A fair question, however, the marketer laughed off with his comments, “This is the target audience, stop being funny”.

My friend then asked, “Come to think of it, what does a 49 year old male have in common with another 49 year old male? (other than age and gender of course_.” He then said, “What if one of the males was Stephen Harper and the other male was Jack Layton?” (he actually said, “what if one of the men were Brian Mulroney and the other Bob Rae”, but I decided to update it. (This conversation happened nearly 20 years ago, politics -and politicians – have changed, and many reading may be too young to remember the players and references prior to 2000_.

His point was this. Save for a handful of gender and age specific products, for a great many marketers, age and gender- even location or income- are not as important as attitude, interests, behaviour and purchasing preferences.

20 years ago, the options for delivering media based on someone’s expressed interests and purchase behaviour were limited to direct mail, classified ads, directories and point of purchase advertising. Today, our options have increased and will only continue to do so.

The Internet has allowed marketers to aggregate and identify consumers by their self-defined interests, searches, emails, behaviour, purchases and more. Roughly 6 years ago, Media Experts was one of the first Canadian agencies to apply this knowledge and use behavioural targeting, and re-targeting, to deliver our online display ads to “customers and potential customers” rather than a broader demographic. I find it interesting that, at about the same time, we started to apply our proprietary Sniper™ distillation process to traditional media buying, applying a layer of customer data to traditional media measure. This layer yields a more accurate picture of audience delivery as well as offline customer contact metrics that are comparable to online metrics.

As the Tradigital™ agency, Media Experts is keenly aware of the impact of digital media on traditional media and vice versa. For example, television advertising can impact the volume of branded searches and television program viewing can impact the volume of social media chatter about a show, its characters and storylines (conduct a quick search in twitter for “Jersey Shore” for innumerable tweets like “I’m now watching Jersey Shore” and “Friday night is jersey shore night, yay”_.

We are also very aware that the methods for linking these activities are increasing and the tools for tracking this convergence are evolving as I type. At Media Experts, we envision a future in which television audiences are valued not only by traditional media measurement, but also by their social engagement while watching, their social media profile (including interests and likes), their search patterns and desire to engage digitally with advertisers.

The future is closer than you think. Stay tuned