Behavioral Targeting vs. Demographics

In the current post on Metrics Insider, Josh Chasin argues that behavioral targeting is not the be-all and end-all, that demographics is alive and well. He calls demographics “the targeting concept that wouldn’t die.” He says further that “more than half of U.S. ad dollars are placed against traditional demographic targets.”

If behavioral targeting marketers, the ones who focus on clicks, are missing opportunities by ignoring demographics, think how much more they are missing by ignoring the true behavioral indicator, purchase behavior. Imagine a scale of customer behavior that runs from active on one end to passive on the other. At the active end is a customer’s purchase behavior. At the passive end are their demographics. In between are their clicks from browsing activities. The clicks are active, but not as committed as a purchase. Remember the old story about bacon and eggs: the chicken is involved but the pig is committed.

We know from several years of analytics experience that the closer you get to the active end of the scale, the more accurate are the predictions. The clicks and demographics are valuable, useful pieces, but past purchase behavior is still the best foundation for offers to existing customers.

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