Every marketer worth his/her salt, knows that they need a really robust behavioural and attitudinal audience segmentation to provide insight and directional influence for product development, content and marketing efforts. But with the rise and rise of digital as a credible medium in the marketing mix - a major audience haze is starting to settle over us.
What is this haze you ask? There's been not a word of it in any of the marketing press or forums. Noticed or not, it will soon become the next big topic (my first 2009 prediction) of brands, media companies and agencies alike.
Digital mdia companies are becoming increasingly competent at segmenting their audience around internet and site usage/attitude and behaviours. With worldclass tools such as Atlas and Omniture at their disposal, they'd be crazy not to be! In tandem, brands have been extremely savvy at audience insight at segmentation for years. Bringing these two audience segmentations together, are generalised linkings of consumers' offline behaviour and attitudes to their online activities. But no online media company has yet managed to articular a tight and accurate link that cross-correlates specific consumer segments offline with specific site behavioural or lifestyle segments online. Notice how everyone's talking about their own audience? And somehow loosely link it to the brands - usually by the omnipresent Demographics.
This is the audience haze - a murky no-man's land. In order to rise above this haze and gain mainstream credibility alongside TV and print, the main digital media companies need to be the star marketers. Reverse the way they do their segmentations: Lead with their advertisers' audiences and then link them into their own. Once this starts, digital can genuinely start meaning more than just clicks and CPM's. It will sit proudly along side other mediums as brand platforms and builders.