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Thursday, March 23, 2006

Simmons Chief: Behavioral To Supplant Demos

Simmons Chief: Behavioral To Supplant Demos
by Kristin Sidorak, Thursday, Mar 23, 2006 7:47 AM EST

BEHAVIORAL TARGETING, A PRACTICE THAT has been transforming the way marketers target consumers online, is poised to become a big factor in the media world at large, potentially replacing traditional demographic data as the basis for media planning. At least that's what Bill Engel, co-CEO of Simmons Market Research Bureau, told a group of marketing executives last week during a keynote at the 2006 Promotion Marketing Association Conference in Chicago.

"Targeting has become more complex than ever before," says Engel, whose company has transformed itself over the past several years to reflect that change. Once a big player in traditional, demographic-based audience estimates for magazine planners, Simmons in recent years has developed and adapted a wide variety of targeting tools derived from consumer behavior including actual product purchases and media usage. Such behaviors, asserts Engel, trump simple demographic analysis--which assumes that age, sex, income, and educational attributes are good proxies for such behavior.

"Given the proliferation of brands, a consumer who is a value shopper for one category may be a luxury shopper for another category, which seems perhaps counterintuitive," cites Engel as one example.

In another, he cites a consumer who shops at Saks Fifth Avenue to buy high-end haute couture for a ball, but who goes to low-end retailers such as TJ Maxx or Marshalls to buy white polo shirts. Thus, advertisers must understand the luxury versus value-based purchaser, and that they may be one and the same, he suggests.

According to Engel, the big picture concerning behavioral targeting from the advertisers' perspective is that they have their brand, they know who is buying their brand, and their questions are; what media should I buy from, and what messaging should I use? Moreover, he says those ad messages need to factor in what medium a consumer might be exposed to at any given time.

"The technology exists today for a number of clients to target behaviors," says Engel, touting Simmons' Television BehaviorGraphics study as an example. The BehaviorGraphics system integrates Simmons' National Consumer Survey data with actual TV viewing behavior from Nielsen Media Research's national TV ratings.

Some research purists are critical of such data integrations, but research pragmatists are beginning to embrace the practice as a means of correlating consumer behavior with media usage. By correlating Simmons' surveys on consumer behavior, attitudes, lifestyles, and product usage with Nielsen's tracking of TV viewing behavior, Engel claims that advertisers can more effectively target the audiences of national TV shows.

Engel says the application has two benefits: 1) Selecting media buys that target consumers more effectively; and 2) Scheduling advertising messages that are more relevant to those consumers.


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