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Friday, February 23, 2007

The Truism of Knowing Your Audience

It's becoming more and more difficult to target consumers with advertising. Just ask former and current clients of traditional media. The concept of cohorts, defined as a group of subjects - most often humans from a given generation - defined by experiencing an event - typically birth - in particular time span, is one of the reasons. The splintering of audience and the scattering of their media consumption is at the heart of the advertising challenge.

Bridge Ratings has spent considerable time and money studying one of these cohorts - Gen-Y - over the past five years and have what we believe to be a fairly honest and eye-opening understanding of this group's media interests and needs and the best way for advertisers and content producers to reach them. (Gen-Y typically refers to those born between 1981 and 1999).

We've also been one of the few research organizations to dissect the podcast universe. After a rocky start and terrestrial radio's quick acceptance of the medium, podcasting is gaining ground as a viable manner to extend its reach, solidify its brand and improve its distribution. While there are certain roadblocks to the medium's expansion to a significant percentage of the masses, podcasting - or netcasting - is becoming one of the advertising solutions in reaching the hard-to-reach Gen-Y.

Fellow research firm eMarketer estimates that advertisers will spend $400 million on podcast advertising by 2011 - up from $80 million last year. And there have been numerous articles written about advertising solutions to reach Gen-Y on MySpace, YouTube and other such media where Gen-Y congregates. Yet, none of the 'experts' in advertising seem to know this audience well enough to make that $80 million or $400 million effective.

Based on what I've learnt when experiencing the advertising on these Gen-Y gathering spots is that commercial content, production and length seem generally not to be customized to the tastes of those that are trying to be reached. We understand through out Bridge Ratings work that 'commercials' of virtually any kind are potentially a turn-off to this hard-to-reach cohort and they will even give up or use less their beloved MySpace or YouTube if commercialization gets in the way of their experience. But there are ways to make it work - ways that have been suggested by the Gen-Y peers we study.

The point here is that billions are spent on advertising to try to reach Gen-Y and there is a growing interest in podcasting as a platform for such things. But all of it will be so much dust in the wind, ineffective audio or video, if clients, agencies and producers don't take the time to know this audience.

Through the years, understanding the consumer has always been at the forefront of marketing. Today, however, more than ever, knowing your audience is a critical component to being effective with advertising - even to the point of having your target audience fully embrace the product and its benefits.

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