New Technology Allows Marketers to Target Buyers Down to the Prospect's Tiniest Attributes:
When the online display industry got started over a decade ago, advertisers were focused on buying "eyeballs." You tried to reach as many as possible for your budget, but targeting was rudimentary. To get to women, for example, you would buy an ad placement on an online women's magazine.
Today, with real-time bidding and exchanges -- and tools for analyzing petabytes of behavioral, contextual and sales data -- advertisers buy not "eyeballs" but "audiences." They go after targeted shoppers who are in the market for certain goods or are likely to be interested in a certain brand. Display-ad networks like Yahoo, AOL, Google Display Network, Audience Science, ValueClic or Specific Media provide a list of audience segments, and media buyers choose the ones they want to target. It might be "sedan shoppers" or "digital-camera buyers."