Are Sales Demographics Really Important?


(By Marc Greenspan) Many stations are penalized because a portion, maybe even a majority, of its audience is outside of the 25-54 demographic. As most of the people reading this already recognize, we need to convey the value of consumers who are not 25-54.

Typically, this has a heavier impact on the stations that skew older than those that skew younger. Adults that age out of the 25-54 demographic still buy products and services. While this proves our point anecdotally, facts are what will make the difference to advertisers.

The question we should really be asking now is, “Do demos even matter?” Using a person’s age was the original segmentation tool, and it allowed an advertiser to focus on the most likely target consumers and not pay to reach people who are unlikely to purchase their product or service.

Advertisers are still selecting their advertising platforms, especially broadcast, by looking at the demographic efficiency. But does the advertiser really care if their buyer is between 25 and 54 years old? No – they care about reaching people who are likely to purchase the product or service that they’re offering.

Would a car dealer prefer to reach a 35-year-old who is not considering buying a car anytime soon or a 56-year-old who is planning to buy a car within the next year? The answer is obvious.

We’re not saying that demo segmentation is bad. In fact, it’s necessary for advertisers to get the biggest bang for their buck. So what is the compromise?

At Research Director, Inc., we sometimes stray from demographic segmentation in favor of “qualitative segmentation.” Using one of the various qualitative tools available, we find the characteristics of the people who are the advertiser’s typical consumer.

Here is the step that many sales reps forget: Once you are segmenting by qualitative category, you no longer need to segment by demographic group. Most qualitative tools are based on a sample of Adults 18+, and that is the demographic group we recommend. This is especially crucial if a significant portion of your station’s audience is outside of the advertiser’s target demographic group. In other words, keep your demo as broad as possible.

Will you get pushback from the advertiser? Maybe. However, selling the benefits of qualitative segmentation over demographic segmentation is key. You can also use qualitative segmentation as a tie-breaker when your station has the same AQH Rating as your competitor. It is a recipe for victory.

This column is part of a series titled “Growing the Radio Pie.” To view past articles, visit The Ratings Experts at Research Director, Inc. online here.

Marc Greenspan is the CEO and founding partner of Research Director, Inc. He can be reached at 410-295-6619 x11 or by email at [email protected]. Research Director, Inc. offers consulting services to media companies to help them grow their audience, ratings, and revenue. Read Marc’s Radio Ink archives here.


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