By John Weaver
Targeted advertising has emerged as one of the most important marketing tools of the last decade. It relies on data analysis of users or viewers in order to help the advertising company identify the most receptive audience and show advertising only to that demographic. In early forms, the advertising company selected a program or publication that was known to be popular among the desired audience: sports car ads went in Popular Mechanics to appeal to adult males; family wagon ads ran during Family Ties to appeal to adults with children; etc. This still exists, but online activity and mobile device usage has vastly improved the ability of marketers to identify and target key audiences in those mediums. Instead of appealing to broad demographics like adult males or adults with children, marketers can identify much more specific audiences: college-educated women between the ages of 39 and 50 with incomes between $50,000 and $100,000; males between the ages of 14 and 18 that have recently read The Ringer; etc.