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The First Rule of App Club: We Talk About Retargeting (Yep, It’s the Second Rule, too)Advertising has been for some time been infected with a kind of ageism — targeting people based on their age grouping.

But not the kind of demographic targeting (using consumers’ age and gender to make media decisions) is being seriously questioned by advertisers. The question is: Is demographic targeting actually effective?

While a November, 2016 survey by Videology revealed that 62 percent of executives said they used “demo targeting, demo-based targeting was rated among the least effective. Consider this: only 40 percent of respondents from the agency and marketing industries suggest that the method is actually effective. In fact, demographic targeting came in fourth out of the five methods studied.

“In some ways, the survey suggests lack of enthusiasm for targeting in general,” reports eMarketer. “Only one form of targeting—behavioral—was called effective by a majority of respondents. The executives in the survey didn’t even express much confidence in using demographic targeting in concert with other forms of targeting: Just 46 percent said a combination approach was effective.”

Videology is not the only company recognizing some dissatisfaction with demographic-based targeting. One potential reason? The demographic groups are often incorrect.

“(A study of) digital video ads by TubeMogul, which examined whether or not such ads were “on-target” for their designated age and gender, found that less than half of digital video ads during the period studied reached their intended consumer groups in the 35-54 age group,” according to eMarketer. “Less than half of digital video ads in TubeMogul’s study were also on-target for their target gender.”

Hard to tell, basically, whether it’s the demographic targeting — or the fact that it’s often missing its target — that’s to blame.

In any event, demographic targeting obviously needs more work. Not only does age group targeting need to be fine-tuned, but one serious question remains: is it any better to target by age than by interest? The jury is out. And hopefully, not for long.

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