Can purchasing data assist in targeting media spend?

What does purchase behavior tell us that demographics do not?

Tracy Waring and Lisa Pollard

Current practice in TV planning and buying usually involves defining the media target audience in terms of demographic characteristics, largely because information on the viewing behaviour of demographic sub-groups is readily available from BARB data. The viewing behaviour of the sub-group is then contrasted with that of one of the main audience categories used as a trading 'currency' in the purchase of airtime. However, the advertising strategy, as distinct from the media brief, usually starts from a description of the target audience in terms of its purchasing behaviour – for example, to reinforce the loyalty of existing brand users or to persuade non-users to buy the brand. The media target described in terms of demographic characteristics is simply a surrogate descriptor.