The Program

TechStars Blog

2nd July 2012

The Death of Demographics

Author: Chris Thorne of Spot Influence


A few months ago, our Co-Founder Dave Angulo did a presentation at the Defrag conference regarding “The Death of Demographics” [See SlideShare deck at bottom]. Recently, I was chatting with the president of an advertising agency, and he mentioned a similar theme. When describing our data, he felt that our technology could revolutionize the industry by providing access to people data at scale – eliminating the need for generalizations of large audiences. We’ve gotten a really positive response from people regarding this topic, so I think it’s time for a blog post…

Traditionally, demographic analysis has involved dealing with generalized abstractions of people, and then picking a subset to ask detailed questions in order to understand them better. A great example of this is what Time magazine calls, The Smartphone Mom. According to Time, “Web firms are collecting personal information about moms, including what times of the day they’re logged on, if they are connected from home or on the road, and how often browsing turns into a purchase. Firms such as Procter & Gamble, Walt Disney, Comcast and AT&T… want to use that kind of data to tailor ads to that demographic.”

Demographic data can be very useful for marketers, but it’s limited in the sense that the insights are only generalizations. For example: “52% of Moms said they use their smartphone within 5 minutes of waking up” (Life360). As a business, don’t you want to know who those 52% actually are? Specifically, what are their interests & where can you engage with them online? Are there influencers within that specific group of Moms?

These signals have existed online for some time, but up until now, technology has prevented them from being analyzed at scale. Generalizations were made because understanding the interests of millions of people, at the granular level of each individual, was impossible. There was simply too much detailed data to provide business with actionable insights. With the technology we’ve developed, we’re about to change that…

By organizing the web around people, Spot Influence is able to determine who the influencers are for any subject/search online, where these individuals post public content (Twitter, Blogs, LinkedIn, etc.), and what their interests & influential topics are. This data has the potential to drastically change how companies market their product & gain insights into their actual audience. Generalizations no longer need to be made. We can’t wait to see the impact this technology has on Marketing!

Check out our presentation from Defrag 2011 below, and let us know your thoughts on this post.

Death of Demographics

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