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Free audience demographics

Posted by Michael Bloch in web marketing (Saturday January 6, 2007 )

Ever wondered about the average household income of your site visitors? Perhaps their education level? A new online service offers free audience demographics beyond the basic information webmasters usually obtain from site traffic statistics packages.

In order to determine the gender and other more personal information regarding our site audiences, it usually requires running a survey, or employing special research firms – horribly time consuming and/or expensive for the average site owner.

Late last year, a company called Quantcast publicly released a free service they refer to as “Open Internet Ratings”.

Quantcast states the service will assist web content publishers small and large in obtaining audience measurement reports that were previously only available to big budget sites.

On the flip side, it will also provide advertisers an added research tool for planning media buys in the “long tail” segment of web sites in their target niche.

The term “long tail” in relation to the web is best explained as the phenomenon of a handful of sites capturing most Internet traffic or inbound links compared to the majority of sites having drastically lower traffic and lower numbers of inbound links – with the latter known as the long tail.

These long tails sites often fly under the radar of media buyers, mainly because it’s not economical to plan, buy and maintain campaigns on smaller online destinations – unless you can make one buy across multiple sites. Hold that thought.

If you check the QuantCast site, your own site will more than likely be listed already if it’s been around for a while, but the audience demographic and traffic information may be way out. It certainly is for Taming the Beast.net and the few other sites I checked. You can then choose to “quantify” your site by adding a snippet of javascript code to your pages and then more accurate tracking will start occurring (something I haven’t opted to do at this point).

It doesn’t stop there though. I was curious as to where the ultimate payoff would be for QuantCast since they are giving away all this information. Their goal is to establish an ad network whereby large media buyers can run campaigns across multiple long tail sites. So this “quantifying” code is the first step to get you interested in joining their ad network when that comes to fruition.

Aside from the novelty of being able to gain a clearer picture of your site visitor demographics and perhaps using that information to provide to potential advertisers who make inquiries; hats off to the Quantcast team for a very clever strategy in getting their ad network up and running.

Launching anything new can be a challenge on the web, but they’ve done their homework and found a way to get publishers to take the first step towards a relationship with their company. Once the ad network component is implemented; if their pricing, revenue share arrangements and infrastructure are solid, expect to see this company do very well and become a major player in long tail ad marketplaces.

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