The vast majority of data available is not gathered from primary sources, like brand or retail sites. It’s modeled from relatively small data samples that are gathered from primary sources. It’s an extrapolation – pure and simple. So, while a brand may be trying to go after in-market camera shoppers, the data you’re buying for them may merely be based on a faulty assumption assembled from a miniscule group of actual camera shoppers. The providers take what little insight they can gather, determine a common thread, and then create a bucket that’s labeled “camera shopper.”

There is no doubt that these data providers can help advertisers access audiences of the sizes they claim, but it is doubtful the entire audience matches exactly what the advertiser is looking for. It’s widely accepted that targeting has its limitations as a strategy, because the more precise the desired audience, the smaller the pool of potential customers. But when you think about the rampant inaccuracies in modeled data, it’s clear that the pool might be even shallower than many expected. That should frighten advertisers spending to hit what they believe are their target consumers. The next time you hear about an anomaly indicating how 40% of “new moms” are male, check the source of the data being examined. Chances are, it is modeled data, not primary data. If you are wondering how reliable your data is, give Larry John Wright a call. We can help.