There's a fair amount of talk about 'social graphs' and how to correctly measure the amount of traffic to a site in order to judge exactly who is coming to a site, how long they stay, how often they come back and, in general, what visitors do on a site. Mitch Ratcliffe over at ZDNet makes an interesting point about exactly who those vistors may be in the next few years.
Even the titans of business are unsure of how to use the untapped potential of social networks, atleast from an advertising standpoint, to somehow turn those millions of members into millions of dollars by getting them to click and buy. I have to admit that I'm not sure exactly why lately in general a large portion of the users either: don't have disposable income right now, or are wary of buying online. Possibly all the stories of personal data theft are discouraging more people from buying online. Possibly costs are up and spending is down.
I think, along with Mr. Ratcliffe, that as these demographics change it will require a shift in strategy. It shouldn't be a surprise that when a market changes you may have to change your advertising. Will there be a shift not only in advertising techniques, but also in who we target more often than not in the ads? Will print advertising go back up? Will 'flashy' ads become less effective than those with clear, large print?
It seems a no-brainer that 'know who you're selling to' would make targeted selling easier. If Mr. Ratcliffe's observation holds true, we have a good idea of who we'll be selling to in the future. If you currently collect this kind of data, and can share it, when you started viewing this data, were you surprised when you found out that who is visting your site isn't who you thought it was?
Addition: This just popped up. Private Matters: Senate Hearing To Debate Web-Based Targeted Ads I'll be keeping an eye on that.