It doesn’t take an Applied Economics and Management or a Communications undergrad at Cornell University to observe that media firms and marketers have progressed from defining its audience with mass media and marketing to a more segmented customized world. As Joseph Turow discussed in his article, Audience Construction and Culture Production: Marketing Surveillance in the Digital Age, media firms are positioning themselves to attract certain kinds of people based on personalities, family backgrounds, social relationships, context of viewing, and class positions.
However, it should be made distinct that technologies such as data mining and marketing surveillance are not the causes of this segmented market. The cause of targeted advertising is deeply rooted within the concept of customer relationship management (CRM), which is direct marketing and a selling approach that follows the needs and desires of a particular niche. Turow does not state the practices of consumer surveillance as the reasons behind behavioral marketing. More appropriately, I think of consumer surveillance as a really handy tool that media firms and marketers hold dearly onto in order to perpetuate the CRM model.
Instead, Turow glorifies and embraces an underlying symbiotic relationship between advertisers and consumers of media content as the driving force behind a more targeted market. I view this symbiosis as a delicate struggle and balance for power. Turow defines power as an equivalent to the possession of resources. As consumers allow researchers to collect and study data on their particular media consumption, marketers hope to produce advertising content that actually matter and be relevant to so many fleeing and saturated minds.
These attempts give way towards the so-called “industrial construction of audiences”. The media industry wish to develop a most meticulous and elaborate blueprint of the who, what, and where of each beloved consumer. It is within their hopes to further construct a more detailed and efficient roadmap for the yellow brick road to their audiences.