Consumers are no longer characterized by demographic thanks to search marketing. Instead, they are defined by interest. Search allows motivated users to be matched with a brand.

This was the view of Colin Petrie-Norris, Managing Director, International Specific Media, speaking at the FT Digital Media & Broadcasting conference this morning.

Petrie-Norris shared a list of items that he’d searched for in the last few days with the audience. These included a number of innocent items intended as gifts that he said that he would rather not share with his wife to make the point that Google knows more about a user than their friends and family.


A similar point was raised by Sir Martin Sorrell in the Q&A session after his keynote speech.

Google now has thousands of data point on an individuals search habits. Why is it then, a member of the audience asked, that Google isn’t using this data to better target customers in real time search.

Sorrell said that when Google CEO Eric Schmidt spoke at WPP’s strategy meeting last year he said that Google planned to target ads based on a predictive behavior.

But for now, the technology simply isn’t there yet to analyze data and serve a result within a screen refresh according to Petrie-Norris.

The issue of personal privacy was raised several times during the morning’s sessions. The conclusion was that absolute transparency and opt-in is critical to the success.

“Why wouldn’t you want better targeting advertising?” said Stephen Nuttall, Commercial Director, BSkyB.