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"Audience profile" is a term used to describe the characteristics of those who read, view, or listen to a given medium, such as a television channel or a magazine. Such a profile generally contains economic information, such as approximate income, home ownership, car ownership, and buying patterns. It may also contain information about social habits and geographic location. An audience profile can be particularly important to advertisers who want to display their advertisements where people likely to buy their products or services will see them. General social and economic information about the audiences of various media sources can greatly help advertisers choose the most effective placement for their advertisements.
An audience profile can be helpful to advertisers for a variety of different reasons. Economic information about an audience allows advertisers to judge whether or not readers, viewers, or listeners have the financial resources or the need for the products or services offered. Knowledge about home or car ownership, for instance, provides information about whether or not advertisers should try to sell home or car products. An audience profile may also reveal that many readers, viewers, or listeners have different primary languages and that simply-phrased advertisements may be better than particularly clever ones.
Some advertising companies have departments entirely dedicated to gathering information about their audiences while others purchase such information from third parties. Some of that information may be in the form of detailed audience profiles, but sometimes only demographic information, such as age, gender, and race, is needed. Audience profiles are central to the business plans of many advertisers, as it is difficult to make informed decisions about where to advertise without knowing one's audience relatively well. Without researching or purchasing such information, a great deal of the advertising process would need to be guesswork.
In some cases, new media sources try to present an image and provide information or entertainment that appeals to a specific audience profile. Many businesses and media sources, for instance, try to build a certain type of audience based on the content they provide. The desired audience profile is, for instance, particularly important during website design, particularly when the site is selling a product or service. Designing a website with a certain target audience in mind often results in a site that is easier to use and less intimidating than one designed at random or with no particular plan for the audience.