There’s self reported data and then there is data that is generated by the actions of the consumer. Compile all of this and you have behavioral data.
People are constantly being asked questions either through web sources or paper sources (and sometimes phone and personal interviews). These answers have always been compiled as ‘self-reported’ data. Just a few years ago, the universe of ‘self-reported’ data represented well less than a quarter of the U.S. households. That made ‘self-reported’ data a bit limited for use as marketing fodder in anything other than the biggest market areas (Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, Houston, Dallas, etc.). Even there, the number of prospects derived from ‘self-reported’ data was usually not significant enough to effectively market for purposes of automotive sales. On a national level, it had its uses, but not so much on a local scale.
With the invention of being able to track the actions taken by a consumer who has been on shopping or shopping informational sites, a new source of has been added to the equation. People leave an electronic trail when they surf the net which identifies their IP (Internet protocol) address. By working with hundreds of data compilers, those IP addresses can be matched to physical addresses which can then be matched to those who live in that household.
The game has changed. Marketing can now be done based on behavior. Direct marketing used in a consistent manner using this kind of data has proven to be much more efficient than relying on models.