04/28/2008 10:00 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Killing Sacred Cows Online

One of the last vestiges of hope for traditional marketing outlets, consultants and legacy media companies is to fan the two myths that allows them to continue to draw advertising and marketing dollars -- the myth of demographics online and the myth of age online.

The first questions we get here at Common Sense NMS when we first meet with clients, be they a progressive organization, cause or candidate, we often hear some initial concerns, 'isn't it just young people online' and 'aren't they all just in the big cities and on the coasts?"

We often smile because it seems these clients, with all good intentions, seem to feel that their clients, or supporters, are the one group remaining firmly stuck in 2002 while the rest of the world social networks, Twitters and emails their days away.

This week, we saw two more pieces of collective wisdom that say to us, the future isn't online -- it's the present.

As part of research for a potential client, a congressional candidate in South Carolina, the question about how effective would social networks prove to be in a South Carolina district. In this case, there is a Democratic Primary and the vote turn out will be small -- it was our opinion that a minimum investment in social networks, literally $5,000, could return financially and terms of actual votes.

We discovered that in this rural South Carolina district there were over 62,000 Facebook users over the age of 18 -- 62,000 potential voters in a rural district. Even we, the new media guys, were pretty surprised at the size of that number. We can target those Facebook users right down to zip codes -- something our Director of Social Networks and Cool New Media Tools, Max Bernstein, did with great success for Bill Richardson in Iowa this past winter.

The second interesting piece of data was the release of age demographics over at Daily Kos, a top online political community. Broken into five year segments, 20-24, 25-29 and so forth, the research found that the #1 segment was 45-49 years old and the #2 segment was 50-54 with #3 being a tie between 35-39 and 40-49.

In total, just under half of Daily Kos readers are between 35 -59. That used to be the largest demographic for newspapers, clearly those people are getting their news somewhere else these days.

For all of the traditional outlets efforts to minimize what is happening online, the final decision will rest in the hands of the advertisers. Advertising is, ultimately, the art of presenting your company or product to potential consumers where they are and in such a way that they'll seek you out for more information or to buy from you.

Outdoor advertising, for example, presumes your potential clients are driving a lot.

But, once upon a time, everyone looking for entertainment looked in magazines for the latest gossip, or listened to the radio for the latest songs, those people are online.

Or take America's game, baseball, this year Major League Baseball will let you watch every out of market game for $119 on your computer; will that be every game soon?

The cow is out of the barn and has been for some time, or should I say the consumer, and trust me, they're not going back in. Shut the doors and move online.