This paper aims at characterizing the change that occurred in audience conception with the advent of big data technologies. We argue that a good place to analyze this change is in the marketing techniques geared to capturing the characteristics of consumers of contents and goods. Some of these techniques are existing statistical tools applied to new kinds of data, others, like predictive analytics, are radically new. Our contention is that online individual actions are now studied, predicted, and managed in the way macroeconomic parameters were analyzed in the past. By changing the perspective on the individual and the group, these new technologies further transform the manner in which an audience is imagined. The conceptions of modern collectives once defined by top-down, broadly defined demographic categories, are therefore transformed or, rather, deconstructed.
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- Big data
- Digital audiences
- Imagined audiences
- Predictive analytics