YORK, Pa. (AdAge.com) -- Whether you choose to watch "Brothers & Sisters" or "Mad Men" at 10 p.m. on Sunday says a lot about you.
According to psychographic ad targeter Mindset Media, the TV shows you watch can offer marketers key insights into your personality. For instance, very modest people are more likely to watch the blue-collar hero show "Deadliest Catch" while altruistic people tend to prefer cooking shows like "Rachael Ray" and reality shows with happy endings like "The Bachelor."
"Your personality determines what you consume, what TV shows you watch, what products you buy, and all the other decisions you make -- political choices, for example," said Mindset Media CEO Jim Meyer. "We didn't invent psychographics or personality traits -- they are really the things that separate buyer groups where demographics fail."
BMW, Audi and Mercedes buyers, for instance, are a fairly homogeneous demographic group; however, each car appeals to a different type of personality, he said. That's where psychographics come in.
To find out which personalities are attracted to which TV shows, Mindset Media recently analyzed self-reported data from about 25,000 TV viewers across more than 70 TV shows. What they found were common personality traits among many of the shows' audiences of people who answered that they regularly tune in. Only a few mainstream shows like "House" and "Bones" didn't have any single personality that stood out statistically either because the audiences are so broad, or the fact that personality isn't a driver of viewership.
Mindset began the research at the request of marketers who already use their data online to target customers by psychographics or personality mindset online. However, the marketers wanted to know if they could apply the principles of online psychographic media buying to offline media like TV.
Mindset will make the current data available to its clients, but also plans to take an ongoing look at consumers' TV personalities, updating the TV data quarterly and expanding it to include a wider range of shows.
They shared data with Ad Age from seven shows that are on many media buyers' short lists already. Mindset detailed not only what common personality traits they claim each show is more likely to attract, but offered a sample of advertisers that it believes are more likely, or less likely, to appeal to people with those personalities.
(A caveat: Yes, we know and agree that many humble people adore "The Office" and plenty of agenda-following realists love "Mad Men." The study, and story, are about statistical group tendencies; that is, the increased likelihood that a group of people who watch a particular show will tend to have one or more similar personality traits. It is not saying that every individual watcher of "Glee" is open-minded and longs to buy a Volkswagen.)