AN OVERBROAD PATENT ON ad targeting based on demographic profiles of website visitors - This application from Tonemedia, Inc. seeks to patent the idea of...Determining user characteristic, inferring a demographic profile based on this characteristic and showing an advertisement based on the demographic profile of the website visitor! 10 minutes of your time can help narrow US patent applications before they become patents. Follow @askpatents on twitter to help.

QUESTION - Have you seen anything that was published before 2/7/2012 that discusses:

  • Using user characteristics to select a demographic profile for a website visitor, and showing ads based on that demographic profile

If so, please submit evidence of prior art as an answer to this question. We welcome multiple answers from the same individual.

EXTRA CREDIT - Using content preference of user as a characteristic to determine user profile, or correlating a bunch of users to generate demographic profiles.

TITLE: Demographic profiling to select website advertisements

Summary: [Translated from Legalese into English] A method for presenting an online ad to a website visitor based on a linking the user to a demographic profile and selecting an ad based on that demographic profile.

  • Publication Number: US20130204709 A1
  • Application Number: US 13/367,442
  • Assignee: Tonemedia / Cellfish, Inc.
  • Prior Art Date: Seeking prior Art predating 2/7/2012
  • Open for Challenge at USPTO: Open through 2/4/2014
  • Link to Google Prior Art Search - "Find Prior Art"

Claim 1 requires each and every step below:

A computer-implemented method of presenting an ad from an ad server to a visitor of a site available from a server comprising the steps of:

  1. Determining a characteristic parameter associated with the visitor based on an action of the visitor at said site;

    1. Selecting a demographic profile for said visitor based on said characteristic parameter;
  2. Selecting by said ad server at least one ad associated with said demographic profile; and

  3. Presenting the selected ad to said visitor on said site.

In English this means:

A method of presenting an advertisement to a website visitor, comprising:

  1. Measuring any parameter associated with the visitor based on an action of the visitor on the site (so presumably simply the IP address doesn't count);

  2. Selecting a demographic profile of user based on measured parameter;

  3. Selecting an ad basedo the demographic profile; and

  4. Presenting the selected ad to the visitor on the website.

Good prior art would be evidence of a system that did each and every one of these steps prior to 2/7/2012

You're probably aware of ten pieces of art that meet this criteria already... separately, the applicant is claiming creating demographic profiles by correlating a user characteristic across a bunch of users.

"Typical concordance between preferences for various singers and various target segments" from the Applicant

What is good prior art? Please see our FAQ.

Want to help? Please vote or comment on submissions below. We welcome you to post your own request for prior art on other questionable US Patent Applications.

  • 1
    It would be better if the template encouraged claim elements to be labeled (if at all): a) b) c) rather than 1. 2. 3. It is already unclear to people that all elements of a claim are required to infringe that claim. Adding arabic numerals within an aribic numeral numbered claim doesn't help to clarify, in my view, especially in an otherwise word-for-word "quote" of the claim. If there is a meta place for the comment I would be happy to delete it here.
    – George White
    Nov 8, 2013 at 23:34
  • I agree with @GeorgeWhite. By the way, where can I find the template? Please bear with me, I'm a "newbie".
    – Daniel K.
    Nov 14, 2013 at 20:33
  • 1
    It is in the meta section of the Ask Patents site. meta.patents.stackexchange.com/questions/47/…
    – George White
    Nov 14, 2013 at 23:14
  • @GeorgeWhite I agree with you and D.Sachse. This is apparently a limitation of the markup language used to render the questions. I'll talk to Stack Exchange to see whether it is possible to add this feature. Also, probably best to ask this as a separate question on Meta (so we can point developers at Stack Exchange to it) Nov 14, 2013 at 23:35
  • @D.Sachse I believe you can also "edit" this question and copy the question text into a Word document. Then make the modifications to reflect your patent application and post it back on the site as a new question. Nov 14, 2013 at 23:38

2 Answers 2


This describes Google's "Google Display Network" from 2009, which sorts users into demographics based on their behavior, so that advertisers can show ads that are relevant to that demographic.


From the site:

"For example, if someone frequently visits sites that have a majority of female visitors, we may associate her browser's cookie with the “female” demographic category. With this information, you can choose to show more ads that are relevant to women as she browses sites across the Google Display Network, exactly the same way you can currently show ads related to other categories like sports or gardening."

  • 1
    Good find, unfortunately the cited post (posted 2012-09-29, so still before the prior-art date, but not 2009) also states "Because the interests and inferred demographics associated with a particular browser are based on recently visited sites on the Google Display Network, and not on user data, these categories may change over time." This may mean the claimed part "based on an action of the visitor on the site" does not apply Nov 13, 2013 at 7:40

This describes Yahoo's ad serving/targeting from their own Privacy Policy in 2008 (from the Internet Archive Wayback machine) at: http://web.archive.org/web/20081219224808/http://info.yahoo.com/privacy/us/yahoo/adserving/

From the Privacy Policy: " Yahoo! tries to show you ads that are relevant to you. To do this most effectively, we may use information we know or receive about you like your gender, location or interests. We may also analyze your use of our products and services ..."

It then goes into detail on how it accomplishes this.

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