According to Nielsen//NetRatings [“The extra slash is for slashing prices!”] Raleigh, NC’s active at home online population grew 29% from January 2002 to January 2003, and Nashville and Sacramento grew by 19%. That seems…implausible.

N//NR continues:

The fastest growing local market experienced some big shifts in income levels over the past year. In Raleigh, the number of people with at home Internet access reporting a household income of $75,000 to $99,999 a year increased by 72 percent (see Table 2) from January 2002 to January 2003. Other high-income groups online grew as well with the $100,000 to $149,999 income bracket growing eight percent and the wealthiest bracket of $150,000 to $999,999 moving up 17 percent. By contrast the lowest household income bracket for those with at home Internet access saw its active online audience decrease by 26 percent.

“Raleigh has experienced major growth in high income households that have Internet access over the past year,” said Bloom “This will make it a prime regional target for marketers looking to push big ticket items like luxury cars and appliances.”

This recommendation would be wrong even if the data were correct, which I doubt. Wouldn’t it make more sense to target your ads to markets with the greatest concentration of affluent customers and not the fastest growth?