Here is some very apt criticism of the notion of a “target audience”, particularly in relation to online media. The passive connotations of the idea of “audiences” as receivers are criticised, as is the notion of a reader as “target”. An alternative phrase, “communities of interest”, is suggested. Again this is from Amy Gahran.
Still, I’m not sure that the idea of a “community” is better in all respects – the warm and fuzzy connotations of “community” just don’t seem suitable for all aspects of online media. For example, the most profitable notion of online marketing is based on an ever more precise targeting of individuals and their potential utterances.
In the forest of online words, you buy your ammunition – search keywords – and Google lies in wait for your prey, ambushing them with your message as soon as they move into sight.