In advertising, people aren’t people — they’re targets. Consumers “need” to see an ad, but they just don’t know it yet. Luckily, Yahoo’s new ad system knows:

Yahoo’s new ad system is designed to let marketers target prospective consumers not only by the search terms the people use, but also by their demographics, location and what they do on other areas of the Yahoo network, executives said.

In a post-Google-Adwords marketing world, the conventional wisdom is that context and intention (view search keywords) are everything when it comes to ad targeting. It doesn’t matter who you are, only what you’re looking for.

Yahoo is betting that old-fashioned targeting criteria like demographics and new-fangled criteria like behavior will enhance search and contextual targeting. The more information, the better, right?

If that is right, Yahoo has a clear advantage over Google, which only has account information for a small portion of its user base, e.g. Gmail users. And Yahoo has always had a more robust platform for collecting information from its registered users.

But you have to wonder whether these new spins on the same old ad targeting game are really the future of advertising. This is still an attack-based approach to advertising — you’re being TARGETED. Quick, duck!

Smart brands are looking for ways to draw consumers TO them, rather than go hunting AFTER consumers. The smart hunter would rather be hunted.