Media Planners Re-Evaluating Priorities in 2009 Must Keep Ad Networks Top of Mind
By Perry Nusbaum, Vice President, Eastern U.S. Sales, Specific Media
In today's uncertain economy, media planners are faced with realigning priorities and redistributing spending to ensure online marketing budgets – while scaled back – are delivering value like never before. With every move seemingly scrutinized under the microscopic lens of clients, media buyers can take solace in the fact that online ad networks, at least the best ones, can deliver a clear, measurable impact in the most efficient way possible.
While it may seem more logical at first blush to spend ad dollars directly with niche or vertical sites that cater to a brand's specific demographic requirement, it's not easy to ignore the reach top ad networks are able to deliver. Many are making the argument that reach isn't important, but when you combine reach with custom technology that delivers a highly relevant audience that has been proven in-market to make a purchase, the game changes. It becomes both a targeting and a numbers game that shifts the odds in the advertiser's favor, especially when sales are the goal.
Certainly, a small percentage of visitors to a specific niche or vertical site may be in-market to make a purchase at any given time. For example, a man who visits golf.com for instance may be in-market to purchase golf clubs every 10 years. However, there are far better odds in reaching golfers across the Web that have taken clear, identifiable steps that show immediate purchase intent across this broader ground. After all, a golfer buys groceries and healthcare products, too. Chances are, you'll also find that same user on Stubhub.com or Forbes.com – not necessarily the most logical fits for these products. That said, the best ad networks know how to find him no matter where he is at, and media planners can rest easier knowing they are guaranteed a measureable impact that leaves no stone unturned.
Peter Platt, vice president of Online Media at Butler/Till Media, feels that both ad networks and premium sponsorships have a place in the campaign strategy, as each method delivers a different opportunity for the advertiser. For Platt's clients, ad networks represent an important part of the advertising mix, delivering consistency and efficiency, in addition to reach and frequency.
Platt notes that premium sponsorships give advertisers a strong brand presence on a particular site that is endemic to their industry. If the goal of a campaign – for a healthcare product for instance – is simply to create a heightened brand presence on an authoritative industry website, then a premium sponsorship on a site like WebMD would deliver such results. Platt further explains that ad networks more effectively enable advertisers to spread their brand messages across the full internet landscape by identifying user profiles that match specific criteria. More importantly, ad networks drive more immediate sales when that's the priority, which is increasingly the case in this type of economy.
By leveraging anonymous consumer data and innovative targeting technologies, ad networks deliver efficiency, measurability, flexibility, ease of use and most importantly, ROI.
Online ad targeting solutions have evolved to the point that advertisers can use them to reach users who exhibit specific, relevant behaviors across the web's most popular sites. For example, an automotive manufacturer selling fuel efficient vehicles could identify and target New Yorkers who meet a specified household income, enjoy sports and have an interest in environmental issues. Rather than reaching every internet user that visits a car site, advertisers can target users throughout the web that match their ideal customer profile.
The best ad networks also deliver measurable results and extensive reporting capabilities that go beyond simply determining the reach and click-through rates for a campaign. It's good to know that your ad was clicked on, but it's even better to know the profiles of the users interacting with your ad, including valuable anonymous behavioral data that you can use to better inform current and future media planning. Ad networks may also be able to measure campaign success as correlated to increased reach, engagement, brand search and competitive share metrics.
Advertisers have multiple media channels to choose from and every brand has different needs. Networks comprised of quality websites and an extensive database of anonymous user information can offer advertisers the flexibility they need to reach their campaign objectives. Such versatility enables advertisers to focus on increasing network reach, driving response rates reaching target audience segments, etc.
Ease of Use
In a time when many companies find themselves short-staffed, ad networks simplify the media buying process. Rather than directly managing multiple publisher relationships, media planners can have an ad network identify target segments that meet their objectives, and distribute their message to a mass audience, while investing minimal time and effort.
In uncertain times, the biggest benefits an ad network can offer are cost efficiency and ROI. For Platt, ad networks enable brands to reach a wide targeted audience at nearly one-third of the cost of premium branded sites, ensuring maximum value from advertising dollars.
So what's the most important thing to look for in an ad network? According to Platt, it's the network's proven targeting capabilities that deliver measureable results, truly innovative technologies, quality of publisher sites and strong sales relationships. As Platt puts it, these represent important criteria in the best and worst of economic times.