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How Niche Media Planning Might Be Better for Your Advertiser

  |  May 4, 2010   |  Comments

Reaching a niche audience may be more effective than a broad-based one. Consider these two examples.

As an online media planner, have you ever faced this scenario: your outcome-driven advertising client requests a media plan containing top comScore sites, but you know that those sites won't actually meet their goals or timeframe as effectively as lesser-known sites? How can you persuade clients to accept these different sites and your strategy? The solution lies in helping the client to understand the limitations of their request or the added benefits of the niche sites you plan on showcasing in your plan.

Justifying Your Niche Media Plan

It can certainly be said that the same site can achieve different media results just through factors such as how the buy is negotiated, where the placements lie, the timing of the placements and allocation of impressions, and of course, the ad creative itself. That being said, a media plan serving brand awareness will look quite different than one with a goal of generating purchase intent or even actual transactions.

Is your client focused on its Brand Development Index numbers versus its Category Development Index as a reason to do its advertising? (Here is a helpful comparison chart.) Are they seeking some kind of repeat visitor or purchasing behavior, better long-term loyalty, or average lifetime value from a visitor? If you want a more concentrated form of audience targeting and increased reach, then consider niche sites rather than broad ones. Talk to your advertiser about the below reasons for skewing the media plan more towards smaller or niche-oriented sites:

  • Site data: Sure, you can look at a publisher's monthly unique visitors, reach and frequency, and demographics, but other pieces of information should also be considered, like the number and types of sites linking into the considered publisher; its content, unique ad placements, and distribution opportunities; its common CPE (cost-per-engagement); and case studies of comparable advertisers or target audiences.

    • Reach/frequency/cost: For its cost, a top site may offer more frequency but less reach. If the goal is effective reach, you might want to rule out a bigger site. With a limited budget, you might even be forced to rule out bigger sites whereas buying multiple niche sites could allow you to maximize spend, increase impressions to relevant eyeballs, and elevate both reach and frequency.

    • Duplication: Your need for frequency may also be met through duplication, whereby you're increasing the chance of hitting a portion of your visitors on more than one site. If the overlap rate goes too high (e.g., above 50 percent) you may want to consolidate some sites and do a bigger single buy.
  • Measurement technologies: Sometimes big sites or networks can offer niche targeting, which they justify through proprietary measurements like psychographic or segmented data, predictive algorithms and modeling, or semantic advertising.

  • Ad delivery platform: Certain forms of ad delivery that might be cost prohibitive on a large site might be more affordable on a niche site. A few examples include roadblock ads, solo HTML e-mail deliveries, and video sponsorships.

  • Social = niche: Many of today's largest social networking sites like Facebook and LinkedIn offer highly-targeted ways of reaching a niche audience. The universe of impressions might be small, but the reach is very refined.

  • Niche sites work harder for your business: Despite often having an edge over the bigger publishers when it comes to targeted content and unique audience attraction, niche sites still tend to work harder to get your advertising business...mainly because they are off the radar of a lot of media and measurement tools. From them, the planners and buyers get better service and response times, better rates, more campaign flexibility, and shared research. From their site's niche focus, the advertiser gets lifts in unique visitors, better or more control over content opportunities and cross media platform offers, and hopefully better campaign achievement (or equal at perhaps less cost or in less time).

  • Performance: Because of all of the above factors, niche sites can deliver better qualified visitors and perhaps even more of them despite the fact that the larger site has a larger audience. In this kind of situation, even with an assumption of the same conversion rate, your niche plan is going to out-perform your big-site plan.

Working Through the Scenarios

To demonstrate how a niche-focused media plan can help, let's compare two theoretical online media plans, one containing a single "big site" and one without.

Campaign data:

Goal: rebate downloads
Budget: $50,000
Flight: 1 Month
Geo: U.S. only
Target: women, 35-54
Creative: banners/e-mail
Average download (conversion) rate: 4.56 percent

Plan A: Contains one comScore top 100 site and two niche sites; anticipated CTR = 0.15 percent

Site Big Site No. 1
Min Monthly Buy-In $25,000
CPM $100
Impressions 250,000
Site Niche Site No. 1
Min Monthly Buy-In $10,000
CPM $15
Impressions 666,667
Site Niche Site No. 2
Min Monthly Buy-In $15,000
CPM $14
Impressions 1,071,429
Spend $50,000
Effective CPM $25.15
Impressions 1,988,096
Est downloads 136

Plan B: Contains three niche sites and no comScore Top 100 sites; anticipated CTR = 3.12 percent

Site Big Site No. 1
Min Monthly Buy-In $25,000
CPM $100
Impressions 250,000
Site Niche Site No. 1
Min Monthly Buy-In 15,000
CPM $15
Impressions 15,000
Site Niche Site No. 2
Min Monthly Buy-In $15,000
CPM $14
Impressions 1,071,429
Site Niche Site No. 3
Min Monthly Buy-In 10,000
CPM $25
Impressions 400,000
Site Niche Site No. 4
Min Monthly Buy-In $10,000
CPM $18
Impressions 555,556
Spend $50,000
Effective CPM $16.52
Impressions 3,026,985
Est downloads 4,307

As you can see, the difference in outcome can be theoretically huge. This may be all the convincing your advertiser needs to see, too.

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Hollis Thomases

A ClickZ expert columnist since 2005, Hollis Thomases (@hollisthomases) is president and founder of Maryland-based WebAdvantage.net, an online marketing company that provides results-centric, strategic Internet marketing services, including online media planning, SEO, PPC campaign management, social media marketing, and Internet consulting. Author of Twitter Marketing: An Hour a Day and an award-winning entrepreneur, Hollis is the Maryland 2007 SBA Small Business Person of the Year. Hollis speaks extensively on online marketing, having presented for ClickZ, the American Marketing Association, SES, The Newsletter and Electronic Publishers Association, The Kelsey Group, and the Vocus Worldwide User Forum. WebAdvantage.net's client list has included Nokia USA, Nature Made Vitamins, Johns Hopkins University, ENDO Pharmaceuticals, K'NEX Construction Toys, and Visit Baltimore. The agency was recognized as a "Small Giant" by the Greater Baltimore Tech Council and was chosen as a "Best Place for Business Women to Work" by "Smart Woman Magazine."

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