Advertiser Segmentation

Last week, we talked about the need for ad supported sites to design their offerings so they can build targeted inventory right from the start — by creating a valuable and sellable product for advertisers.

Our advice assumed, of course, that the site’s management has thought through which types of advertisers are likely to be interested in its audience. Today’s column looks at advertiser segmentation as a way for sites to organize their thinking about who they want to reach and which advertisers are likely to be the best targets for their sales efforts.

Key To Effective Segmentation: Understand How Advertisers Think About Their Markets

One of the most common problems we encounter with ad supported sites is a confusion between user segmentation and advertiser segmentation. For example, it would not be uncommon for a gourmet cooking site to say that it focuses on reaching women with a serious interest in cooking. While this may be totally accurate in terms of its content and traffic building strategies, it says little about the advertiser’s focus.

Developing your advertiser segmentation begins with understanding how advertisers think about their markets.

The first and most obvious segment of advertisers is the one that is looking for media buys with a strong contextual fit to its product.

If you are Caphalon or Viking, it’s going to be pretty obvious why this site is a good fit for your market. In fact, the only problem with this segment of advertisers is that it’s usually not large enough to build and grow a thriving ad-supported site on its own. Therefore, sites must look beyond the obvious to uncover other segments of advertisers with needs they can meet.

Another approach is to identify advertisers who are be looking for sites that demonstrate a fit with the psychographic profile of its customers.

If our cooking site wanted to reach advertisers whose buyers are status conscious, for example, it might develop a pitch that emphasizes the premium brands available through the sites’ e-commerce partnerships. If there is a group of advertisers whose customers think of themselves as risk-takers and lovers of the exotic, the site might develop a separate pitch around its users of the Red Hot Cooking Channel featuring unusual recipes from around the world.

Strong demographic fit is also important to advertisers. All marketers track their customers demographically, but certain advertisers think of their market primarily in terms of age, gender, occupation, income level or other demographic variables. Our cooking site might be a good fit for advertisers such as clothing manufacturers, or houseware companies that want to reach upscale women between the ages of 35 and 45.

In this example, the site has many different ways to think about advertiser segmentation. Each segment requires a different pitch to advertisers, but even more significantly, each segment also implies different strategies for audience building and product development.

If status conscious advertisers seemed like a big play, the site might want beef up its content around high end kitchen products. If the demographic focus covers a lot of key advertisers, the site might want to put together traffic deals that further develop the quality of the target audience.

The key is to understand what is driving the advertiser’s decision making process and then to develop your site’s strategies with these considerations in mind.

Next week, we’ll give you a quick way to test your advertiser segmentation effectiveness.

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