Do You Deserve My Client’s Ads?

When online media planners and buyers seek sites with which to partner, one question is always at the back of their minds: Is this site really good enough for my client’s ads?

If you don’t contemplate this question on a regular basis, it’s high time you started. Regardless of the type of campaign you’re planning, whether it’s to test various properties before committing to a select few or to develop a long-term strategic partnership with one site, media buyers should always be cognizant of the quality of the sites on which they advertise. This doesn’t just apply to looks (clearly professional design versus basement-quality appearance), but also how the site functions, what its publishing team does to maintain its marketplace status, and how it creates lasting appeal among consumers.

What should you look for when choosing a site? It’s key to get an overall sense of the publisher’s level of commitment, to both audience and advertisers. Here are a few questions you should be ask before making your next buy.

What’s Your Site Doing to Expand Its Users Base?

Media buyers rarely raise this question with online media, but it crops up repeatedly offline, where, ironically, fewer publishers and media vendors compete for audience share. Before you commit to a site placement, ask publishers on your shortlist what they’re doing to increase the traffic volume to their properties, as well as what measures they are taking to expand the user base. Are they promoting properties on offline media vehicles, such as TV or print, to expand reach and find new potential users? Are they forging partnerships with complementary properties to help increase their member database in the long term?

If a site does all the above, your client gets the added value of having its products exposed to a growing number of users. This is more effective than delivering ads to a fixed, stagnant member base that’s bound to tire of the property over time. Eventually, they will no longer represent potential customers.

What’s Your Site Doing to Sustain Its User Base?

A site can focus on growing its base all it wants. Unless it has a system in place to sustain it and hold on to loyal users, the members aren’t nearly as likely to stick around. Examine each publisher’s methods for arresting user erosion and how it prevents deterioration of its database.

Look to a site such as The Knot for guidance on processes to watch for. The wedding-planning site has an effective system for sustaining relationships with members via email. When a registered member changes her email address, thus breaking the communication chain, “A Note from The Knot” is delivered on her subsequent visits to the site. The cookied note, in pop-up form, informs the user the site has been unable to reach her via email. It provides a link to her online profile and invites her to update her email address.

Not only does this system help sustain the site’s existing member database, it reflects the publisher’s concern for both members and advertisers. In corresponding with members via personalized messages, The Knot shows its audience — which relies on the mailings for useful wedding advice — it’s dedicated to refining the customer experience. By working to maintain quality and size of its database, it also displays its devotion to advertisers, which rely on the database as a means of corresponding with consumers.

What’s Your Site Doing to Improve Itself?

We’ve established a respectable online audience share is important. Web properties can also achieve this by making improvements to content and service offerings based on audience feedback. Check to see if the sites you’re considering survey or poll their user bases. Are they implementing any of the ideas gleaned from the data? This indicates genuine concern for how their sites are perceived by users. It’s certain to increase traffic and loyalty over time.

A site that continuously works to address all these issues is a site worthy of your client’s ads.

Join us at the Jupiter ClickZ Advertising Forum in New York City on July 30 and 31.

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