I’ve talked about the targeting capabilities of advertising within a web site. But there’s another way to reach a great number of people within your desired target audience — by using the broad reach of advertising networks.
More Or Less
You can find some really great web sites on which to advertise, and some will deliver a highly targeted audience. These sites can give you a target audience with specific demographics and/or psychographics, along with some enviable response rates.
However, if you want to reach many more prospects in order to generate new customers, you need a lot more sites that serve your demographic target — this is what an ad network can provide.
For example, on a web site that has 100,000 unique visitors per month, your selected target audience may yield 15 percent of the audience, or 15,000. Using the same example, advertising across an ad network that reaches 10 million with a target of 15 percent yields 1.5 million.
Ready, Aim, Fire
An ad network is a company that represents a collection of web sites where you can advertise across many sites at once. Currently, you target your ads based largely on web site content such as financial, home furnishings, career, news, sports, etc. Many ad networks also give you the ability to target based on demographics such as geography, SIC codes, ISP, browser type, web domain, etc. 24/7 Media, Adsmart, DoubleClick and Flycast are just a few of the many advertising networks available.
To give you an idea of cost, ad network CPMs (cost per thousand) are similar to web site CPMs. Ad network CPMs range from a few dollars for run-of-site to higher CPMs for targeting. As you target categories and demographics, the CPM price increases to $20-$50+ on average, and more than $100 for the most refined targeting. Each ad network has its own unique capabilities, features and pricing, so you will want to do some research to compare them against your objective and with each other.
Know Your Objective
Ad networks can help online marketers with many marketing objectives — including reach and targeting. As with any campaign, determine your objective first, then determine which method — such as using an ad network — will be the best route.
Adsmart’s client, Ford Ranger, recently did a targeted campaign from December 1998 to February 1999 within the network. Specifically, Ford Ranger used the Action Sports Network to reach a specific demographic target containing prospects that have lifestyles and habits similar to the typical Ford Ranger driver. The goal was to generate leads for Ford Western Region dealerships. The campaign contained 2,762,000 Ford-sponsored page views and resulted in 511 dealer leads. The online marketing cost was $120 each, favorable when compared to the customer acquisition industry average of $1,000 per customer.
BellSouth IntelliVentures is a unit of BellSouth, a large telecommunications company. This group is responsible for the Real Yellow Pages Online and is leading many online advertising efforts for BellSouth. Melissa Honabach, senior manager of advertising and promotions at BellSouth, uses a few advertising networks to drive traffic to the Real Yellow Pages web site.
“We chose to use ad networks to reach a greater number of people in a cost-effective fashion,” she said. “We have to bring value to all our advertisers, so our challenge is to increase new visits and repeat visits. By using ad networks, we are able to do geographical targeting across many web sites. Because our business is limited to nine states within our territory, we use Flycast to target by zip code.”
The campaign is currently running at 15 million impressions per month on the Flycast network. On average, the Real Yellow Pages network advertising achieves a 1.2 to 1.4 percent click-through. Honabach is very pleased with geographic targeting because it minimizes wasted ad serving by limiting the run to geographic areas where the company does business.
“The key to using an ad network is to find one that has great customer service. You need a good organization that is looking out for you. I want an ad network to proactively ensure my advertising is successful and tell me what is working and not working in a timely manner. Also, reporting is crucial, and it should contain up-to-the minute results,” said Honabach.
One important thing to remember is that ad networks currently have limits in their ability to target versus web sites that have user profiles created from site registration. However, according to Lyn Chitow Oakes, vice president of marketing at Flycast, “You shouldn’t create you media plan on the preconceived notion of targeting. We suggest our clients start with run-of-site advertising and see what results, then move to targeting based on actual real-time campaign results. This technique is what we call Zero-Based Media Planning. From our case studies, we have found that 50 percent of the time targeting enhanced results. It all depends on your objectives.”
Don’t Forget Frequency
Reach is good, but we can’t neglect frequency. All online advertising budgets should accommodate frequency. People need to view advertising more than once in order to remember or respond. According to Geoffrey Ramsey, statsmaster at eMarketer, “One element that should not be overlooked is frequency. You need to reach the same person many times over with the same message before you’ve had an impact. I’d rather reach 100 people six times over with a message than 600 people just once.”
The beauty of online advertising is that the system can track and measure the impact of frequency. Its tracking capabilities can give you insight into the number of times an ad should be served before reaching the point of diminishing returns. Honabach of BellSouth sets banner ad frequency at about three times because she finds that users are less likely to click on an ad after seeing it an average of three times. Some systems and services can do this evaluation in real-time, allowing you to change ads quickly.
The BellSouth group will be one of the first advertisers to use the Comet Cursor for an online ad campaign. They will be using it for ads within the Flycast network. The cursor will change (assuming the user downloads the software) to a person walking on the yellow pages at the moment the BellSouth banner ad appears on a web page.
Next Week: Another look at privacy.