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Targeted Ad Buys Give A Big Boost

_This article is by guest contributor Karel Wegert._
Over the past several years, I have been running a variety of online ad campaigns across industry specific Web sites. Because my company was selling what might loosely be defined as a niche product, specifically automotive accessories, I was immediately drawn to online communities and subject-specific message forums because they could put us in touch with our target market much more easily.
After running banners consistently across a core group of 20 to 30 sites, we were garnering a good average weekly click-through rate. In an attempt to reach an even broader market, however, we began looking at some of the larger sites that are run by industry-specific magazines. Naturally, we encountered a major difference. As is the standard in the industry, the magazine sites were selling ads on a CPM basis. The vast majority of the Web community sites we had purchased media from sold their placements for a flat fee; each creative would be displayed an equal number of times per month, with no limit to the overall number of impressions delivered. So we were eager to see what kind of results the magazines’ CPM-approach would yield.

We compared traffic and demographics across all of the most appealing ad placements and, on paper, the magazine site looked to be a winner. When our ads went live, though, you could hear the crickets chirping across the Net. We got more clicks from just one of our message board ads in one week than we did from our entire CPM buy on the larger sites.
This illustrates a common problem advertisers run into online. The easy way out in terms of media buying is to pick the largest site that relates to your product and attracts your target audience, and go to town with a large campaign. Very few companies take the time to identify the smaller sites that can be equally, if not more, popular among potential customers. Ads placed on these sites can be much more targeted, and as a result generate an amazingly high click-through rate. Most importantly, they can convert more sales than many of the mainstream ads can. It’s a concept that’s fundamental in interactive marketing: “targeting your target market.” Are you reaching yours?
With an entrepreneurial background, Karel Wegert has a broad range of experience in both traditional and interactive marketing. He spent the last 4 years as VP of marketing with an automotive accessory company, where he developed strategies to move the company’s product line from traditional distribution channels to an exclusively online operation. Karel’s experience extends from media planning and buying, CRM campaigns, and corporate re-branding, to Web, logo, and ad design. He can be reached at .


  1. Jimmy Yin
    Jimmy Yin February 27, 2006

    I agree that “Targeting the target market” is a great way of driving the right people to your site. However, ad buys for banner and box ads on community sites such as discussion forums are often ignored by users. One way to really catch the attention of the right target market is to do what you were originally doing, but allow your business to geniunely interact with the online community through, for example, sponsoring online contests, activities, or events. You give a little and the community responds with their attention. Just some food for thought.

  2. Alexandre Hénault
    Alexandre Hénault March 2, 2006

    I totally agree with your arguments. I would like to add some extra information based on a real business case I did for one of my client. To target your audience by content; environment or by age group, is certainly one thing, but if you also have the opportunity to adapt the interactivity of your creative to your target is greater. For instance, since we were targeting 12- to 17-year-old, we have put more content into the banner than the site itself to overcome low click through rates. It worked perfectly! We got a good 0,87% click through rate to the site but a, even better 10% interactivity with the banner.

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