Banners or Buyers?

I think I shared this in my social media feed when I read it earlier in the year, but it popped back up on my radar and it’s more true than ever. Give it a read — it’s worth your while to spend some time understanding exactly what’s happening here…

My opinion is that they are still missing the point (by a country mile) because the reporter is talking about how the change in targeting will reduce the number of sites across which the advertising is spread, reducing revenue spent on smaller websites in favor of larger (more brand-recognizable) websites and content networks.

The piece of the puzzle they are missing is this: if a small website is delivering a more targeted audience, more qualified leads, and a better response rate, and a better conversion rate than larger sites or networks, there is no logical reason they would be left off a campaign buy — especially if a human being is monitoring, reviewing, and making recommendations based on performance.

As a matter of fact, if a site (no matter its size and traffic) focused on delivering the best visitor experience and content designed to grow a more engaged audience who trusts their recommendation and advertising partners, they would be able to offer advertisers access to a higher quality, more active audience of consumers who are likely to take action and respond to offers of products and services positioned to deliver them value.

And if site owners and content publishers develop those ultra-qualified and responsive audiences, they will be able to be more selective and increasingly choosier about the ads which appear on their site. It won’t mater that they cant deliver the thousands (or millions) of impressions being sought by the bulk-banner-buyers. If they deliver the right offer to this ideal audience the smaller sites will be able to deliver a high number of qualified leads than a site only designed to deliver impressions.

Here’s the tough part

The smaller sites are more likely to arrive at this more influential level if they started out by being incredibly discerning about the ads they allow on their website from day one.

Mandate custom creative designed to appeal to their audience (even if they have to redesign the banner art themselves) rather then allow generic offers and images to appear on the site. These custom ads will deliver 10X the results from a much smaller percentage of impressions.

And once you break out of this buy-it-by-the-pound mentality, you can set your own price and advertisers will pay it because you delivered the goods that the programmatic campaigns can only promise.

Your media company already owns these powerful niche sites

Local television sites, weekly neighborhood newspaper sites, local niche and lifestyle magazine sites, and especially radio station websites all have this kind of high-value audience — but you’ve been tricked into thinking you don’t have enough impressions to “compete with the big boys” so you take pennies per impression and settle for a small share of what you could command if you applied a little more strategy to the way you present the value you’re actually delivering and focused on the qualitative results of your digital campaigns rather than the quantitative delivery of raw, valueless, banner impressions.

I have created and sold strategic campaigns where the advertiser was excited about 250 banner impressions he’d received because it resulted in 10 clicks to a specific page on his website. He was excited because he knew they were the “right” 10 clicks and those 10 people took action which carried the conversation and direct contact further.

As a matter of fact, while I was in the room sharing these early stats, he called their national marketing department to brag about the results he’d received in his first week, because they’d invested in an impressions-based campaign that hadn’t delivered even 10 clicks, but had cost them thousands and thousands of impressions over the course of several weeks.

Some old concepts still hold true

Early in my digital marketing career I created a resource to help explain my philosophy and strategy regarding the use of banners in advertising.

I was the Digital Sales Manager at a radio station (their first!) and it was vital that my team of traditional media salespeople not only understood the wisdom behind selling access to a qualified online audience (just as they understood the qualitative nature of their on-air radio audience) but that their customers and ad-buyers also understood the value of appealing to a smaller, more active, more passionate audience than they were being pitched by the giant mega-eyeball banner impression sellers like a (how they doing these days??)

The resource was and I still maintain that website to this day, because even though it was created almost a decade ago, everything on it is even more true than the day I hit “publish” and it went live. The only info that’s really out of date is the old contact details for the consulting company I last worked with!  Heck, the industry data is probably even more embarrassing in regard to “banner blindness” and banner campaign performance!)

Feel free to point your own customers (and media sales teams!) to the site. It offers a healthy dose of reality among the promise of impressions.

And hey… if you’re interested in having this message delivered to your media sales team, I’d love to come speak in-person at your next sales conference (or even remotely via webinar at your weekly sales meeting). Just click here to contact me.

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