By Mark Hanzlik, Executive Director
The assertion in this eMarketer article is that “Placements on smaller, niche sites increase response” and therefore long-tail (niche) web sites are a must for digital ad buyers to include in their media plans. I found it difficult to disprove the premise mostly because there really isn’t much of an argument against it. Check it out, I did.
For most digital buyers, there’s no getting around advertising on top web sites and that’s often the first move for media buyers looking to maximize their time and efforts. Taking the top-down approach is standard procedure and where a lot of web advertising strategies are grounded. Most ad buyers will agree, it takes a lot more time and effort to root out smaller niche sites that in the end probably won’t deliver much more than a fraction of the audiences delivered by larger branded sites.
But there’s a number of points in favor of the theory of using long-tail sites posited in this article. The fact that —according to comScore, most web viewers spent their time on long-tail sites, is a huge point. Nearly all digital ad dollars are spent on the short tail sites, where ad buyers are seeking the greatest cost efficiencies. The first reaction by ad buyers to long-tail sites higher ad pricing (CPM) is akin to “sticker-shock” and often automatic exclusion from a media plan. These sites; however, often because of the higher clickthrough results can turn into a more efficient ad buy despite the CPM.
By comparing clickthrough rate results via a research source CONTEXTWEB, certain content categories are shown to be higher performers and can add greatly to a major campaign like: Education, Technology and computing, hobbies and games. Even categories that don’t perform as well may result in a lift in ad delivery efficiency according to eMarketer. It’s certainly a winning proposition for ad buyers. (here’s one of the eMarketer charts)
What is not addressed in this piece is the local v. national clickthrough rate comparison and the relative importance of long-tail sites that tap into the local visitors’ interests, and content relative to individuals’ communities whether they are personal or business-related.
The same comparison really can’t be made by examining traditional print or broadcast media too. It’s hard to imagine ad performance based on this same premise of smaller, more precise niche media delivering more efficient sales results than more dominant lower-CPM media but an argument could be made in favor of that supposition, and I hear these kinds of sales pitches from niche media quite often.
If you thought the lines were blurred between national and local advertising in traditional media outlets, take a look at what the internet has done to that dissimilarity. Good luck sorting that one out ad buyers.