Just as traditional ad buys began to erode in the early part of last year, interactive advertising has been hit particularly hard in the last quarter of 2008. It’s no longer enough to offer traditional banner ads on your website news pages. To survive in today’s turbulent waters it’s important to build out additional advertising opportunities. How do you do this? By creating channels specifically targeted to consumer interests.
Currently, the big three verticals are: automotive, travel, and real estate. By building out these main hubs and creating channels that highlight content specific to the big three, savvy media companies are finding additional pockets of advertising dollars. A channel can be anything from an area where consumers can build out their dream car and find a local dealer online to an RMLS listing search area that shows the homes for sale in your geographic region. Companies currently creating customized channels for the big three verticals above are finding they can package these with traditional advertising packages and sell them as “targeted buys” to advertisers. It makes sense that a real estate company would be more likely to buy ad space on a designated homebuyer page than a “run of site” contract.
To explain how this works, let’s take a closer look at the automotive vertical. Automotive dealers have traditionally spent the bulk of their advertising budgets on local TV commercials, newspaper classified ads and radio spots. With the majority of consumers now heading online to research and shop for vehicles first, many dealers have shifted some of their spending to national online vehicle search portals.
Now imagine taking the same concept as a national online vehicle search portal and creating a section on your media site, but tailoring it to your local dealerships and their customers. It’s a win-win. The dealership gets a less expensive and more targeted way to access local customers, while you create an additional advertising stream.
The caveat is that in order to entice advertisers to try your new channel, you need to offer consumers and advertisers the big-time tools found on national sites. Many local media sites are now investing in robust vehicle shopping and researching tools that facilitate the car buying process for consumers, and then push them to a local dealer for purchase.
These tools may include fun surveys to help buyers find exactly the car for them, informative articles decoding automotive jargon like MSRP, and even tools that mimic social networking sites so potential buyers can create shopping pages, upload the vehicles they are considering, and invite friends and family to chime in with their opinions. Media sites have a trusted voice in the community and built-in local readers, so by investing in new tools and features you can offer increased services to your readers, boost online traffic, and become more attractive to local dealer advertisers.
One exciting outcome is once you’ve created a new channel, advertising dollars often flow in from outside the primary industry. For example, local credit unions and insurance agencies would love to have exposure to local auto consumers, but how? When an auto consumer clicks ‘Financing’ on your site, you have the power to put the credit union down the street, or the small one-man insurance agency, in the face of a local consumer. This is ‘path inclusion,’ putting complimentary industries in the buying path of the consumer, and it can pay off big in terms of advertising dollars.
Most local media sites are right on the cusp of bigger profits. By building out new online verticals like automotive, real estate, and travel, you can realize a bevy of benefits: more traffic from already loyal viewers, the retention and growth of current advertisers, and new interactive advertising dollars from currently untapped markets.
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