Thursday, April 22, 2010

Let's evolve: What's an audience?

New lingo in the Web advertising world: "audience." But this time, it really matters.

An "audience" is a group of people with a set of common characteristics, which can include demographic, behavioral, or psychographic traits.

For example, "married women, ages 24 - 39, working outside the home, no kids, left-of-center politically, interested in buying an SUV, and environmentally conscious," is an audience.

And why does that matter?

Well, as John Wanamaker, the respected US deparment store executive in the late 1800s and early 1900s said, "Half of my ad budget is wasted; the problem is I don't know which half." By targeting an audience, rather than a publication, you're able to solve Mr. Wanamaker's riddle.

Say you are targeting that group described above, and you're a car dealer in suburban Washington, DC. Why would you pay to advertise in a mass medium, like radio or TV or print?

While many of your target market may be using those media, you're also addressing many, many more people using those media who do not fit your target market at all; what's worse're paying for the privilege of advertising to people you don't want to reach! Plus, say your creative message pokes fun at husbands; what if the majority of people seeing your ads are...husbands? You've just alienated more people than you've reached.

Not smart.

Now, with online advertising, you can certainly target this market segment. The challenge is finding the right venue for doing so. Many old media companies have online advertising options, but the challenge is reach; the old media companies don't have enough people visiting their sites to have an impact on your results.

And assembling enough local sites to create economies of scale efficiencies in reaching that target market just magnifies the inefficiencies of working with dozens or hundreds of media sellers.

So online advertising offers you the ability to reach the target market specifically, but what a pain in the neck it is to assemble the sites to do so.

Until now.

Right now, probably one of the most profound strategic advertising opportunities in online advertising is taking shape: audience networks.

These audience networks allow advertisers to define a wide range of target market characteristics, create ads to appeal to the target market, and then deliver those ads to the target market, minimizing Mr. Wanamaker's waste.

In addition to the crucial benefit of your paying to advertise to only the target market you want to reach, the audience networks allow you to manage your campaign in a single control point, without having to manage and negotiate with dozens or hundreds of media companies. Imagine the savings for local, regional, and national advertisers. How much time and money would you save?
Think about what it is you're really doing with your online ad budget. Are you targeting specific media, or would you rather target actual people?

We've put together an audience network service at Intermarkets. Check out the Aurora Audience Network. We've assembled reach to 200 million unique US Web users and more than 500 million unique global Web users, all in one place.