People can argue about the pros and cons of web banner advertising. At Austin & Williams, we look at banner ads primarily as a branding tool, and any clicks through to the web site are gravy. But banner advertising is only effective, as a branding tool or a direct response tool, if we are reaching the right audience at the right time.
This is where online ad networks come in. They enable us to run millions of impressions across multiple sites through one buy, and target our audience either through geography, demographics or recent online behavior. This one-stop shopping is effective and efficient for our clients.
Previously considered a tool for direct response marketing, ad networks are taking off in the area of brand advertising. In its article “Ad Networks For Brand Advertisers,” Forrester Research breaks ad networks into three categories:
- Brand-oriented general networks. These are networks which offer a variety of targeting options (demographic, geographic, day-part), along with behavioral targeting. They often can provide increased impressions at a lower rate than those offered by purchasing the space directly.
- Vertical ad networks. These networks target a specific interest category, and are often owned by a large company or publisher that offers positioning across all of its sites. There is often a similar cost savings by purchasing “in bulk” while maintaining the service of the direct salesperson.
- Behavioral targeting networks. Networks in this category utilize the research of behavioral targeting specialists to break down users based on their specific behaviors: car shopping, vacation planning, etc.
As noted by Forrester, the main drawback to ad networks is that unlike direct response marketing, it is sometimes difficult to measure immediate results. It is important that the network type and target are clearly defined, and for us at Austin & Williams, we work with the top ad network companies to ensure transparency in each buy.
For clients who are looking for an online presence on vertical and branded sites, ad network buys are efficient and targeted within a mass medium.