Making The Case For Brand Building Through Hyper-Targeting

Competitive companies should not drastically cut back branding efforts in this economy. History has shown that strong brands ramp up marketing efforts and initiatives during tough times in order to take advantage of its competitors' weak state. Of course, don't overspend. You just have to find a way to effectively immerse your most valuable audiences in your brand.

A ZenithOptimedia study revealed that Internet advertising will increase its share of the world ad budget from 8% in 2007 to nearly 14% in 2010. Online advertising will bring more opportunities for creative brand building due to more budget dedicated to it. The challenge, however, is limitations on the creative experience.

Brand builders have to deliver compelling, engaging creative to the most targeted audience. You can't substitute the range of options you get with television commercials for a static banner on the Web -- although the "Get a Mac" banner ads are pushing the boundaries. Furthermore, beyond the space and usability limitations from publishers, marketers have to realize that up to 90% of a media budget may miss the target. How do you know where your audience is when the Internet is continuing to fragment at an alarming pace? The answer is hyper-targeting.



The concept has had its misconceptions. Audiences tuned out when sites like MySpace and Facebook hinted at using information such as interests, hobbies and activities to "hypertarget" an audience that's generating millions of page views. Let's look at this a different way.

Today, there may be one to two millions web sites appropriate for brand advertising. With consumers spending over 65% of their online time on these web sites rather than the top 20 sites, according to comScore, each of these web sites attracts valuable audiences because of their focus on their topic. Whether it's,,, or, these sites attract and speak to very specific audiences -- naturally and deeply targeted audiences. This is the hyper-targeted audience. Contextual targeting where the context was determined by subject matter experts -- people, editors, etc.

The audiences that are attracted to contextual hyper-targeted sites reported to comScore that they find the information as trustworthy as on larger sites and that they pay attention to this advertising as much or more than on larger sites.

The challenge is to find the right contextual hyper-targeted sites for brand campaigns. Vertical ad networks offer the best solution for that problem as these networks are pulled together by trusted editors who are part of large publishers and entrepreneurs, whose very survival depends on their reputation with brand advertisers. Marketers trust these subject matter experts who evaluate and invite the most on-target, brand-safe publishers to join their networks in order to deliver on-target reach to brand campaigns.

Technology plays a part in contextual hyper-targeting, but it is an insufficient solution for assessing the quality and tone of a site's content and the placement of the advertising spaces. Furthermore, breakthrough creative cannot be delivered by targeting technologies reaching the consumer on remnant inventory. Instead, marketers must combine optimization technology with knowledgeable experts and access to premium placements so that the most compelling creative can be served to engage the right audience.

Once the hyper-targeted sites are identified, marketers face the dilemma of how to deliver compelling creative for an immersive brand experience. The most effective creative on these sites delivers entertainment and information value to the site publisher and their audience. As a brand, you want to touch your audience multiple times and in varied ways so that your value can be experienced:

• Overlay video offers 15 seconds of video content with user-audio initiated that covers a small portion of the page. Featuring celebrities, products or animations, this is similar branding to network and cable television promoting a new show in the bottom of the screen while another program plays. When done well, it is noticed and appreciated.

• Communicating banners offer another visual way to enhance a site and entertain a visitor. Communicating banners have two or three banners on a page that interact with each other -- creating an entertaining surround for the content on the page. More than a roadblock or companion ad (which are other good ideas), communicating banners extend an interaction to the consumer.

• Content syndication is a compelling new alternative for brand marketers that have a database of content or a meaningful way to extend their customers' contributed stories. Publishers embrace quality content that will be valued by their audience -- video, RSS, HTML or any format that works for both parties. Scalable delivery technology through vertical ad networks ensures that the content will be available only to brand-safe sites with the right hyper-targeted audience.

General Motors, Proctor & Gamble and Liberty Mutual Insurance are examples of strong brand advertisers who have created compelling and immersive brand experiences online -- leveraging their most compelling creative and reaching their on-target audience efficiently.

Brand marketers are recognizing the impact of delivering their most compelling creative to hyper-targeted audiences. The results are increased brand awareness, brand affinity and purchase intent. Vertical ad networks make it seamless and scalable to source hyper-targeted inventory, deliver compelling creative, and measure the impact.

4 comments about "Making The Case For Brand Building Through Hyper-Targeting".
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  1. Rolv Heggenhougen, November 25, 2008 at 11:11 a.m.

    Companies seem to ignore the single largest online branding/advertising venue available: their own regular external emails. Why not use these emails to market the senders company?

    You have a website.
    You send emails.

    Why not multiply your sales-staff by “wrapping” the regular email in an interactive letterhead?

    No other marketing or advertising medium is as targeted as an email between people that know each other (as opposed to mass emails). These emails are always read and typically kept.

  2. Kevin Dwinnell from Brand Thunder, November 25, 2008 at 1:31 p.m.

    Why not go after the hyper-target of the self selected? In a rough economic environment, shouldn't brands double down on their loyal audience -- the consumer who already has an affinity relationship with the brand.

    Think of the attraction between sports teams, beverage companies, footwear & apparel, entertainment and the end-user. Even unlikely brands are only one step away - diapers to parenting, dog food to pet care. If there's an emotional connection, there's strong likeliness of the consumer inviting the brand into their lives if that brand offers value.

    Many brands already produce valuable content for their consumers. The struggle is to engage them in it and get them back to the offering site. The tools - widgets, web apps, toolbars and branded browsers (yes, Brand Thunder's product) exist which can leverage existing content as do the distribution channels to deliver it to that brand's fan base.

    Creating a persistent connection with a current customer and then engaging that user does wonders to ensure the longevity of that brand/consumer relationship.

  3. Kevin Horne from Lairig Marketing, November 29, 2008 at 4:16 p.m.

    "History has shown that strong brands ramp up marketing efforts and initiatives during tough times in order to take advantage of its competitors' weak state."

    Opinion or fact? If the latter, please direct us to what should be many, many citations.

    Thank you.

  4. Anthony Loredo from Centro, December 8, 2008 at 1:15 p.m.

    There are some interesting studies cited in this article about historical ad spending.

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