eMarketer: Bigger Sites May Not Be Better for Online Advertisers

Advertising on smaller niche sites could make a big difference.

JANUARY 16, 2007 – In the glory days of television, when mass media reigned, media planners could buy time on CBS, NBC and ABC and waltz out for a three-martini lunch. Easy as that.

Times have changed, of course. Today, planning multimedia advertising campaigns is far more complex. But media planners would still prefer to keep things as simple as possible. When it comes to the online portion of their budgets, they buy Google, Yahoo! and a few major vertical-interest sites and, often enough, that is about it.

Merrill Lynch projects that both search and branded advertising will grow online next year, up 27% and 21%, respectively.

But continuing to put the bulk of online ad dollars on large sites could be a mistake. Big, particularly on the Internet, may not be better.

According to new research from Media-Screen, when brand managers and media planners are choosing where to place their ads online, they should not ignore smaller sites with less traffic.

The “Netpop | Response” study found that small, long-tail Web sites are indispensable to consumers – and they provide a new way for brands to position ads where users want to see them.

Interest in the products and brands advertised on smaller sites is greater than on larger sites: According to the study, 42% of sites with less than one million unique visitors a month advertise products of interest to their viewers, vs. 39% of sites with more than one million visitors.

The difference is small, but for savvy advertisers looking for an edge, it is worth exploring.

“Consumers have gained control over the content they consume online and advertisers need to adjust their strategies to match,” said Josh Crandall of Media-Screen. “By advertising on smaller Websites, those that consumers are visiting based on their personal interests, companies can reach a highly engaged consumer with a message that relates to a subject that is important to them.”

Advertisers should consider putting at least some of their online budgets aside for experimenting with niche site placements.

“Search engines are a driving force behind these trends, enabling broadbanders to venture beyond the major brands to the niche sites they previously never knew existed,” said Cate Riegner of Media-Screen. “62% of sites that respondents mention receive less than one million unique visitors.”

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By gathering the latest research and news from over 1,000 sources, eMarketer has established itself as the world’s leading provider of internet and e-business statistics. eMarketer’s Web site is at www.emarketer.com.