What is the goal of advertising? Branding, Sales, Education? The list is literally endless. It can however be simplified by one word that unifies everything. Action! All advertising has the goal of getting the viewer / listener / reader to take action. That action can of course be many different things, from signing up for a newsletter, giving to a charity, or even making a purchase…..
Once we establish the goal of all advertising has the same, then it makes things much easier when we start to look at where best to place our advertising to generate our desired “ACTION”.
The placement options available to the budding marketeer are of course endless. So its no surprise that budgets are often wasted. Hotel room keys anyone? (seriously I often wonder who has an ad budget so large they feel the need to test hotel key card demographics).
I’m all for testing new placements and new ideas as they develop, but the game hasn’t really changed in the last hundred years or so. Advertise where there is most “INTENT” to take our desired action. Got a airport car rental company? Guess what, advertising on airline booking sites on pages that cover youre airports might be a good idea. Wedding photographer? Advertising on a local wedding planning site might work? Seems obvious doesnt it, yet so many companies ignore the obvious and instead chase the newest invovations. I mean seriously I love Peets coffee, but do i want to sign up to be their twitter follower??? No!!! But hey everyone needs a twitter account, right? This isnt the time or place to get into social media and the misinterpretation of what is meant by marketing in that sphere. Hint: its not sponsored tweets.
So where do we find intent? The simple answer is niche. Niche is where intent thrives. Its important to remember, when people thing niche, they generally think way too big. They confuse niche for market. There is a difference. A niche is a subset of a market. You need to think really small…..
Can you see where conflict might exist in a world which is dominated by comments like. Audience size is everything. Bigger is better. Who has the most market share wins. And other such fairy tales. The smart marketeer doesnt fall for this sort of media hype. The smart marketeer undestands that all visitors are not alike. The key difference is? Yes you guessed it, Intent…….
Intent is the playing field leveller that noone wants to talk about. Its far to easy to quote visitor numbers and membership statistics, why get into all that complicated stuff which is actually useful to the marketeer.
Using the airline booking site as an example of niche. What is the intent of their typical visitor? I’m going to take a huge leap of faith and assume its the purchase of an airline ticket. Even if some visitors are searching on behalf of a relative or friend, they still represent that intent through a proxy. Its safe to assume a large percentage of visitors go on to purchase a ticket via that site (assuming the site in question represents a large enough cross section of the available marketplace).
Now lets take another typical marketeer who’s focused on audience size and market share (see notes relating to airline booking site in the footer). They decide to focus on market and not niche. Choosing instead to advertise on travel sites. People that travel after-all often rent cars dont they? In this rather obvious example for illustration purposes only, the intent of the travel site visitor is vastly different than one visiting an airline site. The list of intent is pretty much endless, places to stay, where to eat, things to do, entertain the kids, etc etc. So lets be generous and say that 10% of people visiting a travel site have the intent of buying an airline ticket. Ignoring airport targeting for a moment, that means we need 10 visitors for every 1 booking site visitor to register the same level of intent.
In most industries the ratio of intent is vastly reduced the further you move away from the niche. Sure techcrunch and mashable are incredibly useful sites for those keeping up with the latest technology developments. There audience figures are in the millions and have legions of loyal fans. The audience figures shrink dramatically however, once you apply an intent ratio to your product or service. Generally you would be lucky to get into a single digit percentage.
You can generally increase the intent ratio the higher you delve into a niche. If your looking to rent luxury sedans, then business ticketing sites are obviously going to represent a higher degree of intent than a budget traveler site.
So before you reach for your wallet, when the next headline from the latest hot funded internet property spouts rapidly increasing audience size. Ask yourself what what’s the appropriate intent ratio to apply.
Note: OK so airline booking sites are a big easy example to use. Many of these sites represent the largest on the internet. So they actually fulfil audience and niche criteria. Thats unusual, and only generally exists in a few search verticals. The others being retail, financial services and media / entertainment.