Intent Targeted Advertising Threatens Viability of Portals
Online advertising fueled the fortunes of Web portals like AOL and Yahoo! for years, and user targeting helped deliver relevant ad impressions at scale based on inferred preferences. These preferences could be cultivated over time through tracking and analytics, providing a sizable advantage over traditional advertising platforms.
However, the shift toward a long tail content environment and an increasing portion of the online community discovering content through social media is forcing advertisers to seek innovative solutions to connect with users beyond the point of awareness and point of interest. Enter intent targeted advertising.
Arguably better than any other company, Demand Media utilizes intent targeted advertising to fully capitalize on its massive library of Q&A-style content on its highly-trafficked properties. Simply put, Demand does not create any piece of content that has not been expressly demanded by users through search queries and other activities online. This metadata is run through Demand’s proprietary content value prediction algorithm and, through a human-intensive evaluation, creation and development process, is hosted on Demand’s properties like eHow, LIVESTRONG.com, GolfLink, Trails.com and more.
Related: [INFOGRAPHIC] Learn how Demand Media utilizes rigorous quality control measures in its proprietary content creation process here.
Users come to Demand Media properties to find everything from “How to Build a Backyard Deck” to “How to Buy Healthy Food.” While searching for titles like these, users are explicitly seeking specific information that drives them to act. By connecting advertisers with users at this so-called point of intent, Demand Media provides highly relevant advertisements to action-ready individuals. For example, when a user visits LIVESTRONG.com and reads “What Are the Best Dietary Supplements,” Demand may serve an ad from FRS, a healthy energy drink endorsed by Lance Armstrong and Tim Tebow. Users reading “How to Maintain a Vegetable Garden” may see a series of integrated Home Depot ads that provide a solution to the specific problem stated by the user and direct the user to a highly relevant solution. So what does this mean for portals like Yahoo! and AOL?
When users arrive at a portal, they view content that the portal’s editorial team has chosen to show them, and advertisements are relevant to the point of interest and awareness. Largely, portals only go one-third of the way, missing the next steps of the funnel – the point of intent and action.
[UPDATE 1/13/11:] AOL announces massive shift toward outsourcing its sports, health and real estate verticals. CEO Tim Armstrong noted that “it’s hard to sell ads if you aren’t a top 2 or 3 property,” a problem that has plagued Web portals since the rise of the long-tail content economy through social media and blogs.
At the end of 2010, The Wall Street Journal reported that online ad spending ($25.8 billion) surpassed print advertising ($22.8 billion) for the first time in history. Yet there is still a multi-billion dollar gap between time spent online and percentage of online ad spend as a percentage of total. With companies like Demand Media creating and publishing explicitly demanded and actionable content at scale, there is likely to be a flow of the growing wealth of ad dollars moving toward Demand and others who can excel at intent targeted advertising.