Grasping The Concept Of Online Targeted Advertising

Knowing your audience is crucial in the online world of money making. Traditionally that meant real world marketers focused on demographics such as:

  • What is the age group? Male or Female? Income bracket? How many kids? Home owners or renters? Working or retired? yada yada.

Companies spent a lot of money to find out statistically what group their product appealed to and experienced greater success with. Those numbers can play a part in successful branding online (think: banner imping and text links), but I propose looking at things a little differently for monetizing your web properties:

  • Who’s visiting your blog or website? How are they finding you? Why are they coming back? What are they looking for? What need are you fulfilling?

I’m not saying forget about age, sex, income brackets. But let your primary focus be to drill down and understand what the intent or motivation is of your visitors when they choose to visit your website.

Here’s a theoretical blog with monetization examples from the two different perspectives:

Blog Topic: Stay At Home Moms Resource & Discussion

Demographics: Female, 24 years old – 45 years old, college education, household annual income $75,000+, two children (preschoolers), home owner, credit card debt.

I polled my visitors and studied the above numbers then carefully picked a variety of advertising and affiliate products to display on my blog. An assumption of a few good picks that would fit with those demographics would be:

  • Online cosmetic shopping, designer handbag coupon codes, mortgage offers, credit card deals, online toy catalogs, shoe shopping, candle sales, discount perfume.

Women in that demographic bracket buy those things all the time. They have mortgages. Credit cards. Wear clothes and makeup. Light candles. So it makes sense that they would visit my SAHM blog, see the ads for those things, and happily click thru and buy buy buy. That’s how targeted advertising works online…errr…Right?

Looking at the other perspective:

Visitors Intent: The motivation for women to visit this blog daily is to share ideas, tips, fellowship with other women in their situation. Discussion of raising happy and well adjusted children, learning new ways to run a home productively, and somehow be organized and effective with days that are hectic and full.

If I focused on the intent of my visitors and readers, the monetization methods chosen would be a whole lot different than the first example. I’d realize that women are coming to my blog for a variety of reasons, but mainly they’re visiting because they want to enhance their life (and their family’s) as a SAHM. They want ideas and discussion that pertain to being an effective, fulfilled, SAHM. What can I present to them, what products will provide solutions to their problems, what services will make their lives easier, what items will help them stay on track and be successful in their chosen lifestyle?

The monetization methods might be:

  • Products and services that *WOW* make a difference or provide a way that makes things easier for them at home (I’m not talking about a Kitchen Aid people), a fantastic deluxe planner that will help keep their lives organized, a set of DVDs about yoga for moms and tots (to tighten up the tummy and have bonding time with mom & tot), a special report on 101 ways to use a crackberry for everything from meal planning to grocery shopping to keeping track of the soccer schedule (including aff links to the crackberry).

Looking at the two different angles when approaching monetization methods, what are the visitors going to “click into” immediately and be tempted by the benefits? What’s going to make them pause for 5 seconds and imagine that product in their lives? Which focus will provide results? The visitor demographics or the visitor intent? Test and see.

Placing targeted ads on a blog or website does not mean: Women = Perfume, Shoes, Cosmetics, Handbags, Mortgage Offers, Credit Card Deals.

Placing targeted ads on your blog or website does mean: Targeting the intent of your visitors.

The easiest intent to convert to sales? Shopping traffic. But that traffic is getting a whole lot harder (and expensive) to find. If you want to successfully monetize “info seekers” or “blog readers”, find products and solutions that are tempting and hard to say no to for the particular motivation of your visitors. They’re subscribing and reading your posts for a reason. Find out why and model your monetization methods around that.

PS: If you respond to this post with “Well, Duhhh”, check out the monetization methods on 90% of blogs–grasping the concept of targeted advertising doesn’t come easy.


I've been trying to find my way online for more years than I care to admit.