Marketers: Ignore Long-Tail Sites at Your Own Risk

So, you have a great new product to sell. It does things that have never been done before. Initial sales have been positive and you’re ready to take said product to the masses. You want everyone and their grandmother to know about it.

What do you do? If you are an eCommerce company you take it to the streets — other online sites your target customer is visiting.

You want the biggest and the best so you sign on for a pricey ad package with some of the heavy weights: NYTimes.com, Yahoo, People.com, Time.

Great idea or GREATEST idea?

(Heavy sigh)

We’re fans of exploring hidden option C in this scenario: neither. And a recent study conducted by CONTEXTWEB makes one of the more compelling options for “neither” that we’ve seen in recent months.

In an article earlier this week eMarketer highlighted the results of the study, which found that while most ad campaigns concentrate dollars on top sites, those campaigns that placed ads on long-tail sites (as defined as having a reach smaller than 1.5% of the internet population) experienced click through rates that were 24% higher than campaigns focusing on sites with the greatest reach.

EVERY type of advertiser experienced this spike.

What this means for eCommerce marketers is simple: it isn’t necessarily a great (or a greatest) idea to dedicate all of your ad dollars to the big guys. Consider who your target customer is and target sites based not only on whether that individual will be on the site but also what their intent on that site is.

While you may have empirical evidence that your ideal customer visits the New York Times, what is their intent when they are on the site? Purchasing something may not be top of mind. However, on a niche (long-tail) site, you may catch that same individual at a time when they are physically looking for our product. This will be a far easier sale to make than the alternative.

And while these particular stats are focused around traditional advertising, based on VigLink customer data the same numbers ring true for merchants that leverage affiliate programs to promote their products. Some of VigLink’s most successful publishers (those whose links generate the highest volume of sales for merchants) boast a very specific type of user with a very specific intent. These niche publishers can bring a huge amount of value to a merchant and should not be overlooked.

eMarketer alludes to a pretty powerful comScore stat at the close of their article:

“The vast majority of time spent on the web is spent with long-tail sites, while the lion’s share of ad dollars is spent on the short tail.”

Isn’t it time we reversed this trend?

Check out the full article here and then tell us what you think. Are you a merchant that has successfully promoted your product on a “long-tail” site? Are you a publisher whose user base is highly targeted with a specific intent? Have you been able to translate this intent into dollars in your pocket?

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ABOUT VIGLINK

By identifying commercial products mentioned within a publisher’s content, VigLink automatically invigorates those terms by transforming them into revenue generating hyperlinks whose destinations are determined in real-time, advertiser-bid auctions.