In today’s economic climate, advertising has become commoditized into generic, one-size-fits-all campaigns that focus more on quantity (reach) and less on quality (targeting). This has resulted in advertisers using the “spray and pray” approach (TV and print) to achieve a massive audience, while social and digital advertising are an afterthought.

A broad, generically targeted reach strategy may work for some, but focusing on digital first, then TV and print, may have more value than a traditional campaign. This approach lets advertisers zero in on the exact audience that is relevant and can afford the product they are selling. Strategically, buying from the “inside out” hyper-targets niche websites, letting the target audience virally spread a brand’s message in a more meaningful, impactful way.

So why use this non-traditional method for buying? For starters, you’ll be able to target very precisely. Traditional TV measurement estimates the number of viewers watching an ad at a specific time, but digital advertising enables media buyers to measure traffic much more granularly, with insight such as who is viewing the ad. For example, Facebook currently reaches 650 million people and with such a large footprint, brands no longer need to reach all 650 million to be successful. Instead, companies can zero in on their most relevant audience. Digital is much more precise and efficient.

Targeting on digital first also provides a wealth of choices compared with traditional TV or print buying. Digital campaigns can be contextually targeted based on industry vertical, content type or genre. In addition, many publishers are now a mix of traditional and the best of new media, so buying from the inside out offers advertisers the option to integrate them both to run custom campaigns amplified by the rich media and data digital provides. Specific demographic, behavioral and geographic targeting options are also available. Instead of traditional, generalized outreach, advertisers can drill down and can target male doctors ages 35-45 in the greater Seattle area on premium golf and tennis sites.

Digital-first targeting also results in immediate audience impact, which is crucial since the amount of time needed to successfully market a product has shortened drastically in recent years. Previously, traditional campaigns had the luxury of 4-6 months to market a product, but with the advent of digital that time has been reduced to 4-6 weeks. If advertisers don’t take advantage of executing their campaigns during that brief time window, they may not connect with the most influential digital audience that is poised to spread the word when the latest and greatest technology or product launches. Buying from the inside out engages this audience immediately, so their word of mouth quickly snowballs, spreading to and influencing the general population and resulting in weeks of successful advertising for a brand.

Rather than a one-size-fits-all approach, advertisers need to ensure they are directly engaging their most relevant and influential audiences. Focusing on digital, then branching out to more traditional mediums will enable advertisers to deliver maximum impact for brands.

Skip Brand is CEO at Martini Media, an online ad network.

For more on this topic, join us in New York and Los Angeles for the Digiday Video Upfronts, where we’ll show you how the 2012 market will move from the second screen to every screen. To register, please visit www.digidayvideoupfront.com.

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