When marketing, don’t buy web sites, buy audiences

by Tony Fannin, President, BE Branded

Typically, when marketers look at buying display ads and online marketing, they tend to think “web sites”. This is how it has been in the short life of the internet and even the shorter life of online marketing. Many believe in buying ads on or integrating their marketing in terms of web sites. This is like buying print ads in specific magazines or on a specific TV show. Because the online world is different, a different mindset must be employed. It is not about seeing web sites in the view of traditional demographics market researchers use. A different view needs to be taken.

The online marketing goal is not to buy web sites, but to buy audiences. This is more fluid and accurate. It’s also more of an art, too. Though the web can provide enough stats to choke a whale, describing your audience is not that exact. The questions that should be asked are more soft:

• Where do my customers hang out? (online and offline)
• Why do they hang out there?
• What do they have in common that’s beyond the physical (age, economics, gender, location)?

The same principles apply to mobile marketing. The traditional way of thinking about demographics doesn’t address the core issue of today’s marketing landscape, which is primarily, all about lifestyle with no real barriers. The internet and smart phones have broken down many of the walls that separated customers into easily identifiable categories. For example, Apple devotees do not fall into a traditional demographic. What does a 15-year old student, a 40-year old business professional, and a 60-year old grandparent all have in common? They all love their Apple products. As you see, they can’t be boxed into a typical demographic. There’s something deeper and more real that is linking all of these types of people together.

When it comes to marketing online, you shouldn’t view your strategy based on what web sites. Think of web sites as micro niches and silos that are cut off from other things around it. Marketing to an audience needs to be more fluid and not so niched. This is why when you are developing your online strategy, you should think about the questions above and how best to relate to an audience, not what web site should we be on. By looking at demographics differently, not just your online strategy will be more effective, all of your other integrated marketing tactics will yield increased results.



About Be Branded

Tony Fannin is of President of BE Branded, an integrated marketing firm who helps clients BE Somebody to their customers. If you aren't somebody, then you are commodity.

4 Responses to “When marketing, don’t buy web sites, buy audiences”

  1. I love this article because we spend sooooo much time on building our websites that lose track of the true purpose. There are so many gadgets, whistles and bells that it sometimes is a challenge to remain focused on the brand you are trying to build.

    • Thank you very much for your comment. You’re right about the web offering us so many “toys”, it’s easy to forget why your web site is doing there in the first place. –Tony

  2. I found your blog on google and read a few of your other posts. I just added you to my Google News Reader. Keep up the good work Look forward to reading more from you in the future.

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