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Want More Bang for Your Advertising Buck? Try Smaller Sites

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If you advertise online, it may pay to think small, a new study suggests. In many categories, you'll get more bang for your buck by placing your ads on the Web's less-trafficked sites.

Conventional wisdom suggests that you should stick to the top sites on the Web when planning an online campaign. But relying solely on conventional wisdom may prove to be a costly mistake if it means that you ultimately overlook sites with a smaller reach.

A study of more than 1,000 ad campaigns across 18,000 publisher sites last year by Contextweb, a contextual targeting firm, found that ads placed on long-tail sites — those with an overall reach smaller than 1.5 percent of the Internet population — had a significant lift in the click-through rate compared with ads on larger Web properties, eMarketer reported.

Overall, long-tail sites boosted clicks by 24 percent. The so-called long tail was given its name by Chris Anderson, editor of Wired magazine, in his 2006 book, “The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business is Selling Less of More” (Hyperion, 2006).

All advertising verticals show a life from ads on sites in the long tail, but alcohol ads showed the highest lift, at 50 percent, while auto ads only rose by 12 percent.

Other site categories that enjoyed the biggest lift by placement in the long tail include education, technology and computing and hobbies and games.
In addition to providing greater efficiency in clicks for advertisers’ dollars, the long tail is also critical in providing a truly mass reach for ad campaigns.

They frequently provide access to a large audience that is unduplicated by top sites in the same category, and often with similar demographics as visitors to small-tail sites.

And they’re stickier. According to comScore, the vast majority of time spent on the Web is spent with long-tail sites.

Reach BusinessNewsDaily senior writer Ned Smith at nsmith@techmedianetwork.com. Follow him on Twitter @nedbsmith.

Ned Smith

Ned was senior writer at Sweeney Vesty, an international consulting firm, and was Vice President of communications for iQuest Analytics. Before that, he has been a web editor and managed the Internet and intranet sites for Citizens Communications. He began his journalism career as a police reporter with the Roanoke (Va.) Times, and was managing editor of American Way magazine and senior editor of Us. He was a Captain in the U.S. Air Force and held a masters in journalism from the University of Arizona.