Something else that newspapers can’t do . . .

Here’s an idea . . .

In all fairness, I’m not even sure websites can do this yet.  Well, I’m sure they can, but I’m not sure they are doing this yet.

I know our industry isn’t . . . but I think you’ll agree after you read this entry, that we should.

If you’re advertising a show, you may buy banner ads across a news website like or Playbill or even Huffpo.

Your ads are served across the network, in most cases,  or what is called ROS or Run of Site, which means they are served on all pages.  Or, maybe you target just the home page, or a listings page, etc.

But what if you could target just your content pages . . . and what if you could retarget the people that visit those pages?

Follow me.

If a customer visits and happens to see an editorial article on, oh, I don’t know, Godspell, let’s say . . . and clicks on that link to read that article . . . then “duh” wisdom will tell you that the clicker is a qualified lead for Godspell.  Someone reading editorial is more likely to be interested, and therefore more likely to make a purchase.

Well, the great thing about niche industry sites like Playbill and BroadwayWorld is that . . . yep . . . they contain many pages about similiar content. There are a ton of articles about Godspell, Mormon, Wicked, etc.  And someone reading more than two articles is more inclined to purchase than one article.  And someone reading three articles is more inclined to purchase than two articles, and so on, and so on.

Imagine if news sites gave you the following options:

  • Serve ads on pages in which your editorial content appears (that’s easy)
  • Serve ads to people that have visited one editorial article (getting trickier)
  • Serve ads to people that have visited between exactly three articles (advanced)
  • Serve ads to people that have visited editorial articles about shows that are similar to yours (got a family show, target people that have read articles about Mary Poppins.)
  • And on and on and on

Google allows some of the easier bullet points on this list to happen with sites on its content network.  But I’m lobbying for our sites (especially the ones that don’t use the Google Content network) to look at building in their own network that allows us to focus on retargeting those folks who have read all about the shows, but haven’t purchased yet.

What the internet allows us to do is get very, very specific in terms of the people we target.  It allows us to fire missles instead of drop big ol’ expensive bombs.

Less waste and better results.

Maybe we can’t do this yet, but we can apply the theory.  Editorial means interest.  Find the people reading your articles, and you’ll find the people who just might buy your tickets.


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  • Kristopher says:

    I really like your “missiles instead of bombs” analogy…it’s got me thinkin’.

  • Scott says:

    Your ideas – as usual – are interesting and food for thought. I am an Information Architect and Interactive Designer by profession. The technologies that you speak of are available today. The issue is audience trust.
    I am sure you have noticed that whenever Google or Facebook change their privacy settings there is a media uproar. We live in a time where there is so little trust and a hugely perceived abuse of privacy (some true, some unfounded).
    Setting “cookies” that detect and track the user’s experience is a common practice but met with tremendous resistance by an audience who is already terrified of CRM (Consumer Research Marketing).
    I believe we’ll get there, but understand its about trust and setting appropriate online expectations and not about the technologies that push pixels.

  • Joe says:

    Through ‘re-targetting’ and ‘re-marketing’ most sites *can* do exactly what you are describing. A pixel is simply implanted on each page you want to track and then ads are served back to the patron who visited that page when they visit other sites.
    I can’t speak to or huffingtonpost, but daily newspaper websites in most cities provide this service to marketers, and the same service can be applied back to your own website. Add the pixel to your site and then serve back ads after the fact at time you determine.
    For example, let’s say that you aren’t putting tickets on sale until X date, but have your website launch to start pre-buzz much earlier. Then, the week before you put tickets on sale, you start to re-target those folks who visited your website last month with ads on other websites they visit announcing the onsale date, and then the day you do go on sale, saturate them with ads that tickets *have* gone on sale.
    To get media sites like playbill, Variety, etc to do what you are describing, segmenting their audiences viewing habits show title by show title may still be a little while coming, but there are plenty of ways around that to get the results you’re looking for.

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