As advertisers look for more ways to yield greater efficiency, going narrower but still with some scale means looking seriously at vertical ad networks.
Vertical ad networks are all the rage. If they aren't the toast of the town these days, they certainly are the talk of it.
However, vertical ad networks are nothing new. They are online advertising networks that have a particular focus. They aggregate a collection of sites together that have an affinity with one another and bring those "passion places" together in a way that provides advertisers meaningful scale without the uncertainty of a vast collection of unknown and dissimilar sites.
The appeal of a vertical ad network is first and foremost its focus. Second is the modicum of control it offers. As advertisers look for more ways to yield greater efficiencies and better accountability, going narrower but still with some scale means looking more seriously at vertical ad networks.
Travel Advertising Network is one such vertical, and company representatives gave the folks at the iMedia Agency Summit in La Quinta, Calif., a good look at what they are doing and why vertical ad networks are so important.
Travel Ad Network actually has the largest travel information audience in the world, with 19 million users worldwide (14 million in the U.S.). Notice that I did not say "travel" audience. This is an audience looking for information about traveling, be it destinations or transportation or boarding. This is not where they transact, according to Cree Lawson, founder/CEO, and Brian Silver, president. Their users are "in the aisles."
Why a vertical ad network?
The reason Travel Ad Network went this route was for three reasons: They listened to their clients who were demanding some level of transparency; they could get a better quality of advertiser; and they offered exclusive representation.
The guys from Travel Ad Network proceeded to deliver some valuable information in the form of a kind of Trivial Pursuit game. These questions and their answers make a terrific primer on vertical ad networks (particularly of the travel variety).
1. Are consumers different at vertical ad networks than horizontal ad networks? No. The reason advertisers should use vertical ad networks is not necessarily because the audiences there are so different than horizontal ad networks, but because those audiences are more engaged. As Lawson and Silver pointed out during their Spotlight presentation, people found in either horizontal or vertical ad networks are equally diverse. But those found within the confines of a vertical network have a higher degree of engagement and specialization. They are in their passion places.
2. Which ad supported property is in comScore's Buying Power Index top 10 list? Yes, Yahoo is there. But at the very top is Travel Ad Network, with a BPI of 280. That means that the average person found within Travel Ad Network has 2.8 times more buying power than the average person online.
3. What percentage of brands that advertise in verticals are endemic versus non-endemic? It turns out a lot more non-endemic advertising is going on. Just to give you a sense of what is meant by this: Less than 25 percent of advertising in a travel magazine is from travel product advertisers.
4. How many visits to travel sites does the average consumer make before booking a trip? Twenty-two. Before you click that "buy" button to book your airfare or hotel, chances are you've been to sites 22 times. That doesn't mean you've been to 22 sites, but you have made 22 different trips online before making your decision. It turns out that 15 percent of people don't know where they are going when they start planning, and 39 percent don't know when they will be traveling. This provides ample opportunity to talk to people in the questing frame of mind, to inform their seeking.
5. How much has the share of total page views changed for travel agencies in the last two years? It's down 15 percent. With all the information out there, people are starting to go around booking engines to find out what they want to know, and then pop onto that booking engine at the last minute to get the transaction done. If you are looking for an audience that is a travel audience, or has affinity with it, there are many chances to message that audience before they get to buy.
6. How much of every dollar spent online is spent on travel/travel products? Forty-four percent. That's right, $.44 of every dollar is spent on travel. This does not mean that travel makes up the bulk of the transactions. As someone in the audience pointed out, the dollars per transaction for travel are much higher than they are for, say, books. But all that means is that the online travel buyer is someone comfortable with spending a good deal of money online. The point here is that verticals are good for those "spending" audiences.
Vertical ad networks, like any ad network, may consist of a lot of sites an advertiser has never heard of. But if the audience they are looking for has, and that audience is at those sites, it makes sense to be there when the audience is there. You may not recognize the cover of the book, but if the book is being read, isn't that all that matters?