Why Advertisers Shouldn’t Overlook Small Niche Sites

September 26, 2013 Skip Brand

Most advertisers are looking to get the most bang for their buck—and their brand—by advertising on heavily trafficked sites. And while large sites are great places to reach the masses, there’s something to be said for smaller, niche sites.

Niche sites appeal to audience passion. Whether their passion is for wellness, cooking, parenting or bird watching, they drive different behavior than search or news sites. Niche sites engage audiences because visitors really and truly care about the subject matter. They visit regularly, they contribute, they share content.

Lean Forward

In the movie “The Big Chill,” one of the characters, a freelance writer, was told to write pieces that were just long enough for people to read during a trip to the bathroom. In a way, that’s the goal of niche content—to be so engaging, people actually will read it in the loo. Or, better yet (and a lot less gross) they’ll consume it on a tablet.  Tablets are “lean forward.” When people consume content on them, they are focused.

Really good blogs tend to fall into that “lean forward” category. Consumers or business leaders who are truly avid about their chosen subject author them. There’s a reason fashion magazines are partnering with fashion bloggers today: They know that’s where the passionate consumers are going—to content written by equally passionate authors. They’re going past the masses and into the niche. And when they go on these sites, consumers aren’t simply consuming content… They’re pinning it to their Pinterest boards. They’re posting it on Facebook. They’re sharing all their favorite outfits with their fashion-forward friends.

Where Can I Get Those Killer Wedges? (Relevant Ads Can Be Helpful!)

For advertisers, niche sites are true gems. Reaching deeply engaged audiences with relevant messaging can drive exactly the results advertisers crave. The young women who follow those fashion blogs are going to buy some of the items they admire, so smart advertisers will make sure their products are visible and adjacent to that content. Having an ad for the clothing or accessories seen on that page would probably be considered downright helpful to those consumers. Relevancy goes a very long way: To drive results on these sites, advertisements don’t need to be big and flashy, they really just need to be relevant. An ad for the cool necklace or even a knockoff of the shoes seen in that blog post would probably do very well.

Native-style, content-focused ads could be a great fit for niche sites. Let’s stay with our fashion example (because I’m such an expert on the topic). Now, say you want to advertise on a top fashion blog like WhoWhatWear.com or ManRepeller. The smartest type of ad to offer might be one that integrates directly with the content. Maybe your ad could feature a “Daily Shoe,” or a video from your line’s latest fashion show. Forward-thinking fashion publications may also want to advertise on these sites; PopSugar runs ads that link directly to content for The Cut, HuffPost Style and other publications with which it undoubtedly has some profitable partnerships.

Context is an important consideration in advertising on these sites, as it is in most ad buys. Context targets user intent and makes your ad buy more efficient and often more effective. Leaving our fashion example, let’s look at one of the millions of wellness sites out there. With the current juice and smoothie craze, if your company offers a powerful blender, there’s a lot of relevant inventory available. However, the best placements will be on pages that are focused on smoothie recipes or pages that cover the benefits of juicing, rather than more general pages about fitness or organic produce. When your blender appears adjacent to that smoothie recipe, you’ve reached a user who may actually be considering a blender purchase.

Share This (Please!)

Consider making ads shareable when advertising on niche sites. Whether we’re using our wellness example or our fashion example, a fashionista will share an ad for a great top at a great price with her equally trendy Facebook friends. A green smoothie devotee will share an ad for a blender that pulverizes kale with his Twitter followers. Demo videos or look-book style photos will make ads even more appealing. Social sharing is an excellent and measurable way to extend the reach of your ad to a broader, interested audience via a newly activated ambassador.

Another advantage of advertising on niche sites is that they frequently offer lower CPMs since traffic can’t match that of the Big Four. But obviously, you don’t have to sacrifice results for scale. In fact, advertisers don’t even have to sacrifice scale; there are enough quality networks to allow you to really saturate your selected niche or niches.

What it really boils down to is this: Small is beautiful. Niche publishers attract the passionate audience we’re all seeking, whether it’s for fashion, geocaching or CrossFit. And across a network of publishers addressing that niche, there’s the potential for reach. Small doesn’t have to be small at all. In fact, small can yield some pretty big results.

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