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At a time when the act of direct advertising sales (both online and offline) is getting tougher due to economic conditions, I thought it'd be worthwhile to discuss the oft-unrecognized distinction between selling ads to endemic advertisers and selling ads to advertisers looking to reach a specific demographic.
In talking with other online publishers I've learned that surprisingly, many don't understand the difference.
An endemic advertiser is an advertiser whose products and services directly address your audience. If you run a sports website, for instance, Nike is an endemic advertiser. It is 'native' to the sports market and has a real need to advertise on websites like yours.
On the other hand, a demographic advertiser is an advertiser whose products and services generally appeal to one or more demographic groups. If you run a website that primarily serves young adults, for instance, a company like Red Bull that targets that demographic might have an interest in advertising on a website like yours.
The differences between these two types of advertisers may seem fairly minor but in my experience, they are not. Selling to endemic advertisers is often easier than selling to demographic advertisers for two primary reasons:
Endemic advertisers 'need' to advertise with you. Well not really, but they need to advertise on properties like yours. Properties like yours are known to be a good fit. Contrast that with a deal based on demographics - you might have the right demographic but it still may not be immediately obvious that your property is a good fit for a campaign targeting the demographic. More needs to be looked at.
Because there's typically less to consider, endemic ad deals usually require a much less complicated pitch and in my experience, decisions are frequently made with a bit less 'scrutiny.'
Since relationships are very important to ad sales, I'd observe that it's also typically a bit easier to build relationships with endemic advertisers than it is with demographic advertisers for a simple reason - you have something obvious to 'talk' about and the ability to develop a closer bond exists.
There's a bit less competition. Any demographic advertiser looking to reach males aged 18-34 has a significant number of options. Getting on the radar of demographic advertisers often requires significant scale. Unless you run an established property whose brand is widely recognized, selling is probably going to be a real challenge.
Scale is important to endemic advertisers too but we're usually talking about a different scale because there's usually less competition. For instance, if you run a popular website catering to avid runners, Nike probably has far fewer properties to choose from in this space than an advertiser looking to simply reach young males does.
As online publishers gear up for slower growth and possible cuts in ad spend due to today's economic environment, knowing the difference between endemic advertisers and demographic advertisers is crucial in my opinion.
I anticipate that online properties, especially those serving niche products, will find that endemic advertisers are increasingly going to be responsible for sustaining the bulk of business. Publishers who are heavily reliant on demographic advertisers are much more vulnerable.
Given this, focusing ad sales on your endemic advertisers (as opposed to demographic advertisers) represents the better investment for online publishers today in my opinion.
If you don't know who your endemic advertisers are, haven't been making the distinction between endemic versus demographic in your ad sales efforts and aven't been busy the past several years building relationships with your endemic advertisers, it's time to get started.