Homepage takeovers are wildly inefficient: here’s why

Takeover Ad

Takeover Ad

Earlier this year, Digiday revealed how much brands are paying to take over the homepage of major sites across the web, and the results were pretty shocking: US$450 000 for a one-day homepage takeover at Yahoo!; US$400 000 for a one-day YouTube takeover; US$400 000 for an AOL takeover, too.

I can think of about 10 000 better ways for media buyers to spend their display budgets (and only half of them involve expensive rum and Barcelona). You’re making a huge bet that the right people will visit Yahoo! or AOL that day and see your ads, and, chances are, they will not. Returns on homepage takeovers for direct response marketers are usually very low.

It’s easy to see why — very diverse groups of people visit Yahoo! and AOL. Making such a broad marketing buy may have been acceptable a decade ago when ad targeting was in its infancy; to marketers accustomed to big TV buys, homepage takeovers made sense. But it’s not acceptable today, when marketers have the tools to target an individual with display ads based on their behaviour and to customize their campaigns based on what’s working best. With a homepage takeover, you put all your eggs in one basket and you don’t learn much beyond, “Wow, that was a really expensive basket.”

So, forget homepage takeovers, and embrace something I call the “intent takeover.” The intent takeover allows marketers to take ownership of a specific demographic—the demographic you want to reach—that happens to visit a site like Yahoo!. That way, you only spend money trying to reach the people who are actually interested in your product.

I’m talking about a world where people in marketing only talk to the people interested in what they have to offer. It’s the perfect equation for cutting costs while increasing returns, and it’s a better advertising ecosystem for marketers and consumers alike.

So, what makes an intent takeover possible? A practice called Search Retargeting, which lets marketers target people with display ads based on the search terms they’ve entered into sites like Google, Yahoo! and Bing.

Let’s imagine an example: you’re a major sports apparel brand that just landed a deal to manufacture the Premiere League’s football kits. You want to get the word out. One option would be to dole out the cash for a homepage takeover on Yahoo!. This would be an expensive way to advertise the sale to millions of people who don’t care about football.

The alternative would be a Search Retargeting campaign in which you identify the important keywords used by football fans, just as you would with a search engine marketing (SEM) campaign. But instead of paying for expensive search ads on Google, you can use Search Retargeting to target the people who searched for those very same terms, except this time at a lower cost with dynamic display ads. These ads are purchased via real-time bidding on ad exchanges, and it works so well that even Facebook is getting in on the action.

Instead of paying to target a broad audience via a site takeover, you’re using Search Retargeting to target individuals based on their search terms. It’s simply a much cheaper and effective approach. In fact, at my company, Chango, we often see intent takeovers deliver returns 10 times that of homepage takeovers. So, ask yourself: are you ready to stop taking over homepages, and start taking over the attention of the people who want to buy your product?

Image: ursonate (via Flickr).



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