Big, national brands like McDonald’s or Coca-cola spend billions of dollars sending messages to mass audiences.  Obviously, these giant corporations would not spend that money if they did not believe that advertising works.  The drawback to mass advertising is that many ads get wasted on people who will never convert to customers because they just aren’t the right market.

Businesses that have to be careful with their ad budgets look to maximize the advertising to the right people and to minimize advertising to the wrong people. The online advertising industry calls this approach “targeted advertising.” Note that with targeted advertising, different individuals receive different messages based upon their lifestyle, demographic category, and behavior. Pushed to its logical limits, targeted advertising would show each individual an ad tailor-fit to their identity! Needless to say, targeted advertising is the only sensible approach for small businesses.

With traditional media like coupon books, newspapers, and television, targeting a precise audience is a challenge. Although a television audience’s demographic make-up can be approximated, outside of surveys consumer engagement with television ads cannot be determined with precision.

New media have changed the game. With data from companies like comScore,  Quantcast, or Nielsen, all of which specialize in analyzing online audiences, one can answer questions like: which websites attract which demographic? What are the interests and opinions of users who visit a certain website? How many times do users visit certain webpages during a time period? How long do they stay on a webpage and which features do they interact with?

The best part of this is that this information grants small businesses the power to target specific audiences online. Imagine, for example, you are a local bicycle shop owner that wants to draw more customers to your store. Digital targeting enables you to:

  • place your ad on websites about sports (like or even the sports section of the New York Times), cycling (like, or local routes (like
  • place your ad on websites frequented by people who have an active lifestyle (like
  • place your ad on websites that are only viewed by people who live in zip codes your business serves
  • show your ad repeatedly to users who have already visited your webpage and showed interest in your store, but have not yet completed a purchase

Sounds great; but does it work? According to a 2009 Network Advertising Initiative study, the answer is definitely yes. The study reports that targeted advertising secures an average of 2.7 times as much revenue per ad as non-targeted “run of network” ads that are placed at random across the web. It also showed that targeted advertising is twice as effective at converting users who click on ads into customers.

What’s more, today’s advertisers have the power judge online advertising performance themselves: campaigns include detailed reports on user engagement with ads.  Knowing what works means that future campaigns can be even more efficient.

At Vantage Local we take particular care to build comprehensive media plans in which we hand pick websites for ad placement to optimize our clients’ performance. Call us at 1-855-77-LOCAL (1-855-775-6225) to hear more about how targeted online display advertising can transform your local business marketing efforts.