optimising online revenue

Monetize repeat traffic through smargeting

October 2009


It's great to get repeat traffic - isn't it? After all, regular visits mean you're definitely doing something right, and your visitors' appreciation should be shared by search engines too.

But if you're trying to make money online - particularly if you're running a blog - repeat traffic doesn't necessarily make economic sense.

To start with, because regular visitors are constantly exposed to your ad formats and strategies, they'll soon start to take less of an interest in your marketing. And the more they visit, the greater their ad blindness is likely to become.

What's more, repeat visitors know exactly what they're coming back for - your content. As they focus on what you've got to say, the appeal of the ads around them is likely to drop even further.

Not the best situation for you, despite your hoards of happy users.


Of course, one way to offset this effect is via referrals within your content, and although it's a strategy that works well for many, it's a difficult balancing act. There's a very fine line between informative copy and a bare-faced sell; your recommendations will need to provide real value or they'll be viewed as a sham. Hunting down referral products that fit the bill takes time and effort, further work on top of the hours spent maintaining your blog in the first place.


So what's the solution?

The answer is to take a smarter approach to the advertising you already use. A simple change, but a radical one. And then use basic smargeting techniques to recapture your audience's flagging ad interest.

Before going further, it should be pointed out that while conventional online advertising strategy relies heavily on blending - 'camouflaging' ads by making them similar in appearance to the page itself - smargeting is instead about 'psycho-blending', or choosing formats for a particular audience.

Indeed, this may even involve regular format changes on the basis that novelty provokes curiosity. But that said, let's look at how smargeting can successfully target your repeat traffic audience.

A blank canvas

The first thing to do - and you may need to take a deep breath here - is drop your ads altogether.

Yes, that's correct - get rid of them, or at least reduce their quantity substantially, although before you stop reading completely, you're only going to do this for new entries, and only for a short time.

If this seems crazy, remember that brand new updates are precisely the ones your regular readers are likely to see very quickly.

Your advertising has far less impact on this audience in any case, but what you will do is include ads a week or so after publication.

That way, any casual traffic arriving via search engines or other links to your site or blog will be targeted by your usual marketing.

It's a fairly simple change to make, but an effective one with major benefits.

To start with, it's likely your regular traffic will quickly come to appreciate their custom 'ad-lo' environment, but it's something you can use to your advantage, as well as theirs.

In fact, by creating a relatively blank canvas for your repeat users, you'll be in a position to employ the most subtle smargeting trick of all. Which is to run occasional campaigns that should attract the right kind of attention simply because they are unexpected.

Think about it - a regular visitor opens your blog to discover a couple of banners. They haven't seen ads on your site for a while, so will certainly notice them, and hopefully feel curious enough to investigate further, too.

And because these campaigns will be brief and intermittent, even visitors irked by an apparent return to the b(ad) old days will quickly realize this isn't the case.

In other words, it's a win-win situation - for your most devoted users, and hopefully, you and your finances too.


Finding easier ways to make ads work their hardest is what smarter targeting is all about, and once you've developed the environment outlined above you'll want to smarget your ad formats, too.

For each one-off ad blast, experiment with a different advertising vehicle. Peelback ads; mini-malls; inline text - you'll find plenty to choose from right here at clickspiration.com. With each new mini-campaign, aim for contrast in order to maintain a sense of surprise and click-curiosity.

What's more, by keeping a close eye on stats every time you run differently formatted ads, you'll get some idea how psycho-blending principals relate to your particular users, too. Was inline text a surprise success? Then perhaps it's a format that particularly appeals to your specific audience profile.

Of course, the element of novelty will always have a strong influence on such findings, and whatever's being advertised is clearly another major factor.

But despite these variables, any higher than average ad popularity is certainly worth testing further. Which is something you can do very easily by running these formats in your back-dated, ad-rich pages aimed at casual traffic.

So there you have it - a simple yet effective smargeting approach to optimizing for repeat traffic. Enjoy its success.

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