Creating innovative ad campaigns in specialist markets

Finding new revenue sources in specialist media markets is tough: cover prices in print are capped by competitive pressures and subscriptions need to be keenly priced.  Circulation volumes are often limited, and rates for standard ad units are under pressure.  But niche publishers have a great asset in their passionate communities and strong reader relationships, and with the right approach this can be harnessed to create innovative ad campaigns for relatively large advertisers and bring in incremental revenue.  I was impressed by the story of how Military Times created a campaign for Intel, and think it has many lessons relevant to other specialist media businesses.

1. Know your audience and their passions

Military Times’ audience are interested in military history, military tactics and strategy games.  They are well-informed and opinionated.  In niche markets, readers are often as expert as the editorial team, and are keen to have opportunities to show off their knowledge.

2. Create a compelling campaign idea

For Intel and Civilisation V, Military Times created a campaign: “Who is the Greatest Leader of All Time.”  This could be fuelled by editorial content but also start a debate among readers and culminate in an overall winner.

3. Run across print & web

Editorial began in the pages of the magazine, then spread online, with lively debate in forums.  Notable history bloggers contributed their views in print and in a special channel online.  This provided plenty of fuel for the discussion.

4. Encourage reader feedback

Readers were encouraged to debate the merits of different candidates and explain their reasoning, leading to lively online discussions, and also voting.  2000 entries were posted on the website, many with mini-essays justifying their choice.

5. Publicise outside your own media

The debate was seeded onto military history forums outside the magazine, and interviews with editors were broadcast on British Forces Radio.  All this grew website traffic by 400%, resulting in a very happy client.

Read the full story of Military Times and Intel on the Media Pioneers section of the Specialist Media Show site.  If you think your business could be a Media Pioneer, please get in touch with more details.

If  you have experience of integrated ad campaigns in specialist markets to share, please comment below, or join the Specialist Media Network on Linked-in and swap ideas with over 500 other specialist media people.

About the author: Carolyn Morgan runs Penmaen Media, creating digital media and marketing strategy for media businesses.  If you’d like to discuss how to develop a digital publishing strategy for your business, please contact us for an informal chat.