Advertisers are Learning to Love Specialist Information Publishers 

The internet has changed marketing forever.

If used well, the internet is a marketer’s dream, enabling them to directly reach their customers. If misunderstood and used incorrectly, it can severely damage or even destroy a company.

The marketing departments of large, traditional companies are just beginning to understand the power of the web and how to use it effectively. When they get it right, the results can be dramatic. Ford made an additional $90 million in revenue just by moving 2% of their marketing budget online.

But, just allocating money to online efforts is not enough. Marketers have to understand the difference between simply buying media to push their message and influencing their buyers whilst they make their buying decision.

Traditional marketing focused on creating a message and pushing that message at a target audience through adverts in print publications, billboards, radio and TV. If the audience believed the message and it was relevant to them, they would buy the product or service. Job done.

This situation is changing very rapidly and it’s the internet that is driving the change.

Buying a Digital Camera 

Last week, I was in the market for a digital camera. I had a rough idea of what I wanted, but was unsure of what was available. A few years ago, the first thing that I would have done to help me make a decision about what to buy would have been to go to a newsagent or Border’s and buy a magazine about digital cameras. Every other page would have a large, colourful advert influencing my decision. Advertisers felt in control of how prospective customers consumed the messages they wanted them to hear.

Last week, buying a magazine did not even cross my mind.

I went straight to the computer and started to search for websites offering independent camera reviews. The quality of the free information I found was superb. It was detailed, informed, professional and comprehensive. If you’re interested in some of the sites I looked at, go to Digital Camera Review ( and Digital Camera Views (

I was in total control of the research process. The camera manufacturers had to sit on the sidelines and wait to see what my verdict was and which camera I had decided to buy.

Customers are now in charge.

Recent research found that over 80% of new car buyers do internet research before making a purchase. The figure is probably similar for all large purchases (homes, holidays, TVs, mobile phones, etc.) For the digital generation, internet research is used even more frequently to decide on many more purchases, including music, books and clothes.

People now decide what they want and go looking for it. It is much harder to push your message at your target audience in the online world.

What has this go to do with specialist information publishers?

My example above about looking for a digital camera should give you a good idea of why specialist information publishers are so important. They are becoming a critical part of the marketing/buying process.

If an online publisher is creating regular articles about a niche subject, they will find their way to the top of the search results pages. If they are being found by people researching what to buy, they will become an important influence on the final buying decision.

The more savvy advertisers are realising this and are starting to court individual experts who could influence their buyers.

Working with Manufacturers and Suppliers

There are many ways that advertisers try to work with (and influence) specialist publishers. They include:

• Provide free products for evaluation
• Invite publishers to company events, such as new product launches
• Provide free products for competitions
• Involve publishers in product development
• Provide sneak previews of new products
• Ask to advertise on their website
• Offer to sponsor all or part of the website

Staying Independent

Some specialist publishers refuse to work with manufacturers and suppliers because they say that it taints their independence.

I think that this is a mistake for three reasons:

  1. A relationship with key companies in your sector should give you access to information that is exclusive and unique. This is very valuable to your readers and is what will keep them loyal to your site.
  2. Having access to senior people in organisations in your sector gives you credibility. If they are willing to spend time talking with you, it endorses you as an expert and a credible source of information.
  3. These companies can become an important regular income stream for your online business through advertising and sponsorship.

Of course, it is essential that you are open and honest about these relationships to all parties concerned.

You must tell suppliers that any relationship will not influence what you write and they will not be able to edit your articles.

Likewise, you should be open with your readers about any relationship you have with companies when writing about them or their products.

It can be a difficult balancing act, but magazine publishers have been doing it for decades, so it is certainly possible.

Specialist information websites are all set to become very important to advertisers. Get ready to make hay whilst the sun shines!