WSJ Online Targets Ads to User Interests

The Wall Street Journal Online announced on Tuesday the introduction of interest-based targeting, which allows advertisers to zero in on users who have shown interest in a particular subject matter.

The new capability, delivered by Revenue Science’s Switched-On Audience Select product, is available across all of the Online Journal’s sites, from to Barron’s Online and on its other specialized sites. It offers advertisers targeting for eight interest areas, from consumer technology to investing to health. Each area has its own criteria for qualification and the sections are refreshed each 30 days.

With the service, for example, a travel advertiser can target ads to a person who is a frequent visitor to the travel area of In doing so, the marketer does not need to advertise specifically on the travel section. While an advantage to advertisers, such targeting capabilities are a boon for online publishers, which often find themselves with lopsided demand for certain verticals, such as travel and automotive, and slack demand for others like sports and politics.

“While this will work well for many advertisers, we believe consumer-oriented advertising, like auto, travel and electronics, will see especially great benefits,” said Randy Kilgore, the Online Journal’s vice president of online advertising.

Interest-based targeting puts users into various categories, from technology to travel to automotive, based on the sections of the site they visit. A user visiting the technology section five times in a week would be classified in that segment.

The Online Journal’s product is the mirror image of the wide-angle targeting capability rolled out by New York Times Digital (NYTD) in February. Like the interest-based targeting, NYTD’s capability allows advertisers to seek out potential customers anywhere on the site by grouping users based on their site behavior over the past 30 days.

“We’ve been seeing some positive results,” said Barbara Rice, NYTD’s group director of research. NYTD has seen success in combining its wide-angle targeting with its demographic data to pinpoint consumers even better. Thus, a car manufacturer could target not just frequent readers of the Auto section, but those who are males age 25 to 30.

Kilgore said the Online Journal could also offer combinations of demographic and behavior targeting. Like NYTD, the Online Journal has the luxury of a trove of demographic information thanks to its registration process.

At NYTD, Rice said CPM rates for wide-angle ads are somewhat lower than contextual-targeted ads. However, Rice said that could change if NYTD added levels to the groups, with extremely heavy readers of travel pages, for example, garnering a higher CPM.

Online publishers have rolled out a number of targeting opportunities for advertisers. One of the biggest pushes of late has been for dayparts, which allows advertisers to target consumers during a specific part of the day. A variety of research has confirmed that the Internet is the ideal medium for reaching consumers during the workday. In addition, NYTD sells “surround sessions,” which allow an advertiser to follow a user around the site with ad impressions.

The Online Journal also offers other targeting options, such as demographic and contextual targeting, as well as dayparts.

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