BlogHer: A Case of Precision Targeting

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Article ImageCompany: BlogHer

BlogHer is a community and media company founded in 2005 by Elisa Camahort Page, Lisa Stone, and Jory Des Jardins to answer the question, "Where are all the women bloggers?" BlogHer publishes and syndicates news, information, advice, and recommendations, reaching 55 million women each month across premium blogs, Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, and other social media. The company also delivers research on women in social media, hosts conferences for women in social media, and curates a daily news service,

Business Challenge

In targeting ads that would engage readers and drive revenues for its thousands of advertisers, BlogHer already uses traditional keywords and key values such as age, geography, and time of day. But in an industry in which there is constant pressure on ad prices, and growing expectations by readers that they will be served contextually relevant content, BlogHer wanted to achieve higher precision for keyword and key value targeting in a way that was scalable.

Vendor of Choice: Maxifier

Maxifier, founded in 2010, is a global leader in programmatic premium optimization, working with premium publishers and ad networks to help them to unlock and maximize the value of their total inventory. As more of a brand's advertising dollars move into online channels, Maxifier's ADMAX platform is designed to help publishers optimize the performance of their advertisers' campaigns and overall business performance. Among the New York City-based company's clients are Forbes, The Guardian, and Bauer Media.

The Problem In-Depth

According to Debbie Wogan, chief revenue officer for BlogHer, the need for more precise keyword targeting arose organically. "We had been working with ADMAX's basic product since 2012, and we were starting to see how contextual and behavioral targeting could be beneficial," Wogan says. For example, while the Health vertical is relatively small on the BlogHer platform, there are many bloggers talking about healthy living in the context of the food, parenting, and lifestyle blogs that comprise the biggest segments of the BlogHer network. "We wanted to look at our entire audience, hone in on those conversations and then optimize the ads placed there," Wogan says.

Denise Colella, president of Maxifier, points out that audiences are getting acclimated to personalized content and expect the same from the advertisements they see: "All the major sites like Yahoo! offer personalization, so users expect a more targeted environment, even in their ads." Still, just because the user data exists for many publishers to do that targeting doesn't mean it's an easy process. "If you think about BlogHer, which has thousands of advertisers, multiplied by the number of end users, multiplied by the number of ad slots," Colella says, "the number of possible permutations is huge."

Colella sees this as a serious challenge for publishers. "There are too many publishers spending money to compile large amounts of user data, and then not acting on it," she says. "It's like buying a new pair of running shoes and then never putting them on."

Indeed, BlogHer's advertising operations team was working hard to perform contextual targeting manually, but Wogan says it wasn't scalable. "We used to have to pull reports and see how to optimize keywords ourselves," she says. "When we heard that Maxifier was working on a module that would provide automated contextual and behavioral targeting, we jumped on board."

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