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, since regular visitors are constantly exposed to your advertising, its appeal will quickly start to diminish. And the more they visit, the less effective it’s likely to become.

What’s more, repeat visitors know exactly what they’re coming back for – your content. As they focus more intently on what you’ve got to say, the efficiency of any ads around them is likely to dip 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 while it’s a strategy that works for many, in truth it’s a difficult thing to do well.

There’s a very fine line between informative copy and what amounts to a bare-faced, hard sell; your recommendations will need to provide real value or risk being seen as a money-grabbing sham. And hunting down worthwhile products takes time and effort, meaning more hard work in addition to maintaining your blog.

So what’s the solution?

The answer is to take a smarter approach to the advertising you already use. A simple yet radical change that employs basic smargeting techniques to recapture your audience’s flagging interest.

Before going further, it should be pointed out that while conventional online strategy relies heavily on blending – ‘camouflaging’ ads by making them similar in appearance to the page itself – smart targeting focuses instead on ‘psycho-blending’, or formats aimed at a particular audience. This may even involve regular ad changes on the basis that novelty generally provokes curiosity.

But let’s look at just how smart targeting can successfully target repeat traffic.

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 entirely I’ll point out that you’re only going to do this for new entries, and only for short periods of time.

If this seems crazy, remember that new updates are precisely the ones recurrent 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 place ads on your pages a week or so after publication.

That way, they’ll be seen by any casual traffic arriving via search engines or other links to your site.

It’s a simple change to make, but an effective one with real benefits.

To start with, it’s likely that regular users will quickly come to appreciate their custom ‘ad-lo’ environment, but as well as making loyal readers happier, there’s another advantage in it for you.

Because by creating a blank canvas, you’ll be in a position to employ the most subtle smart targeting trick of all; which is to now run intermittent campaigns.

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 this sudden appearance not only attracts attention, but hopefully, also prompts them to investigate further.

And because these campaigns will be brief and sporadic, even visitors irked by an apparent return to the b(ad) old days will quickly realize they’ve nothing to fear.

In other words, it’s a win-win situation – for your most devoted visitors, and hopefully, you and your finances.

Smart Targeting formats

Making ads work harder is what smargeting is all about, and once you’ve created a blank canvas environment 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 And with each new mini-campaign, you should aim for contrast to maintain a sense of surprise and click-curiosity.

What’s more, by keeping a close eye on stats every time you use a different format, you’ll get some idea how psycho-blending relates to your own segment of users. 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 is 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 technique for optimizing potentially problematic traffic. Enjoy its success!

Adapted from an original article by Mike Brennan

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Thursday, May 29th, 2008 at 11:01 am
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