November 18, 2015
Marketers and advertisers have targeted ads to journalists and “influencers” for some time. But the practice is getting more advanced and pervasive, as Facebook, Twitter and other social media companies offer more granular targeting tools. In fact, the latest efforts now target customized messages to journalists as specific publications, such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal or USA Today. Reaching individuals who work in media can now be accomplished in a variety of ways, including using profile or email information.
WSJ gives the example of its own reporters targeted with messages from phone sanitation company Phonesoap and dietary supplement firm Herbalife, “specifically because they work for The Wall Street Journal, as noted by disclosures that accompany Facebook’s ads.”
The simplest method is to use social networks’ existing features, such as targeting people who work for specific companies or in specific job functions, based on their public profile information. A marketer might also show ads “only to people at companies Facebook deems to have an interest in journalism or news.”
Digital marketing consultant Aaron Zakowski, who has used this method, notes that, “most public relations people who know what they’re doing would be doing this… To target journalists is pretty easy.”
Facebook, Twitter and other companies also offer email address targeting features, which allows a marketer to target ads specifically to a list of email addresses of journalists concerned with a specific subject. Digital marketing agency aimClear founder Marty Weintraub says this is a good tactic for small companies, “an inexpensive amplification device.”
Weintraub, who believes this kind of ad targeting is “more elegant and effective” than bombarding a journalist with emails and phone calls, adds, “It works. You can get your messages out to incredibly specific people who you know can help you in myriad ways.”