Tuesday, July 18, 2006

The Power of Corporate Content: Home Depot Moves to Sell Ads on its Own Web Site

Any number of media companies would sell body parts or family members to become a top 1,000 Web site; for others such a benefit comes more naturally. Comfortably nestled in at number 848 in the current Alexa rankings - even in the middle of a hot do-nothing summer - Home Depot has created a powerful online niche for selling goods and promoting its chain of home improvement stores. But with such a powerful market position, why not leverage the value of those page visits through more than online and in-store sales? Home Depot has taken the plunge and announced that it will take on advertisers for their site.

Online ads will certainly benefit Home Depot's online and in-store sales as well, much in the same way that Wal-Mart's private label shopper's magazine gains ad dollars from their vendors to promote in-store sales. Ads on retail Web sites are somewhat more direct, though, in effect an extension of in-store merchandising programs, providing product promotions right in the "aisles" for shoppers. But more importantly it recognizes the power of the Home Depot site as destination content that provides a common ground for advertisers not found easily elsewhere. It's another example of corporations recognizing the media power of their own content and leveraging it to provide the most powerful communications possible that suit their goals (see our earlier analysis of Boeing's aggressive online site).

While this is relatively bad news for home improvement publications, many of these that are surviving in today's niche-oriented market have gone upscale in their focus and may still benefit if they can provide niche content through sites such as Home Depot's. In other instances, as noted in our earlier news analysis on rich data, B2B-oriented media companies have found ways to repurpose nuts-and-bolts industry content into consumer-friendly services via portals such as Home Depot's. As corporations build relationships online with their markets and take their slice of audience share these types of marketing relationships will only increase. When we say at Shore that today's leading publishers are the individuals and institutions equipped with affordable publishing tools and a deep understanding of their audience's needs, we could now use Home Depot's site as one of the thumbnail graphics, I suppose.
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