Former university professor of marketing and communications, Sallie is an independent publisher and marketing communications consultant.
When advertising efforts are targeted toward a single, specific industry, it is called “vertical advertising.” Vertical advertising consists of marketing and promotions that are confined to a particular segment, and that segment narrowly contains prospective customers in need of what is being advertised. And, while the market for the vertically advertised product or service might be narrowly defined, it is also potentially deep—within a segment could include many prospective customers for a particular product or service. For example, stay-at-home moms, wedding planners, commercial real estate buyers, and private elementary school principals all represent prospective audiences for vertical marketing/advertising opportunities.
Unlike vertical, horizontal advertising is not confined to a single industry. Instead, this type of advertising targets prospective customers in many different industries, and sometimes the public, in general. For example, while vertical advertising might be designed to appeal to people in the textile industry, horizontal advertising might target business owners in all industries.
Why Use Vertical Advertising Strategies?
As an industry-specific group, potential customers who are part of a vertical market will usually read the same publications and attend the same industry events. As an advertiser, when you can put a large portion of your advertising budget into communications targeting people in a specific industry who will most likely see the same messages, there is a good chance you will have a better chance of creating strong brand recognition. That means you might be able to create advertising messages that, while communicating effectively with your target prospects, will allow you to be cost effective too, as you reach them.
Benefits of Using a Vertical Advertising Strategy
By concentrating advertising efforts in trade magazines and other industry-specific publications, by advertising on websites targeting a specific industry, or buying space in consumer publications that reach people in a particular field, advertisers are able to maximize message exposure as they build brand recognition and credibility. Vertical advertising can also help advertisers gain access to prospective customers at times when there may be far less competition for their attention.
Advertising agencies and marketing firms using traditional advertising techniques to reach prospects in a specific industry can also benefit from vertical strategies because they are often able to charge more for preparing industry- or niche-specific ad messages and campaigns. Why? Because they have amassed a great degree of specialized knowledge and experience in a particular industry, and are most likely capable of communicating better and more effectively with prospective audiences in industry markets.
Online advertisers can also reap benefits from using a vertical advertising strategy. How? They can use vertical advertising networks to produce ads based on their websites' subject areas. Vertical ad networks will only post ads to sites in a given field, or specific industry category. Doing so adds value to a site visitors experience by eliminating advertising messages for unrelated products, and by offering ads for products or services that are directly related to the reason the visitor decided to come to a particular website.
Finally, advertisers utilizing vertical strategies can gain a great deal of experience that they can apply when engaged in horizontal advertising (most advertisers don't limit themselves to one or the other). Experience in a specific industry produces a depth of knowledge in that industry, making the advertiser somewhat of an “expert” when it comes to creating effective advertising for that industry. In addition, having specialized knowledge can help an advertiser be more effective when targeting prospects in other industries too. For example, if you’ve become an expert in developing effective advertising communications to reach publishers in the beverage industry, as an advertiser, you would not be limited to reaching publishers in the beverage industry. You would be able to use your knowledge and expertise related to publishers and publishing, to reach publishers in other industries too.
© 2012 Sallie B Middlebrook PhD