Picking Winners: How to Optimally Place Your Banner Ad in Science Publications

From audience size and type to competition, there are lots of considerations when deciding where to place banner advertisements in science publications. These tips will show you how to choose the best spots and get the best value.

By C&EN Media Group

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Choice can sometimes feel overwhelming: The sheer volume of platforms alone can look complicated for even the most experienced ad-buy expert. And when there’s multiple decision-makers involved, reaching a consensus is no easy feat. But we are here to tell you: It doesn’t need to be so challenging!

Below we break down some key considerations that will guide you to the right science platform. Once found, you can engage in effective, powerful partnerships that will earn you the best spot and the best value for your ad spend.

Your Audience Strategy

Go where the scientists linger.

Audience boils down to one simple question: “Are the people that read this the people I want to sell to?”
It sounds easy, but there are many layers to this question — and many get overlooked. To understand your audience, you need to understand your product. Once you do, you can determine:

Content quality – Billboards get placed on busy highways and intersections where traffic stalls. As such, people have time to digest the information. Take that approach to your banner ad placements. Go where the scientists linger. In digital terms this translates to “time on page,” which often correlates with the length and quality of the content. High-quality, high-content pages attract the most views and should be considered the Number One factor when placing ads. Give your banner the best chance of being noticed.

Relevancy – Plenty of researchers use Facebook, but that doesn’t make the platform a good fit for your sophisticated mass spectrometer. Instead, choose a prestigious biochemistry journal or publication that is connected to what you do. The content should fit with the page. (For the same reason, you should refrain from posting instrument selfies in academic journals…)

Audience reach — Whether you’re global or regional, pay attention to the geographic spread of the audience. If global, does the outlet cover all the major markets? If regional, what pages would best target the consumers in your region?

Users vs. buyers – If you’re promoting a big-ticket item, such as a bioreactor, your core audience is not the scientist-user, but likely the folks higher up the ranks. You need to know who the true decision-makers are. Targeting senior management may mean skipping academic journals in favor of the trade publications they read.

General lab supplies vs. clinical genomics tools – If you’re selling pipettes, it’s hard to go wrong with general science publications. But if your offerings are more unique, you may want to get more specialized. Outlets typically charge based on impressions or a flat-rate fee that is derived from the total audience. As best as you can, you want to ensure those eyeballs are qualified readers. Publications and journals such as ACS Chemical Neuroscience or Journal of Proteome Research draw self-selected readers who are genuinely interested and knowledgeable in that particular field. And it’s often a much more valuable audience for your ad spend.

Using push pieces of content – For many publications, the bulk of their traffic comes through an e-newsletter or a similar outreach. If this is where the engagement happens, you may want to consider placing your banner ad on the outbound email – not the actual landing page.

How Do I Get This Information?

Most good media kits will provide you with a breakdown of their readership; their job titles, education level, location and more. But there will always be nuances regarding your particular campaign goal, so don’t hesitate to reach out and ask a relevant ad rep.

Another good tactic if you’re starting out is to do an audit of your competitors’ ad buying behavior. If you’re trying to make a name for your company, associating yourselves with the same publications will transfer some trust and familiarity. They’ve also likely done the audience analysis and determined it’s a good fit. Depending on your strategy, you may also want to be where your competition is, and give readers more options. With this said, audits should be a starting point only. It’s important to branch out and explore new placements and opportunities, given how fast the field evolves. In essence, you want to be the trend-setter, not the “me too.”

Finalizing Your Deal

You can buy off-the-shelf advertising packages – many people do. But there is also a lot of room for negotiation and custom packages. The important point to note is that ad reps are an ally.

The important point to note is that ad reps are an ally. 

Have a collaborative conversation with an ad rep to find the best fit. It’s not about wrangling on the price of a banner spot; it’s about working together to achieve your metrics and goals. Ad reps can create custom packages best for your needs, or present entirely new offerings that you hadn’t considered. It’s a consultative sale. Outside of price, they have many “value adds” in the toolbox that can sweeten the deal, including added promotions, discounts, social media shares and more.

Your Takeaways

Getting the hang of media buying can be difficult, especially if you’re new to the science sector. The good news is that once working relationships are formed, your job becomes easier year-after-year. Keep ticking the boxes when it comes to your evaluation criteria, and work with your ad rep to achieve set performance metrics. When you find the perfect fit, it’s a win-win-win for companies, publications and your target audience.

Have questions for an ad rep?

Contact C&EN’s media buy expert here.


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