Current Issue Summary
Sept 2020 (Vol. 60, Issue 3):
The Myth of Targeting Small, but Loyal Niche Audiences: Double-Jeopardy Effects in Digital-Media Consumption
As consumers enjoy unlimited choices in the digital marketplace, advertisers often turn away from websites with mass appeal toward niche outlets. But research by Harsh Taneja (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign) provides strong evidence that the belief that small, niche markets are loyal and should be the focus of media efforts—can be ill-fated, diminishing the potential for reach.
The premise favoring small, loyal niche audiences aligns with long-tail theory—that “given unlimited consumer choice, the market share of niche products thus should increase, as demand for ‘hits’ or popular products, diminishes,” the author wrote. But it also refutes the law of double jeopardy, where with few exceptions, brands with lower market share have far fewer buyers, who are also less loyal than buyers of popular products (McPhee, 1963).
In that context, Taneja analyzed double-jeopardy effects in digital media usage. Using monthly data from comScore Media Metrix, the study examined associations between users and usage of the 2,000 most popular websites in the U.S. between January 1, 2014 and December 31, 2014 on PCs and laptops. The analysis was supplemented with multiplatform data, including both mobile and desktop access, for one month in 2018.
“Double-jeopardy effects were much stronger in the head rather than the tail, or in other words, stronger among popular” websites, Taneja concluded.
Among the takeaways:
- “The theory of double jeopardy … predicts that small audiences are generally disloyal and proposes that to grow engagement, brands need to grow their reach.”
- For media planners, advertising on popular websites “should enable advertisers not only to build reach but also to achieve frequency….Unless campaigns aim for an exceptionally high frequency, niche websites are not recommended.”
- For media brands (website owners trying to grow their audiences or attract advertisers), “it is imperative to direct one’s marketing effort at growing reach if one has to grow loyalty, both in terms of behavior (i.e., repeat visitors) and in terms of attitudes.”
- For advertisers, “even in digital media the overall popularity of the outlet measured by reach, and therefore exposure-based metrics, will remain important currencies in evaluating the advertising worth of media properties.”