In a recent BusinessWeek article, "Grabbing The Grassroots" (BusinessWeek, November 21, 2005), David Kiley profiled Paramount Pictures' use of site targeting to reach a specific and relevant audience for three of their films: Hustle & Flow, Four Brothers and Aeon Flux.

Site targeting allowed Paramount to find many smaller, niche sites with users who they felt would have a particular interest in the films. Kiley describes these as "specialized networks of what are often small online sites and blogs," and notes that such sites "increasingly [soak] up Net surfers' attention," -- which means it's more possible than ever to reach an increasingly fragmented audience.

"With Hustle & Flow, Paramount had the ideal test case for this kind of advertising," Kiley explained. "The film is about an aspiring rap singer, specifically a performer of 'crunk,' 'a Dixie-originated hip-hop genre marked by lurching beats and bellowed choruses. Hustle & Flow was a blowout hit at the 2004 Sundance Film Festival, but Paramount couldn't count on that industry buzz making it to the grass roots of crunk enthusiasts the movie studio wanted to reach."

By plugging terms like 'crunk', 'Memphis', and the names of some of the movie's stars into Google's Site Tool (a tool that automatically returns a list of sites related specific topics or categories), Paramount was able to identify and advertise on 170 different niche sites.

As the Hustle & Flow example demonstrates, when advertisers want to reach the audience that's most receptive to their message, they're interested in targeting not just the big sites, but content-rich smaller sites as well. To make it easier for advertisers to target ads to smaller sites, AdSense has added features like Onsite Advertiser Sign-up.

Thanks to all our publishers in the AdSense network for creating the kind of content that makes this type of targeted-reach possible for those of us on the advertising side.