If you are looking to advertise online the Google AdPlanner is a great research tool. You can find information about individual sites or search for the audience you are looking for. As usual with Google, this is all free. Here is an example of information found when searching by site:
Are they Telling You the Truth?
If you are speaking to a particular site and they tell you how many individuals visit their site as well as the demographics, are they telling you the truth? A couple things can be disclaimed when you are provided the data.
Who is Providing the Data?
They may say the data is based on their logs, or they may say the data is based on a third party, preferrably the data is provided by a third party such as Comscore, Google, Quantcast etc.
Estimate or Exact?
The data can also be exact, such as Google Analytics or Quantcast Quantified which measures audience with code placed on a site. However the data, and I am not saying it is incorrect, may be extrapolated from a sample size if code is not placed. Be sure you know which it is when comparing one site to another. However with tools such as the AdPlanner by Google or Quantcast information you can find the information for yourself. Greatly preferred in my opinion.
Finding an Audience
A very powerful feature of the AdPlanner is the ability to find websites that have the audience you are looking for. You can search by audience and be as broad or narrow as you like. As an example I looked for sites that would provide me with Females in California, ages 45 – 64 with household income of $150,000 or more holding Graduate degrees.
You are first provided with a list (snapshot below) of the sites that meet that criteria. The name of the site is shown, along with statistics such as users, pageviews, and the type of advertisements you can place on that site (Ad Specs).
You can also graph the information. Take a look at this graphical representation. I only chose to graph yahoo.com, facebook.com, about.com and law.com.
A site in the upper left is the largest reach (in this case yahoo.com). The bottom right shows the largest relevance (law.com) and as you move to the top right you will find the best intersection of the two. I only chose to graph yahoo.com, facebook.com, about.com and law.com, therefore only they are labeled in the graph however if you mouse over any other circle you would be provided with the site name. You can see a green dot on the far right which is virginamerica.com, and the red dot with which is in the upper right quandrant is ca.gov.
Why Use AdPlanner?
One reason is that you can verify what sites are telling you once you speak to them. However it is a huge time saver and here is why. You could just start calling websites and obtaining information about their audience and advertising options, looking for the right fit which is akin to the needle in a haystack. Or you could start with a tool like the AdPlanner and find those sites with your audience then contact them. Personally a blend of the two is always good as you never know what type of integration campaigns a particular site can provide until you talk to them however this tool will sure help narrow your search.