About.com Ad Campaign: Users ‘Need To Know’ It’s Not Another ‘How To’ Site

With the emergence of freelance aggregation sites like Demand Media and Associated Content crowding out the “how-to” space, About.com has unveiled a new ad campaign site theme aimed at making it clear to advertisers and consumers that there is a difference in what its professional guides offer.

While there is a consumer component to the About.com campaign, which runs through the end of the year, the main target of the messages is advertisers, said Evan Minskoff, About Group’s VP of Marketing, in an interview with paidContent. He was clear in saying that the New York Times Co. (NYSE: NYT) unit doesn’t feel threatened by the rise of “content farms,” and that the campaign is needed to update marketers at a time when the site feels it has a reason to celebrate.

“Usually, companies take to advertising when they need to address something negative, but for us, we think we can capitalize on things going well,” Minskoff said. The most recent NYTCo earnings report from April showed the About Group with 30 percent ad growth, a major turnaround from the previous year as the family of sites were impacted by the recession. With ad spending for cost-per-click and display both seeing healthy trends, About should find its revenues once again up by double digits.

About also believes it has good news for its advertisers. The campaign is meant to highlight the “intent-driven” quality of About’s users. In other words, since much of the site’s traffic comes from search, advertisers can more easily capitalize on what users are looking for by matching About’s content with closely aligned ads. Along with the campaign, About also has a new tagline: “Need. Know. Accomplish.”

The campaign comes to life through advertising executions that present a series of moments in which a family of characters personify the range of needs that an About.com user encounters each day. Some of these needs are featured in over 30 individual creative concepts, ranging from