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Generate Leads Using Display Ads Tailored to Niche Forums

Most digital marketers should be familiar with display advertising on the Google Display Network, if not actively utilizing it as part of their overall digital strategy. The most effective way to use this advertising method is in conjunction with remarketing lists to recapture web visitors or previous converters. One of the least effective ways to utilize display ads is through pure impression based advertising across the entire display network. This often leads to a low click-through rate and, if frequency caps are not utilized, ad fatigue. There is a way, however, to prospect for leads in a meaningful and effective way: serving relevant ads on niche forums that address their direct stated needs.

Finding a Niche Forum

The very first step in this process is finding a place to advertise. One of the best methods to find these places is to first find the most searched for term related to your niche audience. For the sake of this blog, we are looking at people interested in tips related to managing a vacation rental. Use the Google Keyword Tool to find terms related to the niche.

vacation rental management searches

The term vacation rental management had the highest average monthly search volume according to the tool. Combining this term with forum in an online search brings up many potential options. It is recommended that a search is performed in both Google and Bing to maximize the number of potential sites that can be found. Many of the sites that show up may not be appropriate to advertise on due to either lack of activity on the site or the site not being opted into the Google Display Network. Go to the forum to see how frequently threads are submitted and replies are posted, also the way to find if a website supports display ads is to go to the site and look on a subpage. If the site has ads on it and a URL in the bottom left corner that says when it is hovered over, then the site can be advertised on through Adwords.

forum discussion thread ad

Becoming a Resource

For maximum effectiveness of this strategy, we recommend becoming a participant in the forum at a minimum.  For even better results, we recommend attempting to become an active contributor to the forum, which includes answering user questions and potentially even starting discussion threads. The reason for doing this is to put the company brand at the forefront of a user’s mind when they get their questions answered. A minor benefit of becoming a participant is creating threads that directly address the site user’s needs. A major benefit is the ability to control threads which can be used to piggyback off the domain strength to help the thread show up in search engines and drive more relevant potential users to view your thread.

vacation rental management forum search result

By participating meaningfully in these online communities, the users will come to see you and your brand as valuable resources and be top of mind if the need for your service arises. The effect your participation is having on the community can be measured by creating site keyword alerts, so you are notified each time someone discusses your brand’s name. When you are discussed in a way that makes it clear you are seen as a valuable contributor, it is now time to advertise.

Advertising on the Forum

When finally deciding to advertise on the forum, it is important to take the information gained from participating and use it to your advantage. While participating in the forum community, it should have become somewhat easy to find recurring mention of pain points your services would help address, and it is important to tailor your creative accordingly. For example, Bigger Pockets, the forum we have been using for screenshots for this blog has many forum threads related to vacation rental management. In these threads, there is much discussion related to things such as evicting vacation rental tenants, questions about management company percentages, keyless doors, among others. These pain points can be used when crafting what copy is utilized in the ads.

vacation rental search forum


The above image shows several discussion threads going on in Bigger Pockets related to vacation rental management. A client, whose marketing we manage, offers full-service vacation rental management services and has a solution to many of the issues represented above. The key is to present the creative in a way that offers coverage of a variety of issues. So in the screenshot above a long-running, heavily posted-in tread has to do with evicting a vacation rental occupant. It would make sense to create ad copy related to full-service vacation rental management with a heavy emphasis on guest screenings and occupant compliant solutions.

forum thread ad



Structuring the Campaign

For the most effective campaign structure, it makes sense to tailor creative to the needs of each forum you decide to advertise on. Within Adwords, create a display campaign exclusively for this niche prospecting and have an ad group for each niche forum. In each ad group go to the display network tab and select placements as shown below.

Here you will be able to select the website or subpage of a website that you want to display your ad creative on. Having an ad group unique to each placement will help manage bids and review performance at a high level instead of having all ads and placements in the same structure. It is important that all your ads go to a landing page with a conversion mechanism. Creating a custom landing page that addresses all, if not most, of the concerns the niche forums bring up and is consistent with the ads, is key to gaining these conversions.


Niche forum advertising allows an advertiser to become a valued resource by becoming a contributing part of a community. This allows advertisers to have very high engagement due to that prior engagement and pain point relevance. Optimizing copy to address the niche pain points is the key to success for this advertising method.

Tyler McDanel