Last week, during a marketing analysis session with a client I was asked a question that had bothered me for some time. “How can we tap into the minds of our target audience, when examining and evaluating a new vertical”? He went on, “We have all those highly complex technical tools and systems, but how can we make sense of it all”?

I took a few moments to grasp and promptly replied: “Well, it’s about understanding your target audience, identify their needs, usage and finally map their activity”.
In this post, I’ll attempt to offer some insights on how to analyze a content vertical, and share some of the ideas I got from that session.

When learning a new vertical, the first thing I do is thinking who is the target audience that will enjoy and derive value from this content/service/product.
Once we understand who is our target audience, the next stage would be filling in the blanks and attempt to understand their itinerary and desire:

-Why and how they consume that particular content/service/product?

-What’s their motivation?

-What’s the value it brings?

-What are the alternatives? (Who are the companies that answer the same need, i.e competitors?)


The various analysis and marketing tools are designed to bring in relevant data to confirm or disapprove the claims and analysis raised on the vertical.

We can discover many of the things I’ve just asked using existing services and essentially get a quick glance through 3 major arenas:

Search, Social, and Advertising.

Yes, Search, Social, and Advertising. You see, these three offer a broad view of the vertical, they complement each other and lets us fill the blanks. Together, they provide us with a sort of a 360-degree landscape of the vertical.


How to analyze a content vertical Social_search_advertising

Photo credit: Patrick J. Lynch, medical illustrator



Search based insights, enable one to get a glimpse into people’s intentions and inner thoughts. As a way to complement the other arenas, search based insights are generally divided into either Organic and Paid.

Paid search advertising enables us to see the most competitive and “hot” search terms brands and advertisers are bidding on. While organic tools like Google’s own Trends, Similar Web and others tells us the search volume as well as specific queries and keywords a given website or content vertical had received.

More figures include the amount of traffic received by a search for a specific domain, similar keywords to target, estimated SEO budgets, top competitors based on organic/paid search keywords and more.



There’s an abundance of tools to analyze content shared on social networks. In a world, where social networks have become the back channel for chatter and cumulative sentiment, such tools are a must. Knowing which content people have consumed, engaged with and shared in the relevant content vertical is highly valuable. Further analysis, allows us to view who are the actual people who engaged with the content, cluster, and group them on a persona basis.

Extra findings include content distribution and type patterns, i.e what kinds of content pieces resonate with the audience’s vertical? Which social networks are the most successful and valuable for a brand to operate in this vertical? And so on.



In many ways, the missing piece of the puzzle is advertising. Online advertising is traditionally divided to Search advertising and Display advertising. These days newer content-based discovery services like Outbrain and Taboola have emerged and has proven to be valuable for content sites or brands that use content as their primary marketing strategy. When analyzing the advertising patterns of the vertical, some of the things we notice are: bidding terms, estimated adverts budgets, messaging, destinations and brands operating in this vertical. with advertising analysis, we can complete the picture and get a sense of the number of dollars, as well as interests that are flocking the industry.


Marketing analysis is considered by some as more of an art than a science, with the use of great tools but also lots of instinct and gut feelings. I hope this article provided some key thoughts on the benefit of each of the 3 different arenas as well as my own perspective and point of view on the process. The combination of search, advertising and finally social based insights lets us get a broad perspective of any industry or content vertical. It is deeply valuable for companies when planning their digital marketing strategy or attempts to get a better sense of their industry’s efforts.

Are you running a startup company? Would you like to apply those methods and learn more about your audience? Talk to me.