Marketing, Targeted advertising, Databases


Purpose – This paper examines the effectiveness of a targeted email advertising method that informs university students about library resources relevant to their major.

Design/methodology/approach – Over the course of one semester, students with business and communications majors who reserved group study rooms received customized confirmation emails that included targeted advertisements for library databases. These advertisements invited students to click a link that led to a database related to a student's major. Near the end of the semester, students were invited to complete a short survey about the advertisements. Survey questions were designed to discover whether the advertisements were seen and to measure database relevancy. The survey also gathered participant perceptions about the value of this targeted awareness advertising approach.

Findings – Overall, the technique of appending database advertisements to reservation emails proved ineffective; very few students recalled seeing the advertisements or clicking the links. On the positive side, the study showed that very few of the survey respondents disapproved of receiving advertisements. Another positive result was that a majority indicated the selected library databases were relevant to their needs. Respondents also offered suggestions for improving this marketing technique.

Originality/value – This research introduces a novel, unobtrusive approach to advertising library resources to a targeted audience. The results can be used by library administrators as a starting point for experimenting with similar (yet improved) methods of sharing information about relevant library resources with specific user populations.

Original Publication Citation

Rennick, B., Camacho, L. and Spackman, A. (2020), "Targeted awareness: promoting niche resources using confirmation emails", Library Management, Vol. 41 No. 4/5, pp. 183-191.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date


Permanent URL


Library Management




Harold B. Lee Library

University Standing at Time of Publication

Full Professor