Archive for May, 2009

Advertising for the Warp Level Generation

How many banner ads, tinyurl posted links, email blasts photos have you clicked on today…or over your lifetime?

It’s no secret that younger online users are pretty quick to sniff out online marketing in disguise. Games, quizzes, online polls all designed to peak your interest long enough to advertise the next great mortgage package from Obama, get rich quick with google opportunities, or buy a politically incorrect t-shirt.

My latest favorite has to be “see if your IQ is higher than your friends / see who thinks your [always misspelled] dumb.” A fantastic scam aimed at grabbing your email address or cell phone number to inundate your inbox or relentlessly send you text messages.

But just because users are hyper-aware that the information in front of them is advertising doesn’t mean it can’t be effective. Younger online users are very open to learning about new products – especially new products that fit their lifestyle. Younger online users are also pretty open to sharing what they’ve learned about products and events by posting or sending links to friends.

So how can a publisher generate excitement for advertisers with honest transparent online marketing/advertising, while still maintaining enough focus on the content of the publication?

In this continuing series I’ll be critiquing different techniques advertisers are using to capture traffic. The critique will cover the following elements:

Window Dressing – a measure of how obvious the content is advertising.

First Click – a measure of the engagement level established before sending users to an alternate website.

Time to Discovery – a measure of how much time and thought was needed to reach the advertiser’s message.

Publisher’s Comfort – a measure of how comfortable the publisher would be utilizing the advertising method throughout their published content.

Product: Taken –Blu-Ray & DVD
Location: espn.com home page
Delivery Method Banner / Video / Micro Site
Links: http://microsites.craveonline.com/taken/

Window Dressing:
The subject of this banner is clear: it is an advertisement for the release of Taken on Blu-Ray & DVD. Even if a user is interested in seeing the movie, clicking on the banner isn’t necessary to achieve success for the campaign. This technique will be harder for the ad agency and publisher to track, but probably will yield quite a bit of success based on the sheer volume of traffic. Awareness is all the advertiser needs. As a publisher I would want to make sure this ad campaign was not monetized on a per click basis. The focus pretty much stays on the publishers content. Users who visit the site several times a day are more likely to see the ad than a casual browser – based on the number of other eye catching features on the site.

First Click (Wide Banner):
The long wide banner at the top of the page sends the user to a mini site about the movie.
I probably would not have clicked on this banner had I not been intending to do a write up on the campaign. Pretty poor engagement factor.

First Click (Square Banner):
Clicking the square banner, as shown in the posted clip, drops a within espn.com’s main feature box. The video is a trailer for both the NBA finals and Taken on DVD. There isn’t a next step after the video, nor does it take you to the micro site. Again engagement for this banner is low.

Time to Discovery (on site trailer):
Even thought the message is clearly presented in the static box ad, I couldn’t help wonder what was more important the NBA finals or the movie. Call it a moment of confusion.

Time to Discovery (Microsite):
The microsite is decent, however there isn’t a clear buy now aspect, nor is the main goal of the microsite obvious. I signed up for the contest and clicked on a few things, but I left the microsite thinking “in what way am I more influenced to buy the movie on DVD.”

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Do We Have Enough Friends Yet?

A breakdown of how magazines are utilizing social networking to build brand awareness, enhance reader loyalty and maybe earn a dollar or two.

Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, LinkedIn, Orkut, Friendster, etc.

Facebook apparently isn’t killing productivity and you can unblock these websites should your employer feel otherwise. However, the pope doesn’t think it is a good idea and it is making your teenage daughter depressed. So what should magazines do on social networking sites? At Allen Printing and Publishing Inc., we’ve been carefully crafting a plan to interconnect our print magazines, websites, and social pages together. Our official social strategy launch for HORSEpower Magazine should happen later this summer.  In the meantime we’ve been experimenting and examining some of the options these sites can provide.  In this post I’ll take a look at two strategies for publishers to captivate the masses.

Social Pages

HORSEpower's Fan Page

Facebook and MySpace ‘pages’ are the most common first step initiatives for publications. They allow pubs to create a free space where people can proclaim their love for the creator’s magazine. I’ve often been baffled by what real opportunities are here, it certainly is another great place to drop a back link to a corporate website. Discussion boards, wall posts, user photos are all cool, but a quick search of publications that have these free pages shows that very few users post media or text that can hold a reader’s interest.

The real gold of a social page is the collection of fans and friends. When users click ‘become a fan’ or ‘add me as a friend’ the owner of the page is able to send in network emails. It’s a great way to build an email blast list, which can be used to promote an advertiser, generate more subscriptions, or keep in contact with a fan/subscription base. The real questions are: Do in network emails burn out a users patience faster than traditional emails? Are in network blasts more effective than traditional email blasts at generating click through action? Do users read these blasts at a higher rate?

You’ll probably never know until it’s too late. I would recommend a conservative approach until you can measure the enthusiasm levels of your readers.

Follow me if you want to live…Or save big with instant promotions

Twitter PageTwitter users fall into two categories those who get it and those who don’t. Twitter is definitely for establishing a reputation as an expert. Businesses have used it to push coupons and the latest sales items on their e-commerce site, however the followings are usually pretty small. Promotions via twitter need to be big and not every day. A big juicy coupon now and then will help keep you sticky.

If you’re a text driven magazine there is an opportunity to have your writers publish and engage in targeted discussions with back links to your publication, advertisers, and highlights of what your readers are doing. If online community is a top priority for your publication promoting your readers is easily the way to go. I think advertisers will start beating down your doors if your readers are well promoted and engaged via twitter. I imagine twitter engagement as thousands of 140 character testimonials. “yes we read, yes we like, yes we buy!”

Get yourself several thousand followers and you’ve got another opportunity to sell text/link advertising.

I’m not sure if it’s working for the Wall Street Journal, but I’d try following Walt. He does have over 14,000 followers, I’m sure the sales department at WSJ has noticed this.

How are you meeting friends and influencing people online?

I’m curious to hear about other successful strategies for engaging readers for both brand building efforts and creating additional advertising revenue opportunities.
Post your thoughts below.