Just An Online Minute... Hyundai's Buyout On Slate

Slate.com scored an exclusive ad buyout on Thursday when Hyundai bought the site for 24 hours. The unique ad buy, executed by Carat Fusion, gave the automaker a special home page treatment on Slate.com and enabled it to take over all standard ad units for a 24-hour period. The creative elements used in the ad units and home page takeover were designed by interactive agency Click Here, part of The Richards Group.

Hyundai received a special dissolving home page treatment on Slate, as well as presence on all big box, skyscraper, and leaderboard ad units. The buy also included targeted positions on Newsweek.com, Slate's Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive sibling. We know that WPNI is eager to get advertisers excited about all the brands in its portfolio--Washingtonpost.com, Newsweek.com, Budget Travel, and MSNBC.com.

The ad buy was designed to give Slate readers an opportunity to experience Hyundai's Azera sedan, according to Robert Tucker, associate media director at Carat Fusion's Los Angeles office, which created the media strategy. "Partnering with a well-respected online brand like Slate in an impactful way reinforces the brand position of 'a Hyundai like you've never seen before,'" Tucker said in a statement. The carmaker's ad buy signifies Hyundai's bid to move upscale as Slate attracts affluent and educated influencers. Slate.com is attracting more than 5 million unique visitors each month, according to Nielsen/NetRatings.

"We're delighted to be working with Hyundai and Carat Fusion on this media strategy to deliver highly engaging exposure on our site," said Cliff Sloan, Slate's publisher, in a statement. "This is the first time we've worked with an auto brand on an integrated site buyout, and have only done a total buyout campaign for advertisers on two other occasions."

Slate's deal with Hyundai isn't the first--we have begun seeing more of these kinds of 24-hour ad buys, roadblocks, speedbumps, and so forth. But the move does show a creative media strategy and a willingness to take chances on the part of the marketer. We like it. Engaging imagery that's not disruptive and that uses the medium creatively is a good thing. Single-sponsor buys seem less disruptive to us. They just do.

Meanwhile, a new eMarketer study estimates that automakers will nearly double their online ad spending over the next two years. The study projects online ad spending in the auto category to rise to $2.7 billion in 2007, up from $1.4 billion last year.

And finally, on this morning after the ladies skated their long programs, we are just a wee bit disappointed for Sasha Cohen and feel nothing but empathy for Irina Slutskaya, who is normally such a strong, grand skater. The ladies were off their game and so the lovely Shizuka Arakawa of Japan is the new gold ice princess. And you know what, we felt all the passion of the moment last night, even though we'd heard the results hours before the broadcast.

Ah.

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