Sprint Drags Palm Pre Social Across MSN, YouTube, Facebook

Sprint Palm Pre commercial Sprint this week will unveil pieces of Palm Pre's ad campaign that collide real with virtual social worlds. The launch takes place on Google's YouTube Wednesday, according to Sprint's Candice Wolken, and on Microsoft's MSN properties Friday.

Palm Pre brings Sprint's "now network" from the carrier's Now Network Campaign into the device. Wolken, who is online marketing manager at Sprint, says it ties into the carrier's ideology of real-time information delivered by features in the physical world. The phone runs on the new Palm webOS operating system, which allows consumers to open and update multiple applications simultaneously.

The Pre's "universal" search feature let you simultaneously look for information stored on the phone, as well as through a Web browser across the Internet. Another feature searches and consolidates one view of multiple calendars, such as Google or Microsoft Outlook for business and Facebook to keep tabs on social events.

Sprint expects that the one-day takeover on MSN properties -- about 13 sites within the network -- will reach a total of 185,375,000 impressions. The ad will appear on sites from Hotmail to MSNBC and Fox Sports.

Bring up MSN.com and the Palm Pre spins across the screen, landing in a box on the right side of the home page. Click on the ad to expand the unit. The ad consumes the top part of the page. From there you can interact with the phone to read about features, such as Palm webOS, Linked Contacts and Layered Calendar, or watch the Facebook TV commercial in which IO Echo coos: "You got right under my skin."

The television advertisement highlighting Facebook ties into the campaign running on the social network site that began Thursday. The campaign also lets you gift a virtual Palm Pre to a friend, which shows up in live Facebook conversation feeds. It's also the first time that Facebook has allowed one advertiser to dominate the first five ad impressions for every user.

The Facebook ads keep with the style of the social network site, according to Rob Smith, an associate partner running the Sprint account at Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, which worked with the media agency Mindshare to develop concepts for Facebook and MSN.

The MSN ad aims to visually convey the way Palm's new Web-based OS grabs and pulls information into one central place in real time. "We typically see huge spikes in home-page takeovers," Smith says. "They represent Super Bowl ads of the Web. We typically see a spike in both brand interaction and click-through of traffic to the site, about 5 times as much compared with normal rich media placement."

Goodby, Silverstein & Partners will also monitor interaction with the ad through searches and clicks. They will look at time spent in the ad, brand interaction, click through to the site, where people go after spending time with the ad, and whether they make a purchase.

Colors in the ads are lighter and cleaner, Smith says, adding: "We've also been judicious with the use of yellow. It's a great color and helps to brand Sprint, but when you use the roller brush effect it becomes too glaring on the Web. Using it properly lets you tie the page together."

Sprint will use a paid search campaign on Microsoft and Google properties through platforms such as adCenter and AdWords, respectively, for direct-response marketing and to create awareness. Wolken declined to provide details, but says the words focus on objectives that span from raising awareness to closing the sale.

Matt Carr, general manager overseeing Microsoft's MSN display business group, says the "interactive skin" lets the consumer explore the product in the ad. They never leave the page. It's the type of ad Microsoft plans to do more often, he says.

Palm got a boost this week after unveiling the Pre and announcing that former Apple executive Jon Rubinstein would step in as CEO. The company has been the mobile smartphone underdog for years, trailing eons behind Research In Motion's BlackBerry and Apple's iPhone.

Sprint Pre ad campaign home page takeovers and roadblocks include a Google YouTube ad scheduled to run Monday. CNet, Yahoo, USA Today and AOL also will run custom expandable units. Other sites will run roadblocks of rich media ads.

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