Commentary

Case Study: Byting Back

Four Traditional Brands Try the Web At a launch party for the IAB "Active Ingredient" campaign last month (pg. 9), Greg Stuart, IAB’s president and CEO, thanked a handful of advertisers who were "generous enough" to provide the association with case studies of their recent campaigns in order to demonstrate how well the Web worked in promoting traditional brands. He also asked for more advertisers to forward and share their success stories. The following four may not have made it into the IAB campaign yet, but they’re proof of online’s success.

RadioShack ‘Neutralizes’ Competition When RadioShack executives stumbled upon a children’s "crazy car" in Asia, they brought the toy to Nickelodeon and quickly hammered out a product placement deal for the movie Jimmy Neutron. It was an integration of the highest level between a retailer and a media buyer, especially considering there are more than 7,000 RadioShack stores in the U.S., one within five minutes of 95% of the entire U.S. population.

The main objective of the campaign was to drive RadioShack’s holiday gift-giving sales by targeting the youth market. To that end, Carat Interactive facilitated and negotiated a multi-platform sweepstakes promotion (Nickelodeon, Nick.com) with the movie release of Jimmy Neutron. The real coup, though, came when RadioShack was awarded an exclusive toy license for the Jimmy Neutron Radio Controlled car that included in-movie product placement and a Radio Shack spot at the head of the movie’s home video release.

The online advertising campaign used premier banner placements and unique ad units to drive traffic to the Jimmy Neutron game on MSN. "The aim was not to reach massive amounts of kids, but those kids that had the greatest propensity for games, and create a brushfire of viral marketing," says Sarah Fay, president of the online advertising agency Carat Interactive.

RadioShack wanted to leverage its portal partnership with MSN Gaming Zone to reach the gaming audience. "Online gaming element was the centerpiece of this campaign," says John Dennie, director of online marketing for RadioShack. "We got more than a million plays during Q4."

In fact, the game generated more than 1 million plays from kids during the critical holiday shopping season and the car sold out in the online store, as did other models featured in the game. In addition, Jimmy Neutron’s car was a top-selling holiday product in offline RadioShack stores.

Florida Citrus’ Best Start When the Florida Department of Citrus (FDOC) decided to educate consumers about the benefits of drinking orange juice, they decided to go online.

Looking to maximize a limited budget, FDOC turned to online advertising to help anchor its marketing launch. Its focus shifted from targeting adults with a health-oriented message to targeting mothers with children ages 3-17. To support this new direction, it adopted a new theme: "Florida orange juice. The best start under the sun."

The agency, Click Here (a division of The Richards Group, Dallas), responded with a creative program consisting of Eyeblaster ad units, which take advantage of the flexibility of DHTML to serve "floating" ad units, and "daughter window" content pages on websites such as iVillage, Better Homes and Gardens, FamilyFun.com, and HealthyKids.com. Eyeblasters provided a fresh, engaging vehicle by which to showcase creative messaging, and the daughter window pages allowed for a user-friendly extension of the brand experience. To reach the targeted audience, Click Here based its media plan on content-relevant sites. "Within these sites, we negotiated high-profile placements and sponsored content in sections geared toward our product," says Pete Lerma, e-marketing director for Click Here. "One of these was an exclusive sponsorship of a new section called the "Healthy Breakfast Guide" on Better Homes and Gardens (BHG.com). The nature of this placement allowed us to present FDOC in a highly relevant forum and reach users where they were likely to be most receptive to our message." In the end, exposure to the Florida Orange Juice campaign led to significant increases in awareness, message association, and purchase intent. Hewlett Packard Targets CIOs One of Hewlett Packard’s most recent business-to-business online advertising campaigns, titled "The CIO Briefcase," targeted IT purchase decision-makers by incorporating in-depth content integration with one publishing partner, numerous rich media executions, and both branding and demand generation elements. The challenge, however, became how to gain the interest of hard-to-reach B-to-B consumers and execute the creative, media, and tracking elements of a highly customized program.

The first objective was to speak to IT analysts to determine what constitutes "a day in the life," to understand that a CIO’s day is chaotic and the infrastructure decisions s/he makes are critical, and to research media usage to verify the Web as a primary information source. The company’s I-agency Modem Media then looked at four areas for a media partner: content strength for credibility, audience strength for reach, ease of development, and media value. "We wanted to make sure we were driving enough online traffic by using partners and specialized opportunities: create custom online events/seminars, sponsor CIO discussion forums, secure audience survey/research," says Sharon Katz, vice president and director of media for Modem Media.

And what did HP learn in the process? (1) Start with a deep understanding of what your customers want; (2) create something unique, not just a retread of site offerings or existing sponsorship; (3) be flexible and ready for constant iteration to get a new idea where it needs to go; and (4) prepare for some hard work and recognize what it really takes to make a complex program work. AT&T Extends mLife Message The online evolution for AT&T Wireless went from a testing period two years ago to a comfort level where the online channel is now the company’s most efficient acquisition tool. "By focusing on the return on investment of each placement we bought on the Web, we were able to aggressively bring the online channel to the forefront of our marketing goals," says Bryan Trullinger, the company’s director of Internet marketing.

Recently, the company took advantage of an opportunity to integrate online and offline advertising by extending the company’s new branding platform (mLife message) with key target audiences and by promoting interaction with the brand through mLife.com.

Phase One included mostly email and banner ads. But Phase Two included prominent rich media ads — on complementary sites such as Ask Jeeves, CBS Sportsline, ESPN, and Weather.com — to reach a broad base of unduplicated Internet users, in addition to more email sign-ups and various links to the attwireless.com site. Campaign results? Online advertising drove 33% of mLife.com traffic (41% during the homepage takeover campaign) with 10% of the overall budget.

"When done correctly, integrated offline and online marketing increased the effectiveness of each," says Trullinger. "Also, we realized online effectiveness depends on high-impact advertising and a well-designed website."

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