Commentary

One Winning Way To Restore Advertising's Broken Value Exchange

When ad experiences become overwhelming for users and marketers can’t be sure their branding is appearing alongside quality content, the traditional advertising value exchange breaks down. Fortunately for advertisers, there are other models that maintain and even elevate the advertiser-consumer relationship. Consider the sweepstakes.

Yes, the sweepstakes. Stay with me here.

Granted, the traditional chance-to-win promotion may remind you more of our company’s oversized checks than it does of digital ad formats and marketing strategies. But if you dig a bit deeper into the notion of the consumer value exchange, and what it really means for the relationship between brands, publishers, and their customers, the dynamics of the sweepstakes appear in striking new light.  

While certainly not a new concept, free chance-to-win games represent a powerful vehicle for connecting brands to consumers in a transparent, balanced way. Given that exciting chance to win a prize, consumers have a clear incentive to provide accurate information and engage deeply with a publisher’s content.

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In this age of increasing media fragmentation and consumer-brand disconnect, it’s no wonder brands like AutoZone, Coca-Cola, Williams Sonoma, PayPal and others are turning to online sweepstakes to connect with audiences in meaningful ways.

Sweepstakes strengthen the brand-to-consumer relationship by entertaining people while informing them about the company's products and by giving customers a benefit for interacting with the company in the form of cash and prizes. For example, Ford recently took fan adoration to a new level with its Toughest Ticket Sweepstakes, in which consumers entered to win a Ford F-150 and a trip to SuperBowl LII, a prize that was achievable only after engaging with Ford content.

Beyond engagement, free chance-to-win games also offer advantages from a data collection and data accuracy standpoint. When people sign up or agree to participate, it initiates a fair and transparent value exchange of names, contact information and answers to other research questions. This information can be indispensable to brands for future marketing efforts, and consumers will not question the way in which the brand obtained the data. And it’s always in the consumer’s interest to ensure that the check arrives at the right address, if and when they win.

Another strong example is Fandango recently ran a sweepstakes in which consumers could sign up for a chance to win a trip to the filming location of "Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom" in Hawaii. The contest smartly included a strong brand tie-in  — a movie promotion — that was highly desirable and memorable. Plus, those who signed up were likely to be individuals who would be attracted to future movie-related promotions from the brand as well.

In today’s era of traditional advertising aversion and brand-safety concerns, free chance-to-win experiences offer a transparent and welcome mechanism for direct brand-consumer interactions. For marketers looking to restore a balanced value exchange with consumers, giving people a chance to earn exciting on-brand rewards and prizes can be a true win-win for everyone involved.

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