Tag Archives | Expensive

Samsung Sponsors NOTCOT With More Than Just A Banner

NOTCOT Netbook Resource Center

Samsung’s NOTCOT sponsorship is a great example of how a company can go beyond the banner to integrate itself into the uniqueness of a blog and speak directly to that blog’s audience through custom content. It also shows how the continued transition of ad dollars from traditional media into online media will fund new opportunities for advertisers to reach their online audience in new ways as blogs capitalize on the customizability of their medium.

NOTCOT Theme Integration

The Samsung Go sponsorship includes a special section in NOTCOT called the Netbook Resource Center, which covers netbook news and accessories (they call it ‘fresh mobile lifestyle content’) and lives inside of a branded wrapper featuring images of the Samsung netbook done in the traditional NOTCOT style. There’s also a traditional banner that leads each post, and a rich media banner at the end of each post that’s co-sponsored by CNET, and lets readers see reviews, change color options, view the netbook from different angles, and compare prices.

Samsung Rich Media Banner

(Tip for Samsung: If you’re going to feature the CNET Editor Rating in your banner, make sure you actually give CNET a netbook to rate.) Lastly, posts written ‘out in the wild’ on the Samsung netbook receive a special banner style tag that’s appended to the lead image.

Samsung Wild Banner Tag

The result is an integration that lets the blogger keep control over the content, allowing her to continue to make the content that created her audience in the first place, while Samsung can wrap it in advertising that goes well beyond the traditional banner and works to become a part of the overall experience.

While the POPURLS sponsorship allowed UPS to brand business news without paying any writers for the privilege, the NOTCOT sponsorship is on the opposite end of the spectrum, and allows Samsung to speak directly to their target audience by paying a writer to create an entire section of specialized content dedicated to related news. The end result is that Samsung has more control over the message, though that control must be balanced with the idea that blog writers know what will resonate with their readers, and should usually just be left alone with a minimal amount of guidance.

Uncrate TrendHunter Sponsorship

In addition to NOTCOT, Samsung also sponsored Uncrate and TrendHunter, which highlights another interesting aspect of this campaign: The difference in integration between the three. While NOTCOT created an entire section dedicated to netbook posts, and redesigned the blog’s theme to includes the Samsung Go, Uncrate and TrendHunter have just appended the leading and trailing banners to their netbook posts and placed the content aggregating banner into the sidebar, giving their sponsorships a much more traditional feel. As blogs continue to evolve and take over the role that traditional media used to serve in the consumer’s consumption of media however, I expect more sites to go the route that NOTCOT has pioneered, offering advertisers a much more customizable and comprehensive option for integrating a brand and its products into the overall experience.

While this was obviously a one-off campaign that required a lot of planning and integration, it’s not hard to imagine how blogs and advertisers can use this as an example of how to think outside the banner and reach their intended audience without feeling like the brand is being forced upon them. However, the key will be to avoid sponsorships that feel like the blogger was bought and paid for, and work to create sponsorships that feel like a natural extension of the content that the sponsored blog would cover anyways.

The Good:

  • Sponsorship highlights the brand in a natural, non-intrusive way that’s specific to the blog being sponsored.
  • Innovative placements cut through a viewer’s ad blindness.
  • Content doesn’t feel forced, and integration is a natural extension of the blog’s typical subject matter.

The Bad:

  • Expensive one-off requires a lot of planning and setup, and would be difficult to roll out on a large scale.
  • Consumers are wary of sponsored content, which can affect their opinion of any review.

The Future:

  • Brands work closely with blogs to integrate themselves into the experience, going beyond just a banner ad or sponsored post, and becoming a much larger part of the new digital media.

NOTCOT Netbook Resource Center

Amnesty International Uses Eyeball-Aware Ad To Enhance Message

Amnesty International Eyeball Aware Ad

Amnesty International’s bus stop ad is a great example of how interactivity and eyeball-aware ads can be used to engage viewers and add another level of meaning to the overall message. The ad is for a campaign that aims to bring awareness to the problem of domestic violence, and uses a small camera to detect faces. When no one is looking, the screen shows a man abusing his wife. When the camera detects a face, the ad waits a few seconds for the message to sink in, and then the couple stops fighting and does their best to look normal. It’s a subtle message, but definitely drives home their tagline, “It Happens When Nobody Is Watching.”

It’s easy to see why an ad like this would be effective. Usually, when a viewer looks at an ad, they may only see the message for a few moments before looking away. However, with an interactive ad that responds to the viewer’s gaze, they’re more likely to look longer to see what will happen. Thus, views last longer, and the message has more time to sink in. (It’s important to note that video ads for the sake of movement is not what we’re talking about here. The movement needs to be a part of the message to really be effective at enhancing the overall ad.)

Taking the concept a step further, imagine an ad that ‘talks’ to the viewer. Since the technology gives ads self-awareness, a donut shop could create an ad that says good morning to anyone that walks by, or a clothing store could create an ad that compliments (or mocks!) outfits in the crowd. The technology would also allow advertisers to incorporate a video that starts only when someone is looking, rather than playing over and over again on a constant loop.

In addition to enhancing the message, an outdoor ad that’s aware of when people are looking at it ushers in a whole new level of measurement, as view numbers no longer need to be rough estimations of foot traffic and awareness. Instead, each ad can be bought and sold based on accurate view numbers and actual engagement, giving advertisers proof that they’re getting what they’re paying for, and allowing media companies to price their high profile ad placements with the premium they deserve.

Like any new ad format, eyeball-aware ads are in their creative infancy, and I would expect to see many more uses emerge as advertisers start to understand and explore the technology, but as an effective and engaging means of enhancing a message, this is definitely one format to keep an eye on.

The Good:

  • Uses eyeball-awareness to enhance the message and engage the viewer.
  • Allows for advanced measurement techniques that take into account actual engagement.

The Bad:

  • Expensive technology makes ads difficult to scale.

The Future:

  • Ads that are viewer-aware allow advertisers to create more interactive messages and engage the viewer in new and unique ways, while better matching cost to value.

Carl’s Jr. Uses YouTube Stars For Online Video Success

Carl's Jr. Portobello Mushroom Six Dollar Burger

One of my advertising rules of thumb is this: Content that works well online is not the same as content that works well on television.

To see why, let’s look at Carl’s Jr.’s latest ad campaign for their Portobello Mushroom Six Dollar Burger.

First, their television commercial:

Next, one of the videos created for their online campaign:

See the difference?

While their heavily produced, perfectly scripted, hero-shot filled 30-second commercial managed to acquire more than a quarter million views in under a week, less than 200 people rated the video during that time, and less than 500 commented on it, indicating that a very low percentage of those quarter million viewers were actually engaged by the video. (Plus, their previous videos have around a thousand views or less, so I’m guessing most of the Portobello Mushroom Six Dollar Burger’s quarter million views were bought and paid for though an ad buy.) By contrast, the second video, created by one of YouTube’s top users named NigaHiga, acquired more than a million views in under a week, nearly 20,000 ratings, and more than 16,000 commentst, indicating a HUGE amount of engagement.

So what did Carl’s Jr. do right?

  1. Create original content – Instead of trying to push existing assets online with banner ads and video buys, a smart company will reach out to prominent users and elicit their help with creating original content that will appeal to that user’s existing fanbase. The resulting videos might not have the highest production quality, or may stray from the strict brand guidelines from time to time, but they will be done in a style that the online community has come to expect, and will be an open and honest interpretation of the product by the creator, rather than the company speaking through a hired personality.
  2. Involve the viewer – If online content is good, viewers will often want to emulate the campaign with creative of their own, so smart companies will encourage that response and find ways of compensating users that go above and beyond to engage with the brand by creating videos of their own. In this case, each sponsored video ended with a call out by the star to the viewers to encourage them to make their own ‘How do you eat yours?’ video. As a result, while most pure UGC campaigns require a huge prize or some other promise of fame and fortune to get a response, this campaign is fueled by viewers’ desire to relate to the personality behind the video, and the compensation is the fact that the star might actually see the video response. A UGC video response campaign also doesn’t have to cost a lot when using YouTube, since the site’s built-in video response feature and viral sharing tools mean the backend is already in place for a campaign with little to no effort required from the sponsor company.
  3. Use the toolsYouTube provides built-in tools for creating and spreading a message, and smart companies will make sure any online video campaign uses them to the fullest. For one, each video should be embeddable. It sounds obvious, but there is still the occasional video that gets put online by a company that can’t be embedded into other sites, and it’s just a waste of potential free media. Second, smart companies will establish a way for viewers to integrate their own content quickly and easily into the overall campaign. Whether it’s posting video responses to campaign videos or tagging their own videos with a specific keyword, giving users the ability to contribute will do a lot to increase the viral spread of a campaign idea. Lastly, tools like the ‘Favorites’ area of a brand’s channel and Flash video viewers allow a company to separate videos into unique campaigns and make it easy to do a lot with a little.
  4. Start from the top – If the budget is big enough, there’s a lot of value in going after the biggest online stars you can find and afford. In this case, Carl’s Jr. got a few of the top 10 most subscribed to YouTube stars to create a video, and the results speak for themselves: After less than a week, each video had an average of 250,000 views, with some receiving more than a million. It might be tempting to save a few bucks by going after the up and coming stars, but there’s a reason certain content producers have so many subscribers, and that’s usually because they consistently make quality videos that others want to watch.
  5. Give creative freedomToo often, companies get online stars involved in their campaigns and then limit what they can say and do, or try too hard to keep them on brand. The main problem with this is that viewers can usually tell when a message is heavily controlled, and views, pass-along and overall engagement will decrease dramatically as a result. Second, the popular YouTube users are popular for a reason, and they will know what their fans want and what works best, so why try to reinvent the wheel? By giving the content creators more creative control, the videos will be more original and more unique, the views will be higher, and the costs associated with trying to control the message will be much, much lower.

As far as online video campaigns go, the Carl’s Jr. Portobello Mushroom Six Dollar Burger campaign was a complete success. They got a number of top users to create content, that content has generated a high amount of engagement, and viewer response has been very positive overall. Sure, it’s not the flashiest campaign, and it’s definitely not the most expensive, but when the results can speak for themselves, who can doubt the power of a well-run online video campaign?

The Good:

  • Uses existing cewebrities to tap into existing communities and create content that is specifically targeted to the online audience.
  • Engages the viewer and encourages participation.
  • Uses existing YouTube tools to their fullest, which extends the campaign while keeping costs down.
  • Offers an online only coupon to try out the product, giving viewers an exclusive offer and connecting the campaign to actual sales.

The Bad:

  • Some of the videos are a bit on the quirky side, and may catch unaware viewers and those that aren’t used to web content by surprise.

The Future:

  • Brands use existing online personalities to give their campaigns life and guarantee initial success.

YouTube – Carl’s Jr.