The power of content plus ads
Posted: April 18, 2012 | 9:02 ET by Tessa Wegert
The opportunity for brands to advertise in association with relevant editorial content has long existed both online and off. Contextual advertising, as it's known on the Web, is a popular strategy because it helps advertisers reach consumers when they're in the right frame of mind to consider your products. A banner promoting mascara embedded in an online article about eye makeup? That's a natural fit.
Now more than ever publishers are working this angle to create opportunities for brands to promote themselves in relevant ways. They're partnering with products they know appeal to their target audience and squeezing these into their content. A new campaign for Oprah's OWN Network series Sweetie Pie's, for example, is promoted with an article on Oprah's Website but also an adjacent banner ad in the opt-in e-mail highlighting the show. The banner adds impact to the editorial placement, and vice versa. More often than not the result is increased consumer recall – digital ad gold that can translate into increased intent to engage.
If you're going to take advantage of this kind of advertising, here are a few things to keep in mind:
1. Use your banner to provide additional information that may not be available in the editorial piece. If an editorial piece provides an overview of your product, use your banner to point them to store locators. If the piece includes store locator information, dedicate your banner space to consumer reviews.
2. Ensure that your ad is consistent with your editorial feature. No doubt you have many product images and copy lines to choose from, but choosing those most similar to what's included in the publisher's article will increase the odds that consumers will remember what they've read and seen.
3. Own up to your marketing strategy by being "transparent." Some advertorials still try to pretend that they're completely objective. Consumers are too smart to fall for this ruse. Regardless of publisher policy, insist on full disclosure in the form of a "sponsored article" button on the page. Site users are more likely to embrace your efforts to promote your product if they know you're being honest about your methods.
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Tessa Wegert is a veteran media strategist with a background in media planning and buying, content development, ad copywriting, and campaign management. As a prominent industry writer she has been covering digital marketing and technology for leading newspapers and trade publications for over a decade. Connect with her on Twitter (@tessawegert) and LinkedIn.