Most marketers tend to think of interactive advertising as existing primarily on the Web. In reality, interactive media encompasses everything from online and mobile sites to desktop marketing and countless other digital formats that can serve as a conduit for connecting with consumers.
Those conduits include digital newspapers, sometimes called electronic editions. These replicas of print versions put advertisers in the hands (or at least, on the computer and PDA screens) of smart, savvy consumers daily. They now exist for virtually every major print newspaper in the world.
At the center of this industry is NewspaperDirect, a Vancouver, Canada, based company specializing in multichannel newspaper distribution. Although NewspaperDirect started out dealing exclusively in print, digital distribution of local and international newspapers to consumers, corporations, hotels, and libraries now represents a significant portion of its business.
Historically, the advertising offered by digital papers didn't differ much from print. Many papers still offer advertisers the up-sell opportunity of having the print ad they purchase also appear in its digital version. Keeping with their designation, digital paper ads have evolved over the years to become more interactive. An ad for a real estate company might feature a click-to-call button. An automotive brand's placement might expand to reveal its dealership locations.
The importance of this type of interaction was top of mind for NewspaperDirect when, in October 2007, it launched Adget, a rich-media widget platform that affords advertisers even more options for engaging its captive audience of digital newspaper subscribers. With the tool, local and national advertisers can run sophisticated interactive ads that allow consumers to reserve a table at a restaurant or schedule a new-car test drive.
When an advertiser buys a print ad from a newspaper publisher, he can also opt to purchase a fully interactive Adget ad in the digital version, priced on a CPA (define) basis. The ads can include video and audio files and can be developed to function like the microsites (or nanosites) you might find in an expandable online ad.
According to Igor Smirnoff, NewspaperDirect's director of strategic development, Adget provides a cost-effective way for newspaper advertisers to launch a conversation with their target audience. "Advertisers don't need to compete on Google for a position. They don't even have to have their own Web site. You get your local audience, and you get an additional feature your customers can interact with."
While this is all well and good, Adget has something else going for it that should really pique interactive marketers' interest: an inside track to boosting ROI (define). Because consumers must sign up (and log in) to view the digital version of their favorite newspapers, NewspaperDirect's Adget technology can prepopulate form fields to simplify the process of interacting with an ad. A consumer interested in requesting a catalog from a local furniture store through an Adget ad need only click; the request form will already contain the information attached to her subscription profile.
Also prompting consumers to interact is the fact Adget ads don't require them to leave the digital paper they came to read for a brand site or subdirectory online form. Like so many rich media online ads, the action unfolds completely within the confines of the unit.
"It's about people spending time with ads that aren't intrusive and that are of interest to them," Smirnoff says. For Adget advertisers, it's about purchasing cost-effective interactive placements that are more likely to incite a response.
Interactive media comes in varied forms, as do its ads. It's nice to find a new media-buying opportunity that's actually as interactive as the nomenclature suggests.
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Tessa Wegert is an interactive media strategist with Enlighten, one of the first full-service digital marketing strategy and services agencies, serving such brands as Bioré, Bratz, Food Network, illy, Hunter Douglas, Jergens, and Olympic Paints and Stains. An industry veteran, Tessa has worked in online media buying and planning, marketing, and online copywriting since 1999. She is an active freelance writer specializing in interactive marketing who has contributed to U.S. and Canadian publications, including "USA Weekend Magazine," "Marketing Magazine," "The Globe and Mail," and "The Montreal Gazette." She is frequently quoted as an industry expert and speaks regularly at industry conferences and events.
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