Exclusive content placements on your site create additional channels through which to connect with consumers.
Those who watched the recent season opener of Bravo TV's reality series "Top Chef" were in for a surprise. Just when it seemed as though the judges had selected all of the new contestants, host Tom Colicchio announced a loophole: one of the eliminated chefs would have a chance to battle his way back into the game in a series of cooking challenges…that would air only on the web.
The "Last Chance Kitchen" microsite delivers more than just a second helping of "Top Chef" video content for hungry fans. With it, Bravo TV has created an exclusive advertising opportunity for brands. Toyota Prius V, the site's first advertiser, is currently enjoying complete share of voice through multiple banners and sponsorship logos on the site. The placement is an extension of the automaker's existing partnership with the series, which in the past has included product placements and giveaways.
Increasingly, cross-media publishers are shirking the standard online placements in favor of content that's exclusive to their sites. Besides their potential to generate greater ad revenue (this type of content lends itself well to customization), these placements create additional channels through which to connect with consumers. Brands can still secure a spot alongside their competitors on TV or in a print magazine, but they're also presented with a chance to gain the additional exposure that could push their products over the top.
In fact, studies suggest that consumers may put a higher value on content they know can only be viewed on the web. In one survey published last year, 54 percent of consumers said they've watched web-original videos and consider them to be as entertaining (if not more so) as traditional TV. Sixty percent watch web-only content weekly, and consumers are two and a half times more likely to be "fully engaged" in online video than those who watch TV offline.
Where do you find this kind of content? Here are a few places to start.
Web-Only Video Series
If you're interested in strengthening your brand's connection with consumers while familiarizing them with your products, a web-only video series may be the solution you seek. Television heavyweights like Food Network have been exploring this arena for years, posting weekly episodes of web-only programming that ranges from three to five minutes apiece. So, too, have publishers like AOL, Yahoo, and MSN.
MSN's "Beauty BFF" site, for example, is a rich source of video content that has attracted such advertisers as Walmart, Nissan, Citi, and Swiffer. The site is part of the Beauty & Fashion section of MSN Lifestyle and features beauty expert Jenn Falik, who has been dishing out beauty tips and product information since last year's launch. Pre-roll video ads accompany the video clips.
Consumers continue to obsess about celebrity lifestyle, so where better to connect with them than on a celebrity-oriented site? On "Heidi Klum on AOL" - a lifestyle channel that deals with fashion and beauty, parenting, holidays, and more - the model and TV host gets and gives exclusive online-only tips from various experts while creating advertising opportunities for all manner of products. Brands can purchase pre-roll ads that precede videos of Klum chatting with her stylist about the latest trends, or of the site's experts themselves. Here, too, Toyota Prius V is getting exposure with a holiday channel sponsorship and related display banners.
Yahoo's "The Thread" Star Styles & Celebrity Trends channel provides a similar service to advertisers with a combination of videos and online-only articles. Sponsors can secure display banner placements along with in-video exposure and additional links; with an integrated link box, current partner Herbal Essences is directing site visitors to a gallery of its hair care products, its Facebook page, and an online store.
If you aren't able to find existing content that strikes your fancy, don't overlook the possibility of approaching a site with an idea of your own. Now more than ever publishers are willing to push past boundaries for their advertising partners - particularly if the final product is informative, entertaining, and only on the web.
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Tessa Wegert is a business reporter and former media strategist specializing in digital. In addition to writing for ClickZ since 2002, she has contributed to such publications as USA Today, Marketing Magazine, Mashable, and The Globe and Mail. Tessa manages marketing and communications for Enlighten, one of the first full-service digital marketing strategy agencies servicing such brands as Bioré, Food Network, illy, and Hunter Douglas. She has been working in online media since 1999.
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