To promote "Three Rivers," the new medical drama from CBS that debuted Oct. 4, the network is sponsoring a page on SocialVibe.com and will donate a portion of its ad spend to charity. The highlighted cause is organ donation, which is the show's central theme.
Another marketer, Henkel Corp., is pushing its Dial Body Wash soap via ads at Gamesthatgive.net, a new casual gaming site that donates 70 percent of ad revenue to charity. Donations are based on time spent with the game, and by extension with the brand, and the companies say Dial has racked up plenty of engagement.
SocialVibe and GamesThatGive are examples of sites that promote cause marketing for advertisers while giving users the opportunity to donate to charities without spending their own money. Donations are generated through simple use of the sites.
As part of a campaign created by agency OMD, CBS's page on SocialVibe asks users to name the best gift they ever received as part of a tie-in with the cause of organ donation. Respondents are awarded points that generate donations. They post their answers on their social media pages, and additional donations kick in every time a friend visits and answers the same question.
The effort launched Sept. 17 and ran through Oct. 15. Users spent an average of a minute and a half engaging with the page and left 1,000 comments per day on their own social media pages, according to Brennan Beyer, SocialVibe's VP of sales. Beyer said the goal of CBS and other advertisers is to "create something that users want to share in their social networks."
Liz Ronan, CBS's VP of alternative marketing, said the campaign met the company's expectations for viral activity, based on the number of engagements, comments, and sharing actions.
"The contributions to charity got us excited about doing the promotion," she said. "It supports the charitable organizations as well as the show."
Gaming for Charity
When users play casual games at GamesThatGive, brand icons appear in the background of titles such as Solitaire and Soduku, and in a message bar above them. When users click the icons, they are taken to the advertiser's site.
For Dial, GamesThatGive says it has served over two million impressions in its first three months. Ryan Gaspar, brand manager for Dial Body Wash, said the site is the first third party gaming property Dial has bought ads from. He said he's pleased with the impression volume and click-through rate.
"It's a good way to get our messaging out in a cause related way," he said.
Adam Archer, CEO and founder of Gamesthatgive, has lined up several big name charities, including the American Heart Association, United Way and Feeding America. Then he found advertisers, including Domino's Pizza, Starbucks Frappuccino, Pepsi and Quaker. "Advertisers like it for a number of reasons," he said. "They know gaming is huge, they're interested in new media and they support cause marketing."
EMarketer analyst Paul Verna noted much of the content posted to Twitter and the other social media sites lacks permanence. "These executions are turning it into something more enduring," he said. "The charity angle has a feel good aspect, so it becomes beneficial."
Correction: An earlier version of this story misattributed a quote from Brennan Beyer, SocialVibe's VP of sales, to another executive, VP of business development David Levy.
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March 19, 2014