Most publishers build the website, then tell their sales force to go out and sell ads on it. Mattel Digital Network is taking a different tack, working with Brooklyn-based agency Huge to make sure its sites play nice with advertisers.
Mattel tapped Huge's audience monetization division, formed in August, to make sure its properties support the deep integration and creativity advertisers want.
"The idea is to take the learning and knowledge Huge has from Web design, user experience and digital strategy, and make sure it's applied to advertising sales," says David Shapiro, VP of audience monetization for Huge.
Huge's audience monetization division analyzes sites from the back end to identify the best opportunities for advertiser integration, as well as problem areas. Approaching from the advertiser perspective, the agency will work with them to create brand-specific campaigns.
In addition, Huge has taken over the job of monetizing almost every element on the Mattel family of sites, which receives more than 8.9 million unique visitors a month.
"Advertisers want to be integrated into content, but if you need to break or redesign the site to do that, it becomes cost prohibitive," says Shapiro. "We help you build your site, make it as clean a user experience as possible, monetize it by selling advertising, and facilitate that from first sale all the way through to billing."
The company claims that the new division not only defines how a digital platform should be designed and structured to optimize advertising opportunities, but also delivers the sales strategy and partnerships to best capitalize on the platform.
The Mattel partnership has already led to deals with Disney, Nintendo, General Mills, Scholastic and PBS, for Mattel properties including HotWheels.com and the newly launched MonsterHigh.com. Veering away from the antiquated ad network model, the new outbound advertising aligns key brands with site-specific content.
As an example of what's possible, on Monday, Microsoft will launch its new Kinectimals Xbox game with a version that's fully integrated into a popular Barbie game on Barbie.com.
Based on Huge's recommendations, Mattel had to break the code around the game to integrate Kinectimals, as well as change some of the site infrastructure to make it work.
Huge plans to expand the service to other partners, especially those that need help with both website development and ad sales.
This story has been updated to clarify that Mattel, not Huge, handled site development and recoding.
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Susan Kuchinskas has covered interactive advertising since its invention. The former staff writer for Adweek, Business 2.0, and M-Business covers technology, business and culture from Berkeley, CA.
March 19, 2014