A Roadmap To Site Branding Strategy

There’s a plethora of web sites launching every millisecond — and an incredible estimated 100,000 ad-supported sites already on the web today. So the challenge of branding a site to break through the pack is even more critical, and exponentially more difficult, than it has ever been.

The scope and growth of the Internet advertising market means that the average interactive media buyer is besieged, 24 hours a day, by sales people vying for attention. And the simple reality is that these buyers will rarely buy ad space on a site unless they, their supervisors, and their clients are intimately familiar with it, or if it doesn’t clearly promise unique value consistent with their needs and challenges. So it’s critical to correctly position your brand and gain visibility fast.

Add to that the challenge of positioning a site which defines a new category of web sites, and you’ll have a sense of the task that confronted Stein Rogan + Partners, the agency for FasTV.com.

Scheduled for launch on March 1, FasTV.com is a new web site that aggregates video from major news, business and financial, sports, entertainment, and lifestyle sources, as well as enables the user to keyword search video on demand. Its short history thus far offers a roadmap to a successful branding strategy.

Defines and Hypes

As the creators of FasTV.com started developing the prototype for the site, Stein Rogan conducted focus groups with media buyers to understand the viability of a searchable video site to the advertising community. Focus groups have become a critical first step for Internet publishers today, since there are hundreds of sites that may be a hit in terms of the number of users, but in reality are a bomb with advertisers. In fact, these are the sites that will quickly fall by the wayside as we move into the consolidation phase of the web’s development, an era that is rapidly approaching.

During these early focus groups, Stein Rogan found that media buyers felt the site was personally relevant — something that is critically important if they are ever to buy advertising on it.

Several features that would be important to media buyers popped out of the focus group sessions: The freedom to view what they want, when they want it; the ability to stay connected to what matters; and the ability to access only the information they wanted.

In developing the trade campaign, Stein Rogan arrived at a strategy with a two-tiered message.

First, the creative should communicate the unique advantage both of a site that has the sound and motion of video, and that allows the user to be the editor of his or her own video web channel.

Advantages and Uniqueness To Advertisers

The focus groups also revealed the true needs and challenges of planners today. Like the ability to generate results in a day of declining click-throughs; the need for exciting, out-of-the-box opportunities to enhance results; and the need for a true branding venue on the web — “a venue where brandwidth is not limited by bandwidth,” says Tom Stein, president of Stein Rogan.

This philosophy led directly to the second mission of FasTV.com’s campaign: To illustrate that the site trumpeted a unique offering for advertisers by combining their investment in television branding with their strategy for interactive advertising. FasTV.com can feature click-able commercials that run in tandem with traditional banner ads.

So what we have here is a product that bridges the emotional gap of television and the personal selection capabilities of the web. And in order to convey that, Stein Rogan chose a creative approach that was both timely and provocative — utilizing topical news clips of Monica Lewinsky and Jack Kevorkian in a way that breaks through the clutter and cleanly illustrates the site’s video-on-demand nature.

The Importance Of Being Ubiquitous

Like the ill doctor who fails to take his own advice and go to the hospital, media properties are notorious under-spenders when they are pooling budgets for their own branding campaigns. But in order for a campaign to position your product, be memorable, and create demand — it must be seen.

Three years ago, a site like Yahoo could spend a relative drop in the bucket on advertising and be guaranteed almost universal awareness among web users and advertisers. But with the roar and clutter of site advertising today and the recent onslaught of deals between sites and traditional media powerhouses (who all have free broadcast ad time to leverage), those days are over.

Barry Layne, SVP of Marketing at FasTV.com, sees the light, “We realized that in order to succeed in this crowded marketplace, we needed to listen to our own sales pitch and invest in positioning and branding FasTV.com. Today, to be noticed, a site has to spend heavily or stay out of the game.”

And to that we can all say Amen!

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