Advertisers Work Within Site Brands

Last week, I explored an underutilized criterion by which to plan and purchase media: compatibility with a site’s unique brand. Ads (and advertisers) consistent with a site’s voice, attitude, and style are more likely to resonate with the site’s users, because it’s that voice, attitude, and style they identify with and enjoy.

Many sites work hard to help their advertisers deliver messaging and creative they know will work with their particular audiences. It’s an incentive for media planners to view publishers as partners rather than simply suppliers — to tap their expertise and involve them in the campaign strategy, even if it means modifying a predetermined approach.

Asking for Success

This kind of collaboration, coupled with a good match up of the ad’s brand with the site’s brand, is responsible for producing some of the most memorable campaigns we’ve seen. Among the more obvious partnerships is Ask.com and comedy vodcast (define) Ask A Ninja, part of Federated Media‘s (FM’s) network of sites.

In May, Ask A Ninja started running a series of nine episodes sponsored by the search engine, which has been using humor to differentiate itself in its recent cross-media rebranding campaigns. The Ninja vodcasts were capped off with a call to action to click on the Ask banner running alongside the media player and to search for the term “ninjuice” to gain access to a bonus video.

Funny and irreverent, the site’s videos are a perfect fit for Ask’s edgy new image. In his blog, FM publisher and chief revenue officer Chas Edwards called the campaign a “team effort” by Ask and Ask A Ninja and “smart…in that it ties together banner ads with integrated, co-branded messages in the video programming.” Indeed, the Ask banners referenced the formula inherent to the Ninja videos, which fans of the vodcast have come to know well.

He also revealed that during the campaign’s first 20 hours, 1 in 12 video viewers visited Ask and watched the bonus video clip. That’s a conversion rate of 8.3 percent.

By having the call to action come from the Ninja himself, the partnership between publisher and advertiser was further solidified in the viewer’s mind. It appears the site itself approves of — even endorses — its ads.

Digging for Results

The connection may not be as immediately apparent, but another site for which FM manages advertising, Digg, recently partnered with Intel on a campaign that further demonstrates how a partnership with the right site brand can deliver great results. When the social news site launched a new application that allows users to better visualize the progression of news stories as they rise and fall in popularity a couple of months ago, Intel was the exclusive sponsor.

Instead of limiting its presence to banner ads, Intel and Digg took their partnership to another level. Intel helped fund Digg product development. Digg responded by thanking Intel on a blog post announcing the new product, resulting in additional exposure for the sponsor. The post attracted throngs of Digg fanatics eager to learn the latest news about the site.

The draw of partnering with Digg must certainly have been its popularity among tech-savvy consumers and influencers, a crowd not unlike those attracted to the Intel brand. The Digg brand is difficult to quantify, given its content is user-generated. But like Intel, the site — and Digg Labs in particular — strives to be an innovator and improve the lives of its users through technology. The two brands do complement each other, but in this case it’s in their approach to their products.

Evaluating a site’s brand not only reveals the level of compatibility but can also result in unique campaign ideas. Ask the sites on your short list to share their vision for their brand while you’re sharing yours, and you’ll likely unearth something special.

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