British Airways Links Ads to Exceptional Media Content

British Airways wants to be known for exceeding expectations, but how does it intend to make that image fly?

The airline will offer a free upgrade to first class if business service, including new flat-bed seats, fails to live up to a passenger’s expectations. Plus, British Airways called upon Agency.com to link its online ads to news and other media content reflecting activities or events deemed to exceed expectations.

British Airways’ Club World “Expectations Guaranteed” campaign, launched today, comes as the summer travel season winds down and business and holiday travel picks up. Instead of offering points or frequent flyer miles, the airline is guaranteeing a free upgrade on a future trip if a passenger’s expectations aren’t met and lets British Airways know why.

The airline’s campaign includes a Web site, online sponsorships, mobile, social networking, behavioral targeting, re-targeting, RSS, and search marketing, and it’s going an extra step to integrate its ads with several media sites based on content.

On MarketWatch.com, Reuters.com, and Hoovers.com, the British Airways ads will be paired with news or information that describes activities or events that exceeded expectations.

Whose expectations? On MarketWatch.com, exceptionally well performing stocks identified by editors will be paired to ads on sponsored pages and updated with an XML feed of the stock’s movements to reflect changes. At Reuters, ads and sponsored ad pages will be linked to a variety of content based on contextual relevance and the use of an algorithm that recognizes keywords like “exceptional,” said Sarah Bachman, media planner for Agency.com.

Contextual targeting through Reuters.com and MarketWatch.com will also apply to the campaign’s other interactive elements, including mobile devices, said Douglas Kunreuther, account director for British Airways for Agency.com.

“On the phone, through RSS, or through behavioral targeting or retargeting, and the list goes one. We’re excited because we’re broadening our reach through this campaign through so many different vehicles,” he said.

Kunreuther also acknowledged that taking on a campaign about exceeding expectations put pressure on Agency.com to devise an initiative beyond the norm.

“One of the things they realized when they were planning this was avoiding run of site and run of network placements. We didn’t feel that was the best way to go for this target audience,” he said. “Instead of just doing the standard things, [British Airways] wanted to make sure that we are exceeding their expectations as well.”

This is not the first time Reuters has offered ad supported pages linked to specific topics covered by the news agency. Earlier this year GE’s Ecomagination product and marketing initiative included sponsored areas covering business and the environment.

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