Building on Synergies in Media Partnerships

Good relationships are based on communication and trust. In online advertising, they’re also based on something else: synergy. It isn’t easy to build a campaign in which everything between the publisher and the advertising brand aligns. Site user profile and target audience, page content and ad content, and ad unit and engagement goals aren’t often perfectly in sync. But when they are, you know it.

Such was the case with a recent campaign devised by two masters of the written word, and Barnes & Noble. In this co-branded social media effort devised to promote the Barnes & Noble Nook e-reader, publisher and advertiser joined cerebral forces to come up with an angle that would be equally appealing to Barnes & Noble customers as to users. Together the brands asked the question: “What’s the most memorable word you’ve learned from a novel?”


Most avid readers would thrill to this kind of challenge, but it takes more than an enticing concept to make a successful campaign. To create something relevant and memorable, brands must play up existing synergies through as many angles and channels as they can. With this approach they can make it almost impossible for audiences to miss the message, and even more unlikely that they’ll forget it.

Together, and Barnes & Noble found three techniques for achieving this with their campaign. Consider how they might work for yours.

      1. Using co-branding. Whenever you’re co-branding a promotion online, it’s important to follow one critical rule: build creative that provides something of value to fans of both brands involved. Barnes & Noble and’s “Word Worthiness” quiz, which appeared on’s Facebook page, invited users to share their most memorable words. It was just the kind of thing that would entice a Facebook follower, but that would also be of interest to users and would-be customers of the Nook. According to campaign reports, over 5,200 users completed the quiz and more than 600 shared it on their own Facebook wall.
      2. Relying on cross-promotion. Media buyers tasked with placing content-heavy ad campaigns faithfully reuse the material on multiple sites and blogs. This tactic can be particularly effective when those channels include sites produced directly by the media publisher and the advertiser. When Barnes & Noble launched the Nook campaign, used its “The Hot Word” blog to provide readers with some fascinating facts about literary history, along with some of the answers mined in the “most memorable word” quiz (rapscallion, febrile, and taphophilia were among them). At the same time,’s blog content editor made a guest appearance on Barnes & Noble’s own App Buzz Nook blog, in essence doubling the campaign’s exposure and increasing the potential target audience reach.


      3. Leveraging social media followers. Facebook and Twitter followers are a valuable currency these days, but that doesn’t mean brands – whether they’re content publishers or advertisers – must keep them all to themselves. In fact, if the two can find a way to share the wealth, it can result in some significant online exposure. In the case of Barnes & Noble and, the ad campaign was promoted through both companies’ social media presence. The brands knew that there was likely significant overlap between the audiences, and that presented an opportunity to post something that would interest everyone and serve everyone’s needs. While Barnes & Noble got its chance to draw attention to the Nook, gained additional social media content that would resonate with its loyal followers and generate new ones.

When the synergies between two companies are right, a campaign can go far. When brands can find unique ways to leverage those synchronicities, however, the results can leave you at a loss for words.

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