Case Studies for Innovative Branding: Fashion

In this series of articles, we’ve been taking a look at integrated sponsorships and how innovative marketers are using them to build their brands. This time out, we’ll look at Alloy Online’s recent partnership with Seventeen Online, and see how a smart, integrated sponsorship was created that truly marries the right brand with the right content environment.

By now, we’ve probably all heard the reports — over the next few years banners will decline as a percentage of overall web ad spending and sponsorships will rise dramatically. eMarketer’s just released report underscores the shift — its estimates show banners will shrink from 52 percent of all dollars in ’98 down to 26 percent in 2001, while sponsorships will increase from 40 percent to 58 percent in the same period.

Why is this happening?

More stats from eMarketer point out the obvious reasons why: 1) over 99 percent of banners don’t get clicked on; 2) almost half – 49 percent — of users don’t even look at banners; and 3) only 9 percent of web users even look at banners with any regularity.

Rich media holds the promise for a more intrusive and powerful branding message (and will certainly succeed when broadband becomes more widespread). But the question is still: What can you do for your brand or client that will produce an impactful, interactive strategy and/or campaign today?

The answer may lie in creating a highly integrated sponsorship to provide a more involved brand experience. Furthermore, working in partnership with a web publisher who clearly delivers your brand’s target both in demographics and psychographics, and who will work with you to create a sponsorship that uniquely meets the demand of your brand strategy, will produce winning results NOW.

The Alloy Online partnership is an example of this kind of deeply integrated sponsorship. And, the company further increased the odds for success by partnering with Seventeen Magazine Online, thus combining the power of two leading trans-media brands for teen girls.

The partners created a multi-faceted model that maximizes integration and ROI by: 1) driving user registration for Alloy, 2) branding Alloy through association with Seventeen, 3) creating excitement and buzz through unique promotions, and 4) building traffic on the Alloy site — all in a single sponsorship.

Alloy is a leading Internet destination providing community, content and commerce for teens. Alloy has as its primary goal the creation of Internet media partnerships designed to drive customer registration.

To meet this objective, Seventeen Online built a co-branded registration area housed within the Seventeen site. Each month a different promotion will run on Seventeen.com to drive registration — an example is the current “Perfect Prom Thingies” sweepstakes to win prom accessories. These promotions will run throughout the site via banners and fixed buttons in key content areas and on the home page. Online newsletters will also be incorporated into the mix with links back to the co-branded registration area.

In developing this part of their program, Alloy again utilizes a basic rule of web success: Bring your content, promotion, and/or message to where the customer is, instead of focusing 100 percent of your energy on the difficult (and often unsuccessful) task of diverting consumers to your site and away from the place they’ve chosen to be.

The other goal of this campaign is to drive traffic to Alloy Online. This is accomplished by running banners throughout Seventeen.com with messages like “Get Free stuff at Alloy” in order to incentivize Seventeen’s audience to visit the Alloy site. Additionally, Alloy’s popular “Virtual Makeover” content is integrated within the Style File fashion area on Seventeen.com with links back to Alloy.

Since Alloy and Seventeen share similar audiences, Alloy is able to link its brand with the Seventeen brand, and through this partnership ally itself with a premier fashion source for female teens. In doing so, it gains the rub-off power of the Seventeen brand, as well as capturing the Seventeen audience while they’re in a “fashion state of mind.”

Alloy’s VP of Business Development, Andrew Roberts, sums up the value of this partnership best. “As a leading Internet site for teens, we are very selective in how and where we spend our online ad dollars. With banners alone, it’s very difficult to create a strong emotional connection to our brand without completely partnering with a site. When advertising on other sites, we realize that our targeted user has self-selected that destination.

“Our goal is to find the best way to involve them with the Alloy brand on another site’s turf,” Roberts added. “We are always looking for innovative ways to integrate our brand’s message with the site’s content. Our partnership with Seventeen Online is a great example of how we are delivering our great contests and cool content to our targeted consumer in an environment that enhances the Alloy brand.”

Registration, plus promotion, plus branding, plus increased traffic — the result is a partnership that adds up to mega-success online.

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