etown.com Launches Nine-City Advertising Test

Preparing for its version 2.0 launch this July, home electronics retailing site etown.com launched a series of advertising tests and research studies to run from late April to mid-June in nine of the nation’s most “wired” cities.

Designed to measure which type of media best reaches the site’s target consumers, the campaign will consist of a combination of online, print, outdoor billboard and radio ads. Only one type of advertising will run in each market, making it easier to judge which media were most influential, the company said.

Radio spots will run in Raleigh-Durham, Austin and Columbus, OH from April 19 through May 1. Simultaneously, print spots will run in Salt Lake City, Albuquerque, and Grand Rapids while outdoor billboard ads will appear in Sacramento, Milwaukee and Kansas City from May 10 through June 7. Banner ads for each radio station’s Web site will also be used. Spending details were not disclosed.

Developed by New-York ad agency RDA Interactive, the campaign uses a construction site theme to illustrate the building of “The World’s Greatest Consumer Electronics Store.”

With the version 2.0 launch set for July, the campaign encourages consumers to provide input about the site in exchange for a “Buy One Get One Free” DVD gift certificate from Reel.com.

“We used an Internet Rating Index to determine which markets would make the most sense for us during this trial period,” said Robert Heiblim, etown.com CEO. “We’re specifically tracking the results of each ad test separately so we’ll know which media were the most effective, and how to spend our multimillion budget for our version 2.0 launch in late July.”

“This is one of the most strategic campaigns we’ve seen an online company conduct,” said Michael Racz, a principal of RDA International, parent company of RDA Interactive. “It’s not all that common to see online companies spend money upfront to ensure the success of the advertising campaign.”

etown.com’s version 2.0 site is being designed and built by equity partner Organic. Founded by five consumer electronics journalists, etown.com has a staff of editors and writers researching and reviewing current products. Version 2.0 will offer a sophisticated comparative shopping bot” and become a full-service e-commerce operation via its DealerWeb retail federation, an association of brick-and-mortar and online retailers

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