The New Multi-Platform Campaign

Watching the Super Bowl got me thinking (as marketers do) about the amount of time, money, and effort that goes into creating a spot worthy of such a high-profile arena. Post-game, I like to start tracking the way advertisers leverage their exposure. Do they launch a related campaign online, taking the already familiar creative into new territory? Does it get translated into a radio spot or transformed into a billboard ad?

Multi-platform or cross-media campaigns are common among many advertisers, particularly as studies continue to illustrate the relationship between watching television and surfing the Web. In 2002, one survey found simultaneous TV/Web usage to be around 13 percent among men and 8 percent for women (all aged 18 to 34).

Fast forward to late 2008, and nearly one-third (31 percent) of all Internet activity taking place in North American households occurs while the user is watching the tube. According to the Nielsen Company, which conducted the survey, the heaviest Internet users and television viewers are one and the same. Adults 35 to 54 were found to clock the most simultaneous Internet and TV usage minutes.

More data on the topic of media convergence finds that even offline advertising can actually be more impactful when placed on various platforms. Integrated Media Measurement Inc. last year found that the season premieres of a selection of TV shows attracted more viewers among consumers who had been exposed to ads both on TV and on the radio than those exposed to a single platform promotion. Four cable shows saw similar benefits when promoted on TV, the Web, in-cinema, on TiVo Showcases, or on the radio in tandem.

When we start planning new campaigns for our clients, there’s a good chance we already have offline creative to work from. Multi-platform exposure helps advertising campaigns.

Something we don’t hear discussed often, however, is how an equivalent strategy exists exclusively online, and how this is beneficial, too. If promotion across numerous offline and online platforms increases advertiser exposure and better incites consumers to take action, doesn’t it stand to reason that the same rule applies to strictly digital mediums?

I had an interesting conversation with someone from the publisher side the other day who lamented the fact that his clients weren’t more aware of the value of this approach. Like many of today’s publishers, he has much to offer media buyers, including a primary site, a handful of sister sites, a mobile site, and extensive video content.

He needs his advertisers to consider these in the context of a “multi-online-platform” campaign. Yet even his sales reps rarely think to package his inventory as such, or point to the value of securing this level of exposure.

They should, and if they don’t, we should be requesting that they do. When we come across a site that perfectly fits our client’s needs, we should be utilizing its content network and the multiple media within its digital family to increase the odds that our ads will reach our target. The outcome is not unlike that of a site sponsorship: the more places we can be that are both appropriate and routinely employed by our potential customers, the better.

We’re already putting this strategy into practice with retargeting technology. When people think of retargeting, they think of one site to another, or one site to a network. It won’t be long before advertisers are all retargeting from one online platform to another.

Imagine that you’ve recently stayed at a Westin hotel after researching your trip on Westin.com. After returning, you start to see Westin ads on Digg and other sites you routinely visit. No big deal.

But what if you also saw ads for the hotel in video form and on the mobile sites you visit? The effects are more powerful than traditional cross-media advertising because the ads are actually relevant to your life, instead of randomly delivered across numerous platforms.

Multi-online-platform advertising affords a simple approach to ensuring more complete online coverage. It’s a strategy that is greater from a value perspective than the sum of its parts. Super Bowl advertisers, take note.

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