When Media Companies Self-Promote

I dedicate a lot of space in this column to consumer brands. Businesses with products and services to sell to consumers comprise a tremendous segment of today’s digital ad campaigns. They also represent a large portion of ad agencies’ client base.

That isn’t to say, however, that consumer brands can take the credit for having all the most innovative, strategic, and memorable campaigns. As it happens, the ad agencies behind those campaigns – along with technology vendors and media suppliers – are just as proficient at producing great campaigns to promote their own wares.

It might be a case of the chicken and the egg: did agencies learn to create stellar work for their clients by first practicing closer to home, or is it the client campaigns that fueled their agency work? No matter which came first, media businesses are showing us that they’ve saved a little creativity for themselves. Just as brand marketers can benefit from their professional expertise, so too can we glean knowledge from their efforts at self-promotion.

Timely Placements

Ad placement and timing is critical to any campaign, and media companies know this as well as anyone. AOL proved it this week when it ran display ads on industry sites like Adweek.com and secured prominent interstitials in the digital section of AdAge.com.


The placements are an obvious match for the online advertising Goliath, but it’s the launch of this campaign in correlation with Advertising Week that makes it so shrewd. Banners linked directly to the AOL Advertising Blog, where the company had a second opportunity to tout its services by apprising visitors of its presence at the New York event. Posts included daily on-site updates in the form of slideshows, and these featured third-party tweets not just related to Ad Week but specifically referencing AOL and its latest product. The strategy is cunning in the way that it connects banners with AOL’s timely blog, but also in the way that it leverages AOL’s Twitter coverage and extends the reach of favorable tweets well beyond the social site.

Thought-Leadership Videos

Advertising agencies are always looking for unique ways to garner attention, striving to impress current clients while also attracting new ones. Around the holidays this manifests itself as a glut of e-cards, but by no means is the effort limited to seasonal fare. Recently, Baumann Ber Rivnay (Saatchi & Saatchi advertising, Tel Aviv) launched a YouTube video that aimed to offer some insight into a somewhat nebulous term: integrated advertising.


It’s a clever approach; not only does the video offer real value to the viewer, who presumably wants or needs to better understand this marketing mainstay, but it also demonstrates the agency’s expertise on the subject, along with its potential for creativity. It’s like a visual version of a thought-leadership article or blog post, with similar results; “If a company can produce something informative and entertaining on a subject like integrated advertising,” reasons the viewer, “imagine what it could do for me!”

Since launching last month the video has already generated nearly 60,000 YouTube views, and while many of these can surely be attributed to consumer shares, the video is making the rounds of industry professionals and could well lead to some new business leads. It is, at the very least, a strong example of online branding that consumer-side businesses would do well to emulate.

Differentiating Emails

Most every digital media planner and buyer is familiar with Burst Media, an online media company and ad network known for its long history and vertical content channels. When generating new business by connecting with current and potential clients, the company might have sent a text-based email akin to the countless others marketers receive. Instead, it came up with a way to differentiate itself and its offerings from its competitors while also increasing brand recall.


With a subject line that read, “Any Color You Like,” Burst used an interior design theme to highlight some of its content channels, underscoring the size of its network reach with data from comScore. By aligning these channels with the paint and color theme, the company managed to make its offerings memorable and fun. There’s no question that Burst’s self-promotional campaign will stay with digital strategists when it comes time to plan a new campaign. The concept leaves such an impression that one can only assume a Burst client campaign would provide the same.

And that’s exactly the point.

Self-Promotion image on home page via Shutterstock.

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Vector graphic of a megaphone spewing out business themed items, such as a laptop, tablet, pen, @ symbol and smartphone