IQ News: Analysis – The Quest for Reach

Offline advertising is a necessity for online companies.
It was two weeks ago while running in the 88th annual Bay to Breakers race in San Francisco that Lisa Nash, vice president of customer management at online brokerage E*Trade, fully realized the power of offline advertising. She trekked along the 7.46 mile jaunt from San Francisco Bay to Ocean Beach sporting a T-shirt with a reprint of an E*Trade print ad that reads, “The same part of your brain you use for sports stats.” People began tugging at her shirt, saying, “Hey, that’s E*Trade, right?”
“It was an amazing amount of recognition,” Nash says. It also proved a point: if online brands are going to become household names-or at least move beyond usage solely among the digerati-off-Net promotions are vital.
Drew Ianni, an analyst with Jupiter Communications’ online advertising group in New York, cited Yahoo!’s decision last June to focus on advertising offline as evidence that big brands can only get bigger through traditional media. “It’s absolutely critical in this race for eyeballs,” he says, especially for the general portals that are trying to generate a mass audience.
While Yahoo! has the budget to pay for the king of reach-TV-other marketers and their agencies are also using a wide array of offline media and techniques to gain all important mind share.
“Web-based businesses, which is the core client that we’re working with, realize they need to build a brand, especially e-commerce businesses,” says Lee Nadler, CEO of New York’s Digital Pulp, which bills itself as being able to give clients entire online and offline marketing programs, from building Web sites to creating TV campaigns. “It’s a whole level of trust that a consumer needs to have.”
Digital Pulp is agency of record for DoubleClick, streaming media company InterVU and, most notably, technology retailer, for which it created an integrated effort to reposition the company as it closed 250 stores and took its business completely online.
Nadler sees the next stage of integrated marketing as “marketing convergence … being able to drive people to these different mediums and using the power of each to play off one another.”
As part of its $10 million TV campaign for Egghead, Digital Pulp created a series of three ads that ran on ZDTV. In the last 15 seconds, a product was featured that was being auctioned at the same time on the site. According to audience measurement firm Media Metrix, following the national campaign launch in mid-November, unique visitor traffic to increased by 47.9 percent in December.
For some companies, offline media doesn’t have to mean TV, a positive because most sites don’t have the money or the anticipated audience to warrant huge broadcast buys. Eisnor Interactive, New York, takes Web brands and plasters their names-literally-around pertinent cities and through various integrated channels. CEO Di-Ann Eisnor says, “We’re trying to achieve two things simultaneously-get the results in the short term, and trying to get their brand out there and create an experience.”
For financial site, Eisnor created a campaign urging the audience to “listen to the whispers of Wall Street.” The campaign included posters, moving and stationary billboards and print; trial subscriptions increased between 10 and 30 percent each day of the campaign. Eisnor also does sampling programs for clients such as ISP American Interactive Media. “Our clients don’t necessarily want to spend $20 million on traditional media,” Eisnor says. “Access to the Web and clients’ stores are everywhere. We’re able to go out and create new points of sale,” including subscriptions to sold through ads on mobile phones. Omnipoint and Pagenet users who received stock data through the services were served messages to try the site by pressing send.
Another alternative is getting brands in front of a huge gathering of their target audience: sports fans. Strategic Sports Group, New York, is responsible for promoting Compaq-owned search service AltaVista to hoops fans through promotions at NBA games. “The program was primarily designed to help them get their name out,” says Peter Stern, principal of the company. It included courtside signage in nine markets, as well as distribution of 100,000 copies of an Alta-Vista CD-ROM.
Starting in the third quarter, Strategic Sports will promote Top Jobs on the Net during Major League Baseball games, a campaign that will include putting promotional booths at games where people can access the database. “It allows [clients] to cross over and reach a different audience in a special environment,” Stern says. “Someone who’s at a basketball game is going to be a lot more involved in what’s happening … than on another medium. Sports crosses you into the mainstream.”
For Palo Alto, Calif.-based E*Trade, building a brand meant first building the category of online investing in very high-profile media. Last year, its campaign ran in business publications and on financial cable stations like CNNfn. The company aired spots during the
programming before the Super Bowl and during the World Series. E*Trade has a $100 million marketing budget, which Nash says is divided among traditional, ad banners and sponsorships, and direct mail and other forms of advertising.
The site relaunched in September to include information for the general public, not just members. This spring’s new campaign by recently-hired agency Goodby Silverstein & Partners, San Francisco, with the tagline, “E*Trade, the number one way to invest online,” is targeting the 10 to 15 million people who do their research online but invest offline, Nash says. In addition to attention-getting outdoor ads on buses and billboards, the campaign features irreverent TV spots. In one, a man who sees his stock skyrocket quits his job, kisses a co-worker and generally goes berserk before he realizes it’s crashed.
“Certainly, it’s the whole message … E*Trade can help you take control of your financial life, but you have to be involved too,” Nash says. In addition to running during high-level sporting events, including the NBA playoffs, the ads aired during the season finales of Ally McBeal and ER. There also are radio spots and print ads in regional newspapers, as well as banners and sponsorships online.
Ianni says more brands need to take advantage of offline advertising opportunities through companies that buy space on their sites. Instead of just thinking of cash, he says, they need to think, “What can this advertiser deliver to me with regards to offline advertising?”
To Nash, proof of the success of traditional advertising is in the numbers-E*Trade moved up in April’s Media Metrix results; it now has greater reach than the combined reach of competitors AmeriTrade and Charles Schwab. And, of course, there’s the response from people on the street. “There’s a lot of good grandmother research out there that it’s working,” she says.