IQ News: ‘Cards From The Edge

Digital audio postcards speak louder than words. Cool Tools is a new column that takes an in-depth look at online marketing applications used by advertisers on the Web today.
Since the advent of online advertising, e-marketers have tried to convey relevant messages to potential customers in ways compelling enough to retain attention and promote action. The difference, after all, between a successful online campaign and a big waste of time and money, is merely a mouse click away.
In an effort to break through the clutter, a crop of cool e-marketing tools have surfaced. The latest contender is Los Angeles-based Internet marketing company GMO’s digital audio postcard, or DAP [Adweek, Sept. 20]. Like its e-marketing predecessors, GMO’s digital audio postcard technology provides advertisers with the opportunity to target messages and offers to specific online constituencies. DAPs, however, can also pull off an e-marketing hat trick by giving consumers content and e-commerce opportunities, and advertisers desktop branding all delivered through e-mail, the Net’s perennial killer app.
“The whole idea was to create some eye- and ear-candy that invites immediate download and provides hyperlink pathways to two or three e-commerce sites or e-tailers,” said Ralph Simon, GMO chairman.
DAPs are delivered via opt-in e-mail; e-mail lists are either harvested from relevant databases or provided by clients. DAPs contain fully digital audio bites that generally range from 30-second to 10-minute clips. A resident Web link directs recipients to either an e-commerce offer or information site, while an updatable text box embedded into the DAP window delivers ad messages.
The beauty of the postcards lies in the technology’s simple elegance: not only are the e-mailed file attachments relatively small (resulting in fast downloads), the self-playing, cross-platform DAP doesn’t require any additional plug-ins or even a proprietary player to launch the files.
Also, claimed Simon, “the coding architecture allows for a whole market research tracking component.” Simon described DAPs as “permal” e-marketing tools, a clever take on permission-viral marketing.
Since the company’s launch in 1995, GMO has amassed a client roster that includes music companies, car manufacturers and television networks.
GMO recently released a DAP to promote Sting’s American tour, in conjunction with tour sponsor Compaq. Simon said that GMO has developed a series of DAPs that are being “dropped” in fan e-mail boxes during Sting’s touring program, and are tied into Compaq’s broader marketing plans.
Perhaps GMO’s biggest success story thus far has been DAPs developed for veteran rock band Yes. According to Yes’ management company, Los Angeles-based The Left Bank Organization, the DAPs were enormously helpful in promoting the band’s upcoming concert tour and pre-selling the album, The Ladder, online. When the Yes DAP was sent out in August, it received an astonishing 27 percent click-through rate, with over 6,000 downloads of the full single through a partnership with Redwood City, Calif.-based digital music solutions company Liquid Audio. Jordan Berliant, general manger at The Left Bank Organization, said that the Yes DAPs also helped to sell-out nearly a third of Yes’ concert venue in Los Angeles.
“For a band like Yes, which has had success [spread out] over the past 30 years, it’s virtually impossible to reach an audience the way that Ricky Martin reaches his audience,” said Berliant. “Pop radio is not a tool for us. Our audience is older, but we know from research that they were four or five times more likely to use the Internet than the average music consumer.”