IQ News:Movers

Fred Seibert was named president of MTV Networks Online and will oversee all MTV Web properties. Seibert, who was the original creative director at MTV, previously served as president of Hanna-Barbera Cartoons and founded ad shop Fred/Alan Richard G. Stalzer was named vice president of advertising sales for Palo Alto-based E*Trade. Previously, Stalzer was the western regional advertising director for New York-based Money Magazine Chris Tragos has been named vp of marketing and business development for Paramount Digital Entertainment, Hollywood, Calif., the online division of Paramount Pictures. He was a managing partner at Troon, Santa Monica, Calif.IQ News: Users who logged onto Hotwired last October experienced a shock. The buzzing reds and greens that put the “hot” into San Francisco-based Wired Digital’s site were gone.
Instead, the screen was a study in dull grey. The change wasn’t caused by a server meltdown, though, just clever marketing, something which became clear when visitors moved the mouse and the screen throbbed with color again, to promote Hewlett-Packard color printers.
Goodby Silverstein & Partners, San Francisco, hatched H-P’s Power of Color campaign, which ran on 25 sites including community site theglobe.com and Wired Digital’s Hotwired and Web Monkey properties. If the campaign served–momentarily–to strip some of these sites of their carefully crafted images, the people who work on the sites didn’t seem to mind.
“We brainstormed with sites to see who would do what for us,” says Stephen Dwyer, Goodby’s online media analyst. When sites couldn’t do what Goodby and H-P envisioned, it was only because they couldn’t pull off the technical challenge, not because Web publishers balked at letting advertisers meddle with the substance of their sites. “The sites that could, did, and the sites that couldn’t, didn’t,” Dwyer says.
In fact, advertisers are finding it’s ask and ye shall receive, as publishers scuffle for juicy campaigns and the hard-to-come-by ad revenue they generate. (H-P said it spent several million dollars on the online portion of the printer campaign.)
Examples of ads that go far beyond the banner are ever more commonplace. New York-based theglobe.com recently left a blank space in the middle of its front door, into which the digital version of a Vincent Van Gogh self-portrait floated, an adjunct to a banner advertising Intel’s artmuseum.net showcase site. The ad was only the most recent of such ploys by Santa Clara, Calif.-based Intel to tout the wonders of multimedia on sites that are willing to cooperate. And iXL, San Francisco, is currently leaving a big sandy footprint on USA Today’s online masthead in a promotion for Quokka Sports, San Francisco Sun Microsystems, Palo Alto, Calif., is joining its high-tech brethren in going beyond the banner. The online extension of its “the dot in dot-com” campaign broke last Thursday on some 70 sites including Hotwired and financial site CBS MarketWatch.com. Left Field LLC, San Francisco, Sun’s interactive agency, worked with Lowe & Partners/SMS, San Francisco, to bring the campaign online.
“We’re trying to do rich media as often as possible,” says Kevin Burke, managing partner at Left Field, “especially since Sun is the creator of Java and the people who will be viewing these are probably the most technically sophisticated people on the Web.” The only sites that made the media plan were those willing to accommodate Sun’s special needs, which included unusually-shaped ad units, persistent and self-closing interstitials, and tricks like an animated blimp floating over sports sites. The payoff for publishers was a long-term commitment from Sun.
Sun’s consumer ad campaign highlights the interest in using the Web as a branding tool. “We consistently see a trend toward more brand-based buying,” says Kathryn Korostoff, president and research director of Sage Research in Natick, Mass. “For the industry these days, brand is the only way for companies to differentiate themselves in any quantitative way.”
Though money changes hands, doing this kind of campaign works like a partnership. Advertiser and publisher have to be on the same page–literally–from the beginning, while the publisher’s ad sales department in turn has to stay close to its production and development teams.
“We comped up a bunch of things,” Left Field’s Burke says, “and asked our creatives to go wild and invent stuff. Then we presented it to the publishers and said, ‘This is what we’d like, can you do it?'”
When the process doesn’t work so well, when, for example, the sales force makes promises its developers can’t keep, panic ensues. “We need to be realistic,” says theglobe.com’s director of advertising Will Margiloff. “Whenever we sell something, we give a realistic closing date, usually three or four weeks if we’re going to completely alter different pages or navigation.”
Theglobe.com’s ad-sponsored re-models include using an advertiser’s color scheme for the design of a chat room.
Margiloff admits these out-of-the-box ads are very difficult to price. “What we try and do is understand the type of traffic we can generate and back it out into a CPM to show the advertiser a metric they can understand.” At theglobe.com, that figure includes the cost of production.
Does the ad side encounter angst from editorial? “Most Internet companies are very entrepreneurial,” Margiloff says. “The people doing the production and editorial know we have to make some money.”
The company’s production manager, Travis Sherer, who oversees both creative and editorial, agrees. “Because this medium is dynamic,” he says, “it’s very organic. Things can change, things can move, so the editorial groups don’t feel so encroached upon.”
Indeed, it would be wrong to think that it’s always advertisers pushing sites to get deeper inside. Many publishers have opened the kimono. When Sun came courting, San Francisco-based CBS MarketWatch.com, for example, was ready. “When I first came on board,” says Scot McLernon, vice president, sales, “I met with my programmers and my CEO and told them we’d need to be very receptive to everyone’s requests and be proactive in building solutions that went beyond the banner.” McLernon’s team has built animated headers, editorial sidebars, and, for Sun, digital wallpaper. In most research sections, the financial information will be backed with a pattern of the Sun logo. CBS MarketWatch.com charges for unusual ads in its usual way; the cost is based on number of impressions and exclusivity.
Wired Digital formed a new team of handlers to deal with this new breed of ads. Its national accounts team consists of Hotwired executive editor Cate C. Corcoran and Chris Bolte, formerly top sales rep, now national accounts director. “We were developing sites so quickly,” Corcoran says, “that a lot of times the communication between ad sales and the product side was hard to sync up.”
Wired Digital prices this sort of deal based on its four years of experience doing wild campaigns. When the company revamped its network last month, design and ad issues went hand in hand. “The number of units, size of units and sponsorship opportunities ought all to be issues from the ground up,” Corcoran says. With that firm foundation, publishers seem to think, the sky is the limit.