Anatomy of an Integrated Ad Campaign
Dissecting two publisher programs from conception to deliverables.
When advertisers arenât looking for a specific audience segment or a broad brand buy, theyâre in the market for something creativeâa campaign that stretches across print, face-to-face and digital and leverages a brandâs value proposition in a unique and useful way. Publishers have filled that void by forming marketing services divisions, but really what this comes down to is convening a variety of departments to build a program for a client thatâs able to meet customers on any platform theyâre on.
Thatâs easier said than done, and many times, publishers fall flat when they attempt to transition from the pitch idea to execution. Here, we take a closer look at two programs created by The Knot and UBMâs Electronics group that utilize a variety of platforms to maximize exposure and customer interaction through unique engagement elements.
The Knot: Promoting Utility and Authenticity
From an advertiserâs perspective, there are few things to get more excited about than weddings. You canât have one without pulling out the credit card, which gave rise to a program that wedding specialists The Knot leveraged with Chase.
Central to the campaign was utility. Couples that are about to get married are essentially embarking on a spending spree and what better way to introduce an advertiser than during the highest spending stages of the process? Yet, for Carrie Reynolds, vice president of sales, branding alone wasnât enough. âWe wanted to make sure this was focuses on delivering solutions for the customer in authentic ways,â she says. âWe looked at all the different places the customers were going to make their decisions and planned to connect with them during the highest-spending parts of these different stagesâwe wanted to integrate a conversation into those areas.â
Chase was looking to promote its Blueprint brand of credit cards and needed a campaign that could showcase it as an authority on financial responsibility. âLike a lot of customers these days, they are looking for conversation and authenticity,â says Reynolds.
Reynolds and her team crafted a program that included print, video and online elements that were attached to specific parts of the spending arc that wedding couples typically go throughâthe dress, reception, new home furnishings, baby room, and so on. âWe pulled all those elements together and created a custom hub that housed them allâa video series, case studies, and so onâand each was focused on specific solutions,â says Reynolds.
The content hub gathered the various elements together in one spot, but individually those assets were also spread across XO Groupâs brandsâTheKnot.com, TheNest.com and TheBump.com. A custom video series, for example, appeared on all of the sites, and Twitter chats were created that featured conversations with financial experts and XO Group editors.
In print, Reynolds wanted to avoid the typical advertorial approach and devised a way for Chase content to interact with edit without actually integrating the two. While The Knot magazine acts as a source of inspiration, and the Chase content was printed on vellum inserts that layered messaging on top of the fall issueâs content. One insert touts Chase Blueprint as a way to âPay Off Your Gown Fasterâ and overlays a pictorial of wedding gowns.
Pricing these programs comes down to measuring production time along with the value of each media. âThe way I look at it is production, peopleâs time and the value of the media,â says Reynolds. âItâs pulling those elements together and the value of the media is based on impressions and how weâre pushing it out. We donât do the âif you by 12 pages weâll add this other stuff.ââ
UBM: Taking It on the Open Road
Like all of these integrated campaigns, clients are looking for âbig ideas.â And in UBMâs case, its client Avnet, an electronic component distribution company, wanted something big to help build awareness for its e-commerce group Avnet Express.
Big is what they got. UBM Electronicsâ creative services team, now called the Partner Services Group, came up with a year-long, cross-country road trip, during which EE Times editorial director Brian Fuller would drive a red Chevy Volt, making hundreds of stops along the way.
Called the âDrive for Innovation,â the trip was the hook to hang a variety of custom program elements: Interviews with local media outlets; stops at Avnet office locations for interviews with key employees and Avnet supplier partners; a dedicated website that tracked Fullerâs progress and housed all of the content he and others generated from the trip along with integrated social media components; video assets; newsletters; and sweepstakes. The car was featured at several UBM tradeshows and a fully formed PR campaign surrounded the entire project. The car also went through a thoroughly documented teardown to see how the Voltâs technology works.
âYou always start with a clean whiteboard and the skyâs the limit, and then ultimately you refine those ideas down,â says Christian Fahlen, UBM Electronics senior director of programs and delivery. âOne of the undercurrents was celebrating innovation across America. We threw out some high-level ideas and the one that immediately grabbed everyoneâs attention was the road trip. This was the one that delivered on their objectives and had some merit from a content perspective.â
With a program this big, execution had to be broken down into its functional unitsâsupport for the content team; website development and maintenance; a traffic-driving program; a PR strategy. âThose were the core functional units,â says Fahlen. âOn top of all that, we had overall program management and direction which included reporting and general overall accountability.â
Teams gathered weekly for internal meetings and separate meetings with Avnet were also held weekly.
Measurement and Deliverables
Fahlen says deep reporting and metrics, particularly from the programâs website hub, were provided to Avnet on an ongoing basis to make sure expectations were being met. But the key goal was moving the needle on brand awareness for Avnet Express. âWe benchmarked that prior to the program, then midway and then post-program,â says Fahlen. âWe had to show that we did increase awareness, so research was a large component, as well as traffic to their site, engagement, and registrations at the website as well as Avnet Expressâs website. PR was another metric, too.â
The price tag on a program like this is $1 million-plus, and that was arrived at by determining what was needed to spend on its development and then putting a budget behind it.
Nevertheless, a base program was built that met core expectations, but it also included add-ons for additional cost. âWith programs of this scale, the client expects, and certainly receives, a breakdown of what each element costs,â says Fahlen. âBut inherently you have to give yourself and the client some flexibility. What looked great in June might not look so good by February.â