Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Effective online ads

If you’re reading this, go to MSNBC and see if the ad I’m about to analyze is still live on the home page of the site.

T-Mobile in the US is advertising its network coverage in a series of really cool flash based banner ads and landing pages. The flash ads are activated when the page loads (or when you scroll down to them, I’m not sure). They are interactive on mouseover and not nearly as obtrusive or flashy as other banner ads on less credible sites. Two ads appear on the home page, one square right panel skyscraper ad and one flat rectangular panel further down the page in the middle of the news content. The viewer can wave the mouse over these ads and actually lead the animated character to the right where you see the tagline for T-Mobile.

Upon clicking through, the user is taken to a landing page (which is being tracked to see how effective the MSNBC ads are and which type of ad is drawing higher clicks) where they’re encouraged to map their cellular reception signal strength on T-Mobile’s signal map.

I’m fascinated by this campaign and it’s effective for the following reasons:
  • Simple message: coast-to-coast, T-Mobile has comprehensive cell coverage. Through research, T-Mobile has likely identified that cellular reception is a strong decision criteria for a certain group of consumers (likely the same profile of consumers who read MSNBC) over other offerings like mobile media, jazzy phones, or rate plans. Network clarity is still a big deal.
  • Simple call to action: see zones of signal strength in your area. It’s interactive and the ad only asks you to see the cellular coverage in your area. It’s not salesy. It’s intriguing. (I wonder if they’re tracking the locations people search for and matching it back to clickthroughs…it would be interesting to know which states or cities had the greatest interaction with this ad)
  • Unique online ads that catch the eye and are not too distracting. The 3D perspective created with Flash looks great and it isn’t screamingly page killing in the overall schema of the MSNBC site.
  • Loads of opportunity for testing and optimization. I assume that the ads, landing page, and destination page are tested on A/B splits and that this campaign is appearing on other partner sites.

I am surprised though that MSNBC couldn’t enable geotargeting for this ads – why is a Canadian web user seeing ads for a US cellular network?

Otherwise, terrific stuff.

See? Banner ads can still be effective.

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