Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Banner Advertising on Social Networking Sites

After insulting the VP of a major banking firm, I decided to email her an unsolicited idea for her internet marketing strategy. Perfect timing, right?

Anyway, I had listened to this VP describe a campaign for a newly launched banking product, and felt there were better ways to utilize the banner advertising they had developed. Thus far, they had pretty poor click-thru on their banner ads, using them primarily on Why the poor response? I don’t think it is because of the banner design, which I felt was pretty compelling and interesting. I think the ads were ineffective because internet users are becoming increasingly blind to on-line advertising.

Since I am fascinated by social media and how it is affecting consumer behavior, I think there are ways that companies can compromise between traditional methods of marketing and opportunities opening up in the web 2.0 environment. In the case of these banner ads, I thought that compromise could be between incentives (aka bribery) and referrals on social networking pages.

Here is the scenario:

New Banking Product is geared toward young, affluent, internet savvy consumers. It’s likely that they network with other young, affluent, internet savvy consumers. So, once this customer is approved via the product website (which is the only way it is available), the customer is thanked, then offered the opportunity to be entered into a drawing for a very cool tech gadget in exchange for posting a banner for the product on their Facebook/MySpace/blog, etc. They only had to post it for a short period (3 days, or so). The banner could even be modified to say something like “Check this out…I did.”

The banner is now in front of the demographic the bank is looking for, and is vouched for by the original customer. The banner becomes much more relevant, the bank is given the opportunity to strengthen the relationship with the customer, and the customer becomes a voice for the bank.

Obviously there are caveats. I have not discussed or even explored the technological requirements involved, the methods of ensuring compliance with X days posted on the site, or the advertising restrictions on networking sites in general. Also, it is obviously crucial to run this type of strategy through the company’s brand filter to ensure it makes sense with their business objectives and relationship strategies.

Still, I think it’s an interesting tactic. Social media is increasingly about participation between consumers and businesses, about conversations and experiences, and about indirect methods that grow (or aim to develop) positive brand attributes. This tactic is far from that personal dynamic, but I think it’s on the path.

So, how did this VP reply?

"We know we need to get into that space, but we're treading lightly, for not only budget reasons but we're a bank and there is fear in the hearts of our legal and compliance people!! Web 2.0 is all about getting other people to talk about you rather than us talking about us so we need to get there!"