iMedia Connection

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With so many choices crowding the marketplace for brand marketers, the dizzying array of publishers, DSPs, ad networks, and social platforms can make for a difficult strategy decision. But premium publishers, such as USA Today, can offer brands the assurance of some tried-and-true rich media, multi-platform advertising options that have proven to be not only successful, but highly measurable. 

The opening to USA Today's Spotlight presentation at the iMedia Brand Summit in Coronado, Calif., outlined the boiled-down essentials for brand marketers when planning to scale a digital marketing campaign: Go big. Go smart.

Andy Jacobson, USA Today's vice president of digital sales, explained that the best and most successful approach to planning (and executing on) creative marketing programs relies heavily on a series of directives -- chief among them choosing a media partner wisely and sticking with the guidelines that work.

"Consumer attention is spread thin," Jacobson told summit attendees. He suggested that creativity and innovation are king when it comes to attracting and engaging consumers.

Some of the value and leverage that premium publishers can bring to the marketing mix include:

Content integration and sponsorships are just some of the key offerings that premium publishers can offer brands in today's digital landscape. Jacobson used an example of one of USA Today's reader outreach efforts in which the publisher spoke to readers to find out what they liked, what they were looking for in terms of content, and used polls and user-generated content to reflect reader interests, which provided ample sponsorship opportunities.

"Consumer interest drives content," Jacobson said. "Publishers are fully recognizing the opportunities for integrating content with brand messaging tie-ins."

Jacobson listed several of the rich media ad units USA Today offers brand marketers, tailored to different needs, reach, and consumer interests, such as content frames, the above-the-fold "Belt," the "Paperboy for Retailers," ad units for mobile and tablets, and the "Dig@torial," an expandable ad unit showcasing editorial and video that complements traditional editorial content. The 300x250 ad unit expands with a mouse-over and can feature any type of targeting and syndication across the web. Jacobson gave an example of a partnership with Sheraton in which the hotel chain used the Dig@torial to feature hotel properties and locations that were relevant to editorial content featured in the travel section of USA Today.

One of the many successful ad campaign partnerships USA Today has helmed was a multi-platform campaign for JC Penney. The brand was facing the challenge of putting itself front-and-center in consumers' minds for an upcoming Black Friday. So USA Today created a rich media hub with multiple content feeds related to Black Friday and holiday shopping in general. The hub also featured promotions, deals, and was tied closely with a national and local strategy that provided tools such as Google Maps, calendars, store locators, maps of stores, and sweepstakes. The campaign reached more than 100 markets by embracing rich media and cross platforms from online to print, underpinning Jacobson's point that successful digital campaigns must leverage multi-platform rich media in order to catch the attention and interest of consumers.

"Don't underestimate the impact of content," Jacobson said. "Leverage multiple creative executions."

Gretchen Hyman is editor-in-chief of iMedia Connection.

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