Guaranteed placement can play an important and useful role in video and Web strategy, by Craig McGuire
The media landscape's increasing complexity creates new challenges to placing broadcast video in a traditional way.
Luckily, the Web's evolving ability to tap niche audiences is expanding the scope of guaranteed placement, those paid ad vehicles driven by PR messaging.
While earned media remains the main goal, the proliferation of Web channels and sharing sites can enable PR to increase ROI by incorporating guaranteed Web placement into overall broadcast video campaigns.
For example, this past Thanksgiving, DS Simon Productions worked with Macy's to produce b-roll of Buzz Lightyear and The Smurfs being inflated and flown at Macy's Balloonfest – an outdoor test-flight event held prior to the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.
In addition to regular broadcast media outreach, the campaign also included two behind-the-scenes webisodes showing how Macy's created the balloons and floats.
“For our Web distribution, we guarantee placement on major news sites, including Google News [and] MSN,” says Doug Simon, president and CEO of DS Simon, adding that these require placement fees.
“There are also more than 20 viral video sites that we guarantee placement on, but through our sweat equity and not a cash payment,” Simon adds. These include YouTube, Yahoo, Google, and Blip.
The third component involved earned media online – taking a traditional PR and media relations approach and applying it to Web influencers to provide them with relevant content.
“What we are doing is an evolution of the concept, because guaranteed placement online works best when combined with earning media as well,” Simon says.
Guaranteed placement applies to the Web just as it does in traditional broadcast mediums. Strategic Web placement can enhance the visibility of video that has been distributed via tools like a multimedia news release, says Bev Yehuda, VP of products for MultiVu.
She adds that guaranteed placement should account for approximately a third of a campaign, including both the Web and traditional broadcast options. However, such rule-of-thumb percentages could vary widely based on media consumption of target audiences.
“Target specific industry Web sites and demographics... to engage with a specific target audience,” Yehuda says. “Keywords can be identified within target Web sites, allowing for engagement with the video directly during the user's browsing experience.”
Yehuda adds that all industries can benefit, but this still works best in a b-to-c environment. And, for placement, clips should be no longer than 60 seconds.
While it's important to make the most of online avenues of distribution, one must make sure not to get “wowed by the Web,” says Medialink COO Larry Thomas.
“The first key to success is not determined by the medium, but the message and the visuals,” he adds. He suggests researching the audience to find out how they are consuming media. Then PR can begin to develop an integrated strategy for delivering that message.
“Before you think about narrative marketing as a complement or alternative to earned media, slow down and ask two questions: Who is my target audience and where are they going to consume information?” Thomas says.
Make sure to provide easy paths for viewers to take action once they absorb the message, such as a link to a specific Web page, he adds.
When opting to use guaranteed placement as part of a broadcast video strategy, the most important thing is transparency.
“Narrative marketing can get cute, but people resent feeling misled,” Thomas says. “Our responsibility is to disseminate messages responsibly, so always let them know where the message is coming from.”
Survey target audiences to see where they digest their media
Try to leverage guaranteed placement for the campaign
Include a way to engage with users
Make it a hard sell, but soft PR promotion
Mask a sponsor. Let viewers know where the message came from
Get wowed by Web. Find out where the audience gets media