When Selling Ads Is a Missed Opportunity

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Ace Hardware advertising on the Weather Channel App

In a marketing universe that is constantly evolving, sometimes exciting opportunities are staring you right in the face — or dripping through your leaky roof. You just have to think outside of the traditional structures you’re used to.

Ace Hardware and the Weather Channel

Home improvement and weather. They are linked in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health — for all time.

So it made a lot of sense for Ace Hardware to buy targeted mobile ads at highly trafficked times on the Weather Channel app. People are going to check the weather before starting any project, great or small.

But did it make sense for the Weather Channel to be selling that ad space? What I mean by that is, since the two product offerings align so closely, perhaps there are larger opportunities for both parties here to reach new audiences and offer high value.

Targeting consumers at just the right time

Ace’s marketing needs were undoubtedly served well by their ad buy. They were able to reach potential customers on the weekends. They are obviously taking advantage of the fact that the Weather Channel app owns many people’s time as they are preparing to make home improvements. That is some smart micro-dayparting.

But doesn’t the Weather Channel also have a need to grow their audience of people who could use their service at just the right moment? And if one of those valuable moments is defined as the time people are planning to make home improvements, then perhaps Ace has some valuable audience to share as well.

Rethinking what it means to be a publisher

If the Weather Channel were to view Ace more as a publisher, it would be easy to see that there are fantastic opportunities to share info about their app in store and at points of purchase. The app can drive traffic to the store, but the store could also be driving traffic to the app.

The Weather Channel and Ace could partner in creating content to help people learn about upcoming weather. In some stores, Ace has actually paid a vendor to send out text messages to alert their customers to upcoming weather. Why not build  a strategic partnership with a world leader like the Weather Channel instead?

Ace could also build Weather Channel capabilities into its website and retail locator. Both parties could look to a talented home improvement expert to make videos with weather-related home improvement tips that take the relationship deeper. This would build up trust and a sense of authority for all the partners in the eyes of consumers.

Traditional ad buy limits opportunities for Ace Hardware and the Weather Channel

The traditional path of merely buying placement may create a momentary splash, but it doesn’t build relationships. With mobile devices so widely proliferated, it’s important to be constantly finding new opportunities to drive loyalty and bring in new users.

YYou have to think about user experience not merely as funneling people towards what they need or what you want them to do on your web properties. Rather, their entire experience of your brand online and offline is important. That is why it makes sense to re-envision the physical environment of Ace as a publishing opportunity. You have to go beyond traditional endcaps and POP placement and think about the whole consumer journey.

The traditional ad-buying model is rooted in the fair weather of the old days of media monopolies. Finding new opportunities to build content partnerships will protect your brand from even the harshest of marketing climates.

 

3 Responses to “When Selling Ads Is a Missed Opportunity”

  1. Mike O'Toole

    Great post. Most of the ad world (from agencies, to marketers and publishers) draw a hard line between publishing and promotion, and the reality is that line has been blurred for awhile.

    • Josh Cole

      Thanks Mike,
      I also think the shift in media types has a lot to do with that blurring. That hard line model was appropriate for and went along with newspapers, magazines, and TV as the major media outlets. I think we’re just starting to reinvent a scheme that works with and is suitable newer media. Somewhere in figuring out in which ways “the media is the message”(Mcluhan) or “the medium is the metaphor”(Postman), the business will find a way to make it work.
      josh cole

  2. Drew Davis

    Mike,
    You couldn’t be more right. Unfortunately, the media sales teams at most organizations aren’t able to consider these kinds of more integrated content concepts. You have to be willing to explore working with the editorial (or in this case maybe the programming) side of the house.
    It’s not easy today – but it’s getting easier and easier as the marketplace changes and media companies realize the real value of their platform isn’t the space or time they sell but the editorial content they create and the audience it garners.
    Thanks for commenting and reading the blog!
    - Drew

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