Microsite Advertising

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Overview


Microsites are like websites, but they are separate from a company or organization's primary site. Much like Advergames and Interactive Ad Screens, microsites are interactive. However, a microsite acts as miniature website that is specially designed to provide an important part of an advertiser or company's message. Miniature and interactive are key to achieving success with microsites (Azzaro, 2008, p. 383). Microsites focus on communicating a specific message to a specific segment or niche of a market. They can also focus on selling a specific product or service. Microsites are marketing tools and are usually managed by the marketing department ("Why a Microsite?," 2009).

Benefits


Microsites are a stepping stone in driving a visitor to take action by registering, purchasing something, or requesting more information about a company's product or service (Thomas, 2008, par. 1). They can act as an online sales representative for a company or organization and usually serve as a main destination for a company or an organization's advertising campaign. Many microsites are created to replicate the approach and style of a company's leading sales representative or advocate, which allows the brand message to reach more people, more often. The miniature websites also provide a more focused and more relevant array of content about specific aspects of a product or service, which provides easy presentation of the advertising message. Microsites also promote word-of-mouth advertising easily by including relevant information in an entertaining and timely way. Companies and organizations are also able to use blogs, content-sharing sites, podcasts, video and RSS feeds to promote their microsites ("JupiterKagan: Microsites Becoming More Popular," 2006).
Many microsites, if built correctly, are able to improve search engine rankings, which helps promote increased reach for the advertising message. Having fewer stakeholders to approve content allows microsites to be updated easily. The sites also provide instant market learning by presenting what viewers consider to be valuable. Most importantly, microsites help to establish individual brand identities and promote interaction between brands and consumers ("Why a Microsite?," 2009).
Microsite.com provides multiple benefits for using microsites in advertising campaigns. Some of the listed benefits include:
  • Providing control of almost every aspect of the site from its content, features, and layout to the design and graphics.
  • Allowing for customization so the site can feel as unique as the brand.
  • Providing focus on encouraging word-of-mouth and other viral activities.
  • Integrating brands with popular social media, like Facebook and Twitter.
  • Providing tools to include blogs, forums, comments, polls, and surveys.
  • Providing optimization for search engines..
  • Providing a cloud-based solution so the site can be used from any computer or browser.
("Why a Microsite?," 2009).


Television Network, AMC's microsite for Breaking Bad series
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Honda's Problem Playground Microsite

Limitations


The advertising advantages of using microsites may begin to fall short when compared to the advertising advantages of using social media networks. In a 2007 article of Brandweek, Brian Morrissey wrote, "the growth of social media is causing marketers to realize they can't expect consumers to always seek them out." In the constantly changing media world, audiences are no longer willing to seek out information on their own; many people only come in contact with an advertiser's branded message when it is placed directly in front of them.
In the Brandweek article, Morrissey discusses how social media sites like Myspace, YouTube, and Facebook allow their users to share content with friends. Because of this feature to share content, many companies like Coca-Cola, Blockbuster, Saturn, and Verizon have decided in the past to use various social media networks to broadcast their advertising messages instead of creating an interactive microsite. Morrissey argues that for brands attempting to target a younger demographic, it is now easier to find them through social media networks (Morrissey, 2008).
In a 2008 editorial from Marketing, Andrew Walmsley discussed shortcomings of microsites in terms of their content. Walmsley said, "limited content, few links from other sites, and competition from the brand website push these sites down the rankings" (Walmsley, 2008).


Prices


Advertising via a microsite is considered to be very cost effective. Microsites can be produced quickly and with ease, saving companies valuable time and money. Creating and maintaining a microsite can cost up to as much as a company's traditional website. The average costs, depending on design and feature choices can range anywhere from $2,500 to $50,000 or more (Campanelli, 2006, par. 5).


Scheduling


Microsites are ideal for short-term, specific purposes. Many microsites are designed to have a limited lifespan. Several companies only use microsites for a small range of purposes like offering specific products or promoting certain events. In this case, the microsite's schedule would revolve around the schedule of the specific product or event.
Unlike the microsites specifically used for sales and promotion, many well developed microsites provide timeless content, which allows companies to continue hosting their branded messages without having to delete or recreate their sites.

Logmographic Society International Microsite

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Audience Qualities


The demographics of microsite visitors vary from site to site, much like the demographics of brand consumers differ from brand to brand. Microsite audiences tend to be "comprised of people with a greater affinity toward the brand," and tend to respond more strongly to the brand's advertising messages ("Microsites: Big Impact, Smaller Reach," 2010). Many frequent visitors of microsites also have a similarity of being very technologically savvy and enjoy visiting new internet destinations.


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A Microsite developed by Stickee to accompany Maltesers sponsorship of the ITV show “Loose Women”.

Impact



Dynamic Logic is a company that assists other companies in many industries evaluate the effectiveness of their branded microsites. Data collected globally from Direct Logic concluded that microsites have a substantial impact on consumers’ awareness and perceptions of a brand. To gather the data, Dynamic Logic randomly surveys the microsite's visitors. The designated control group completes the survey before visiting the microsite and a "statistically-similar" group completes the survey after leaving the microsite. The differences noted between the groups' surveys represent the measured impact of the microsite.
Dynamic Logic found that, on average, microsites have an impact of 7.8% among their visitors ("with respect to conveying key brand messages"). "In other words, 7.8% of people become aware of a campaign’s message who otherwise would not have been" ("Microsites: Big Brand Impact, Smaller Reach," 2010).
While microsites have larger brand impact than display or video ads, their reach is much smaller. However, microsites attract a "particularly relevant audience," and the audience quality could outweigh quantity while building relationships with consumers ("Microsites: Big Brand Impact, Smaller Reach," 2010).



Successful Microsites


Burger King's microsite, subservientchicken.com , is considered "one of the seminal events in viral marketing" ("Ad Agency/Microsite Hosting," 2010). GreenSoft Solutions, Inc. collaborated with Burger King and their agency, Crispin Porter + Bogusky, to host the successful microsite that promoted Burger King's line of chicken sandwiches. The microsite displays a man in a chicken costume waiting to act out commands given by the site's visitors. The chicken obeys commands like "watch television," "dance," and "pray." The now legendary site has grown immensely with a loyal following.

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In 2005, Paterno Wines International created a microsite to promote a Greek white wine called Boutari Moschofilero. The Boutari microsite used the Greek theme of women “goddesses.” The site also offered premiums like a night out with 10 friends, recipes to compliment the wine, and an interactive dating guide. The microsite proved to act as a major advantage for the company when Boutari's case of shipments for the second half of 2005 were up 128% year over year (Quinton, 2007, par. 7-8).

Boutari Moschofilero 2005 Microsite
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Geico's popular caveman character decided to move his bachelor pad online to CavemansCrib.com to further promote the Geico brand. CavemansCrib.com and other similar microsites have received great attention from online and traditional media, as well as helped solidify additional media exposure for the brand ("Ad Agency/Microsite Hosting," 2010).



Cavemans Crib



In the summer of 2008, the Converse brand launched a large campaign that featured over 20 microsites, including one index page, marking the brand's 100 year anniversary celebration ("The Converse Microsite Fest," 2008).

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Two examples of Converse Microsites

Other Microsites


Various car companies are currently taking advantage of microsite benefits. Many car companies allow their microsite visitors to explore the different features of their cars.


Mazda's use of microsites


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Nissan Microsite


Companies like Hallmark are also using microsites for various types of promotion. In 2007, the Hallmark television channel, which is controlled by Hallmark Cards, launched a microsite to promote "The Note," an original Hallmark production. The microsite was designed to engage current viewers the with content offered on the channel, as well as attract new viewers. The site offered behind-the-scenes interviews with the actors, photo galleries, and the movie trailer. The site also allowed visitors to create notes to send to loved ones (Mann, 2007).

Hallmark Mobile Microsite example

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References


Ad Agency/Microsite Hosting. (2010). GSI. Retrieved April 10, 2010, from GreenSoft Solutions, Inc. website: http://www.gsihosting.com.

Azzaro, M. (2008). Media in Cyberspace. In Strategic Media Decisions (2nd ed., pp. 383-384). Chicago, IL: The
Copy Workshop.

Campanelli, M. (2006, August). Marketing with a Microsite. In Entrepreneur. Retrieved April 10, 2010, from Entrepreneur Magazine website: http://www.entrepreneur.com.

JupiterKagan: Microsites Becoming More Popular. (2006, October 12). Marketing Vox (par. 4). Retrieved April 9, 2010, from Watershed Publishing website: http://www.marketingvox.com/.

Mann, J. (2007, November 27). The Kansas City Star, Mo., Advertising and Marketing column: Microsites help Hallmark Channel attract viewers, advertisers. Kansas City Star, The (MO), Retrieved from Newspaper Source database.

Microsites: Big Brand Impact, Smaller Reach. (2010, March). Dynamic Logic's Beyond the Click. Retrieved April 10, 2010, from Dynamic Logic website: http://dynamiclogic.com/.

Morrissey, B. (2007). Social Media Sites Replacing Microsites in Marketing Mix. Brandweek, 48(41), 5. Retrieved from Academic Search Complete database.

Quinton, B. (2007). Big Ideas for Microsites. Direct, 19(3), 49. Retrieved from Business Source Premier database.

The Converse Microsite Fest. (2008, July). Creative Intelligence. Retrieved April 10, 2010, from http://idcreativeintelligence.blogspot.com.

Thomas, D. (2008, April). In Defense of Microsites. In iMedia Connection. Retrieved April 10, 2010, from iMedia Communications, Inc. website: http://www.imediaconnection.com.

Walmsley, A. (2008, January 16). Microsites: approach with caution. Marketing (00253650), p. 14. Retrieved from Business Source Premier database.

Why a Microsite? (2009). Microsite.com. Retrieved April 9, 2009, from the Executive Whisper, LLC. website: http://www.microsite.com/why-a-microsite/.