MSNBC’s Huge Blog Ad Buy
Struggling cable news network MSNBC has invested one million dollars in an ad surge that includes this blog.
The MSNBC cable network plans to flood the Internet this week with its largest concentrated online pitch, running advertising on hundreds of Web sites and blogs. The cost of the campaign, to promote three prime-time programs, is estimated at just under $1 million. MSNBC, owned by Microsoft and the NBC Universal division of General Electric, will promote the shows – with their hosts, Keith Olbermann, Rita Cosby and Joe Scarborough – in ads that are to start appearing tomorrow and continue all day Wednesday. Some ads will promote segments on the shows about life online, like how marketers sponsor “viral” video clips that consumers can forward to each other.
Actually, they started yesterday morning, at least on BlogAds.
MSNBC will take over every pixel of ad space on Wednesday on three Web sites: newsweek.com, slate.com and washingtonpost.com. It is the first time the three sites will all run ads for the same sole advertiser on the same day, said Caroline Little, chief executive and publisher at Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive, part of the Washington Post Company. “Consumers will see the campaign has a lot of oomph behind it,” Ms. Little said.
MSNBC is also using search engine marketing, buying keywords on Google, like “viral videos.” Computer users searching for articles with such words will see ads alongside their search results with links to MSNBC.com.
“We want to find out something we haven’t known before,” said Frank Radice, senior vice president for the East Coast office of the NBC Agency, the internal unit that works on behalf of networks like MSNBC, NBC and Sci Fi Channel. “Can we drive traffic from the Internet to the cable channel?”
Val Nichols, vice president for the creative services group at MSNBC, estimated the campaign would get 114 million viewings in total. Among the 800 blogs that will run the ads are Adrants, Althouse, Curbed, Daily Kos, Gothamist, IndieWire, Largehearted Boy, Talking Points Memo and TV Newser. Buying ads on 800 blogs is a major commitment to that fledgling medium. Budget Rent A Car bought ads last month on 177 blogs, and Audi bought ads this summer on 286.
The announcement of the ads were followed a couple hours later with an email from BlogAds founder Henry Copeland warning us that a few of the ads were “racy” because they were advertising for a piece on porn.
Rev. Don Sensing was not concerned about this, noting,
The show the ad references today, about the ubiquity of porn and the porn industy, is an important one. Most people have no idea how big a share porn has of the national economy Ã¢€“ and how addictive online porn is. Pastoral counselors know, though.
Duncan “Atrios” Black, though, thinks MSNBC missed the mark:
I certainly appreciate MSNBC’s massive blog advertising buy, but they seem to have missed the opportunity to make use of the targeted advertising that blogads allows. Liberals watch MSNBC for three main reasons. First, it’s frequently a better place to get actual news than CNN. Second, Keith Olbermann. Third, there are some who are addicted to those occasional moments when Tweety sounds a bit reasonable. The purpose of MSNBC’s ad buy is to get people to actually watch the network, not to drive traffic to their site. If they were smarter they’d use the ad space to remind people why the shold watch Olbermann, or let us know that Tweety is letting one of his occasional liberal guests on to have a say. On conservative blogs they’d have ads talking up the Mayor of Looneyville’s show. Leave the neon tits to the sex blogs.
That may well be right, although the click through rates I’m seeing on my adstrip indicates that the ad is “working” in the sense of generating clicks. Whether it’s doing anything to increase viewership is another matter, of course.
The thing that struck me is just how poor MSNBC’s site is. There is a lot of good content there, including being the portal for Newsweek magazine, but much of the high-visibility content is dated. For instance, “Tips for a stress-free Thanksgiving” would seem somewhat moot on December 12. Indeed, it is the newest of the stories linked under the “MSNBC Live” section, most of which are a more than a month old. That’s just ridiculous.