My favorite sitcom these days is “The Goldbergs,” a 30-minute weekly view of the ‘80s based on a geeky movie-loving kid and his family. The episodes coincide with what is happening in 2016 and relate to what happened in the ‘80s. The last two episodes are an excellent example of product placements via custom programs. One focused on “Eddie the Eagle” the week after the movie of the same title was released, and the most recent covered “Dirty Dancing” days after the announcement of who would play Johnny in the remake of the movie by the same name.

Although “The Goldbergs” is a television show, the same revolution is happening in the digital space. So now imagine it’s 1994 and you open your web browser to read an interesting article. The page loads and what’s the first thing you notice on the page? Banner ads at the top of the page and down the side. You find yourself with greater interest in the products than the actual article and you click the banner to learn more.

Fast-forward 20 years, you open your browser to something of interest, only this time the banner ads fade into the background. They are a part of the page, and it’s an advertiser’s nightmare. No one is paying attention to your online ad placements that you paid to place.

So what’s a digital advertiser to do? Hopefully there are media savvy partners in your corner (see my previous blog “Getting the Most from Your Media Relationships”) that help you navigate “beyond the banner.”

The 21st century requires advertisers to create unique programs. These custom programs can be as simple as allowing your brand to become a part of the page, video displaying the use of your product or driving visitors to your site where greater interaction occurs. These custom opportunities create connections with the target audience without being intrusive.

Here a few examples:

  • Contributed Content: Information about your product(s) can be integrated into the page. The advantage here is that the advertiser becomes a seamless part of the editorial. Advertisers become the expert and control what is being said about their companies and products. Contributed content can take the form of webinars, blogs, Ask the Experts and case studies or be more specific providing “how to” on using a particular item. Contributed content is typically on a publisher’s website, but may be linked to the advertiser’s home page, generating traffic and greater engagement.
  • Contests: Don’t settle for your standard “win an iPad for registering.” Provide a more in-depth opportunity. Have visitors learn about your products and services by providing a treasure hunt on your site. Work with media partners to promote and/or create the contest and have your target audience interact through questions, downloading gated materials and/or video demonstrations.
  • Current Events: Tie your products and services to what is relevant that day, week, month or season. This helps the target audience remember who you are and what you offer. The events should be related to your brand, so don’t be afraid to put your own spin on the current event.

Working with clients in the 21st century is about creativity in all areas – not just the creativity of the ads placed, but where and how they are placed. Collaborating with media partners can give your brand, products and services exposure that your competitors will envy. Now back to “The Goldbergs” – where a show about the ‘80s imitates advertising in the 21st century.

Previously published on The M/C/C Minute.