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In-text advertising is a powerful technique for helping your brand break through the in-market clutter, and it's not nearly as complicated as you might think.

The competitiveness in the automotive marketplace continues to grow, and considering the 61 new launches slated for 2007, this year will no doubt prove to be another year of marketers looking for the next silver bullet in their marketing mix.

With so many choices for the consumer, how does one stand out as a brand in the interactive world we live in? Media consumption is changing, but the media that marketers are buying is not changing at the same pace.

Consumers have decided when and where they want to engage with your advertising message, which has brought about new fields and technologies to accommodate their needs: DVRs, search, pop-up blockers, spam filters… need I say more?

Clearly banner blindness is proliferating. While banners offer branding on a page in an automotive marketplace that is overwhelmingly competitive, what is a marketer to do that needs to break through the noise and be seen?

Enter in-text advertising and word equity.

In-text advertising goes to the heart of word equity, offering marketers the opportunity to align a user-initiated video or rich media advertisement with words or phrases within the content of a webpage where the consumers are most engaged. In-text advertising empowers marketers to align words and phrases most relevant with their products and brands. Priced on a cost-per-click basis (CPC), marketers only pay when the user clicks. By owning key words and phrases that the brand is associated with, each and every time a consumer chooses to engage, a user-initiated in-text ad is delivered.

Why is this significant you ask? Well, let's assume for a moment that you sell an SUV that has 10 competitive models, and let's also assume that your vehicle core attributes include words like safety, fuel economy and luxury. If you could own every occurrence of these words and ensure that each and every time they occur in relevant content that the consumer has choice to engage and associate your vehicle with those words, why wouldn't you? This is brand word equity at its best.

What is in-text advertising?
Very different from search, in-text advertising empowers marketers to reach consumers at different entry points in the sales funnel. In-text is much like a traditional IAB display ad targeting consumers at multiple levels in the funnel, but with a much better engagement, CTR and ROI. Based on your marketing objectives, in-text advertising can reach consumers at the top and middle of the funnel with lifestyle sites, and at the bottom of the funnel with in-market sites.

In-text advertising is now delivered to more than 30 percent of the U.S. internet population in just about every demographic you can imagine. The units are delivering clickthrough rates on an average of 10-15 times that of online banners/media or better, and they are outperforming display ads (behavioral targeted or not) in terms of awareness and conversion. This is not a complicated space.

Moreover, the in-text advertising space is not complicated when it comes to planning and implementing a campaign. In fact, it is not much different then planning any other media campaign. And should you be concerned about dipping your toe for the first time, companies exist (including Vibrant Media) that can provide consultative support at every step in the planning process, from brainstorming to execution.

I am ready to plan. What do I need?
There are many different ways in which to use the in-text suite of products. In-text works best as a brand or branded response product.

First step is to determine what the desired outcome is for your campaign. For example, are you trying to:

Deliver core actions (to generate a brochure request, leads, et cetera)
Build awareness
Launch programs that deliver increased awareness
Deliver geo-targeted campaigns and drive traffic to regional sites
Increase ups
Next, you and your team (or your in-text account manager, if you decide to go that route) would select the appropriate creative unit based on your desired outcome. This step generally will only need to occur with your first couple of campaigns, as you and your In-Text Advertising team learn what works best for your brand. However, if you've decided to work with an in-text partner, I urge you to stay engaged with them on this process. (the market leaders have a great deal of expertise in knowing what does and does not work for your marketplace).

Once the unit has been determined, develop your keyword and phrase list. To do this, I must stress that you should not use your search list; this is a display medium and, therefore, requires different words and tactics. Again, an in-text advertising team can suggest the best performing words and phrases based on your specific needs. This should be a collaborative process.

It is imperative to develop relevant copy for more general terms. This will help the consumer connect the word with the ad and will improve your CTR.

Finally, you will need to provide assets for your campaign. Keep in mind that when running a campaign that is conversion metrics-focused, it is helpful to provide regular back-end data to your in-text team or partner, so they can optimize accordingly.

How your competition is working the in-text angle
Many OEM's are now using in-text advertising on a regular basis, either via their 2007 Upfront or through a regular budget allocation. I expect that the 2008 Upfronts will see nearly every OEM engage, since most key sponsorships and competitive inventory in 2007 have already been sold out.

Furthermore, the in-text footprint will continue to grow because as media consumption continues to shift and consumers tune out of other forms of media, marketers need to find relevant placements that perform. "Nobody can argue with this performance," said David Harris, eBusiness Manager, Suzuki Motors.

Gabe Greenberg is SVP, Global Strategic Relationships, at Vibrant Media. Read full bio.

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