Wednesday, April 25, 2007
Web Network Offers Reebok Flexibility
Glam Media Stresses
Willing to Experiment
By EMILY STEEL
April 25, 2007; Page B10
When Reebok launched a new line of shoes and apparel endorsed by actress Scarlett Johansson last month, it took a different approach to Internet marketing. Instead of buying ads on mass-audience portals like MySpace, as it had done for past campaigns, Reebok struck an exclusive online deal with fashion and lifestyle Web concern Glam Media.
Glam.com featuring a promotion for Reebok's new Scarlett Johansson line of shoes and apparel.
Glam worked with Reebok International, a unit of Adidas AG, to put together a marketing campaign aimed at young women that ranged from the traditional -- banner ads -- to less-traditional promotions that looked more like editorial features, such as interactive quizzes about Ms. Johansson and mentions in Glam blogs.
And the ads didn't show up just on Glam.com. Glam has assembled a network of roughly 300 similarly themed blogs, Web sites and magazines that it links to -- broadening Glam's reach. Glam's female-oriented network drew 10 million unique U.S. visitors in March, making it the second-largest women's online property after NBC Universal's iVillage, according to comScore Media Metrix.
"You are not just hitting one portal; you have thousands of these other sites. By showing up incrementally on these other sites, you are getting more bang for your buck," says Marc Fireman, head of digital marketing for Reebok.
Glam Media is one of several emerging Web networks that offers advertisers the chance to run narrowly targeted and heavily customized ad campaigns -- with customized the operative word. Lots of Web firms, of course, help advertisers target specific groups of people on different sites. What makes Glam and other networks, including female-oriented properties SheKnows and Sugar Publishing, stand out is their willingness to devise new marketing formats, ad executives say.
"They will bend over backwards for you. That's refreshing from a marketer's standpoint because sometimes you just feel like the partnership isn't a partnership on these big deals. It can be like pulling teeth," says Martin Reidy, president of Modem Media, an arm of digital marketing concern Digitas, itself a unit of Paris-based Publicis Groupe.
Modem Media worked with Glam to develop a campaign for Kraft Foods' Crystal Light low-calorie drink. Crystal Light is sponsoring an "Instant Color Therapy" quiz on Glam, where visitors can find out which color best fits their mood. Selecting "warm and cheery" for a mood reveals an array of orange apparel: a string bikini, an embroidered tunic, flip-flops -- and peach tea Crystal Light. This is the first time Modem has run a campaign for one of its clients on Glam, and the company says it is pleased thus far: The quiz is among the most popular on the site.
Glam has also shown it is willing to blur the line between editorial and advertising by, for instance, getting its sponsors mentioned in its network of blogs. While bloggers have editorial control over their sites, they're often receptive to anything that looks like news in the fashion, style and beauty areas. For example, Glam Media announced yesterday the launch of a handbag designer competition with Hearst Magazines' Marie Claire. During the day, a number of blogs noted the news with links back to the contest's site. In the Reebok campaign, the Glam-affiliated fashion blog "Couture in the City" recently posted an item about the Glam exclusive "Scarlett Hearts Rbk Giveaway."
Glam Media's founder, chairman and chief executive, Samir Arora, says Glam wants advertising that is both useful and entertaining, an approach he says isn't that different from the fashion magazine world. "Does [advertising] deter you from picking up Vogue? No. It actually enhances the experience," he says. "The key is in understanding when ads are desirable."
Mr. Arora, a Web entrepreneur who is also chairman of venture capital firm Information Capital LLC, started Glam in 2005 after noticing that most online advertisers focused on targeting males through search advertising. Women were underserved by new media, he believed.
To be sure, some brands are hesitant to associate with smaller networks that lack an established reputation. Instead, they are sticking with more-established sites such as iVillage, which was launched in 1995. "These smaller networks have a little bit of growing to do," says Cari Weisberger, senior partner and group director for WPP Group's Media Edge.