‘Fusion marketing’ goes beyond banner

By now, most marketers are sold on the benefits of online permission marketing. But for a good number of companies making their first foray into the online space, getting to the point of speaking one-on-one with their customers often proves to...

By now, most marketers are sold on the benefits of online permission marketing. But for a good number of companies making their first foray into the online space, getting to the point of speaking one-on-one with their customers often proves to be a concept that is difficult to grasp, let alone execute effectively.

So says Mark Rubinstein, managing director of Yahoo! Canada, which, armed with its trusted brand name and one of the largest online audiences in Canada – boasting over six million unique Canadian visitors per month – has introduced a marketing program it says is designed to help companies extend their brands online and reach specific target markets.

Although Yahoo! is still best known as a Web search engine and portal, the company is in the process of transforming itself into a fully integrated purveyor of online marketing expertise.

‘Over the last couple of years,’ explains Rubenstein, ‘we’ve deliberately focused on taking all of our content and media services, all of our commerce products and services, and all of our communications tools, and combining all of that in an integrated package, so advertisers could look at the Web as an exciting new way to build community and connect with customers.’

To that end, Yahoo! has developed a ‘fusion marketing’ program for advertisers that amalgamates offline promotional campaigns and sponsorships with rich media-enhanced online direct marketing initiatives.

The program premiered this fall across North America with 7-Eleven as the first participant. In Canada, Ford Motor Company of Canada is in the process of rolling out a number of fusion marketing initiatives with Yahoo!, although details were not available at press time.

To coincide with this year’s back-to-school season, 7-Eleven and Yahoo! set out to target the teen demographic by introducing a co-branded Slurpee – 7-Eleven’s wildly popular flavoured-slush drink – backed by a four-week promotion on Yahoo!’s Web sites, including Yahoo.ca, where visitors could send their friends online greeting cards featuring a ‘buy-one-get-one-free’ Slurpee drink coupon.

The Slurpee campaign, which was designed to expand the convenience retailer’s teen audience, was also accompanied by an online contest, where users could register to win a trip anywhere in the U.S. or Canada.

According to Jennifer Stewart, brand manager for Yahoo! Canada, the contest allowed 7-Eleven to very quickly and cost-effectively develop a sizeable database of teens that it can turn to for future marketing efforts – the kind of outcome she says Yahoo! wants to be able to deliver to its clients on a consistent basis.

‘We’re trying to deliver programs that really go ‘beyond the banner,” she says. ‘We want to give our partners unique programs that are customized and measurable to them.’

Rubenstein says that in addition to an enormous aggregated online audience, part of what Yahoo! offers marketers is the ability to drill down to specific demographics and user characteristics to match what they are seeking.

In most cases, he says, the data generated from any given fusion marketing initiative can be shared with the partnering company in an effort to help them build a knowledge base about their customers and what they’re interested in online.

‘A significant component of the kinds of partnerships we are building is allowing marketers to gain better information on who their customers are, as well as who their potential customers might be,’ he says.