A fondness for widgets (and all things digital): Alice Ho, interactive buyer/planner, Genesis Vizeum Canada, Toronto

Ho's current client roster reads like a who's who of key Canadian blue-chip brands: Suzuki, Panasonic Canada, Sirius Satellite Radio, Heinz Canada, Ocean Spray, Remax, the Toronto Star, Indigo Books & Music, Research In Motion and StarChoice.

Claim to fame

Ho’s current client roster reads like a who’s who of key Canadian blue-chip brands: Suzuki, Panasonic Canada, Sirius Satellite Radio, Heinz Canada, Ocean Spray, Remax, the Toronto Star, Indigo Books & Music, Research In Motion and StarChoice.

A recent fave of Ho’s is the launch of BCAA’s campaign to promote the automobile association as a facilitator of travel. The campaign targeted BCAA members, but also a wider audience of travellers in general, using a contextual environment to reach a niche market. The campaign was BCAA’s first foray into the online realm, and Ho’s strategy not only utilized rich media and high-impact ad units, but it also leveraged the targetability of the medium.

An embedded search widget was created within rich media ad units and placed in top travel-oriented websites, along with portals such as MSN, Yahoo Canada and Canada.com. The units were expandable, and some operated as peelback units. Additional behavioural targeting was conducted with Yahoo and AOL Canada to find users who had researched or looked at travel-related content in the last 30 days. The search functionality was also built into a travel portal at BCAA.com.

In her bid to raise the profile of the BCAA, Ho aimed to leverage the inherent brand equity of Expedia, which powered the backend of users’ searches for flights, cars, hotels, vacations and cruises through the BCAA.

The campaign was measured on impressions, clicks, landing page efficiency and final sale. While the client wouldn’t allow Genesis Vizeum to divulge actual performance numbers, this much was offered: to date, an increase in awareness has provided 230% more leads than originally estimated.

Her path to digital media stardom…

Ho attended the University of Ottawa for a BA in Communications, moving on to Humber College’s ad and media sales program. In 2006 she began her career with ZenithOptimedia, rounding out her experience in offline media before shifting her focus to online. She made the move to Genesis Vizeum last fall to help develop their interactive division.

Which brand is getting digital right?

‘The film and DVD industry ‘gets’ interactive. For example: The Simpsons Movie did an amazing job in building brand while creating massive buzz with their viral component. It ultimately created a connection by allowing us to essentially be one of them. In addition, they rounded it up with an incredible array of roadblocks, re-skins and pre-rolls of the trailer.’

Which brand would you most like to work on?

‘I would love to work on a beer brand because there are so many unique platforms that will appeal to the target of LDA to 34. The creative can be more risqué and the placement can be more intrusive without feeling invasive. The alcoholic beverages category allows advertisers to build a personality to match the person drinking a product. ‘It’s almost like an online dating service. If you like long walks on the beach and cold, thirst-quenching beer, call me. My name is Blue.”

What media tactic is going to be the next big thing?

‘Mobile media, but not in terms of current use. Right now, advertising in Canada for the vehicle is being driven by SMS- and MMS-based campaigns. This has been a function of cost and infrastructure. With newer technology, cheaper phones and, more importantly, cheaper rates for the use of ancillary services, I anticipate that the growth of the media and the platforms through which we advertise on it will blossom. Like trends seen in Japan, the mobile phone has replaced key technologies and has become, in some cases, the sole media by which to reach key demographics.

‘The impact will at first be seen in how people consume and use new media via a mobile interface – video, the Internet, purchasing, etc. As time spent, key uses and metrics increase, advertiser dollars will follow, helping to reshape our media landscape, in the same way it’s currently being changed by the Internet.’