What do pop siren Britney Spears, teen group ‘N Sync and the CBS summer TV hit show Survivor have in common?
Besides record sales and impressive ratings among the coveted 18 to 34 demographic, all were helped by successful online promotional campaigns that launched this spring using viral pop-up e-mails developed by MindArrow Systems.
Formerly known as eCommercial.com, the Aliso Viejo, Calif.-based Internet marketing company with 85 employees has created a mini-Web browser with built-in video graphics and interactivity that is delivered via e-mail as a self-playing attachment.
The rich-media e-mail, which includes a telephone link, messaging, chat, audio, animation, questionnaires, surveys and hyperlinks, allows advertisers and marketers to target specific recipients for upcoming promotions or product releases.
MindArrow clients include Nissan, Jive Records, Fox Entertainment Group, Sony Pictures and Columbia/Tristar, among others.
In late May, New York-based CBS targeted nearly 29,000 select viewers with Internet access, e-mailing a 30-second video trailer and links surrounding the Survivor premiere.
While an overall response rate from users who actually opened the file and watched the video approached 25 percent, almost 60 percent of total viewers (6,500) received the e-mail from a friend or colleague, according to Tom Blakeley, CEO of MindArrow.
“With average clickthroughs and those interacting with it at 77 percent, you had people playing the video almost twice,” said Blakeley.
In addition, Blakeley said 45 percent of the average viewers linked to the Survivor Web site, while 7 percent linked to CBS.com and 38 percent forwarded the e-mail.
Despite the above-average response for an Internet campaign, Blakeley isn’t positive his e-mail program is soley responsible for diverting some of America’s attention away from Who Wants to be a Millionaire to a group of 16 contestants pitted against nature and each other for $1 million on a remote tropical island off the coast of Borneo.
“I think the Survivor concept is pretty compelling on its own,” he said. “It’s really hard to say. CBS obviously took an integrated marketing approach.”
The early success of Survivor can probably be attributed to many factors, not the least of which are money and voyeurism, according to Michele Slack, a senior analyst at New York-based Jupiter Communications.
“It’s very much a chicken or the egg type of situation,” she said. “If the show isn’t buzzworthy, the e-commercial would have been difficult to propel into the limelight. Since it was, the e-mail definitely [helped], but it wasn’t independent of that.”
Slack said companies increasingly want to tap into online browsers who are considered opinion leaders and influencers in the entertainment realm.
“This isn’t the first time or the last time that a company is going to pre-promote a show via e-mail,” she said.