Sometimes, the best advertisements are the ones you don’t even know are there. We all know seamless advertising, from baseball drop-ins “Phelps painted the corner, painting at the corners is sponsored by CertaPro Painters” to the more subtle product integration.
Seamless advertising works because it’s impossible to tune out. In an age of DVRs and online ad-blocking, the best ads are the ones that are seamlessly part of the programming itself.
Let’s take a look at five of our favorite examples of seamless advertising.
#1 Native Advertising
We’ve also talked about native advertising before. Generally, native advertising just means any form of ad that is “native” to its host. Online and in print, that usually means paid-for editorials that blend in with regular content. On radio, it could include some of our aforementioned drop-ins, but also dedicated promotional segments and stories by radio personalities.
Altitude’s “Meet the Bermudans” campaign is one great example. Not only did we host a competition to send lucky listeners to the island paradise, but we sent our personalities to Bermuda to talk about the great vacationing opportunities.
#2 Sponsored Plays
Sponsored play, or drop-ins to the advertising crowd, are a huge source of revenue for sports radio. They’re incredibly effective, you might not even know they’re there. Sponsored plays are great because they don’t interrupt the game like regular advertisements do. They are short, concise and inoffensive. And with more and more people tuning out “standard” advertising, drop-ins are becoming a priceless investment.
One great example, according to Richard Sandomir from the New York Times: “Phelps painted the corner,” the Yankees radio announcer said, describing a strikeout pitch. “Painting at the corners is sponsored by CertaPro Painters. Because painting is personal.”
Drop-ins for the Yankees alone can amount to $13 million dollars.
#3 News and Weather
For the millions of Americans stuck in morning traffic, the radio serves as a lifeline for news, information and entertainment. And, as we’ve harked on before, there’s no better advertising than a message that provides useful information to its audience. That’s why the “News and weather brought to you by” is one of the oldest drop-ins in radio marketing.
For example, we worked closely with Allstate on the “Good Hands” traffic report. We went above and beyond than a simple “brought to you by Allstate.” When stalled cars were causing traffic, for instance, the traffic announcer mentioned that the stalled car could have used Allstate’s Roadside Assistance. You can read more about that campaign here.
#4 Active Product Placement
Product placement has been around for decades for one simple reason: it works. But it’s not all created the same. Whenever you see a character on your favorite show drinking a particular brand of cola, driving a suspiciously flashy car (in the case of AMC’s “The Walking Dead”) or dropping in at their favorite chain restaurant, chances are that a savvy brand marketer was involved.
The best marketing integration is passive. It’s there, but in the background. It works in part because we, as humans, like to emulate our favorite protagonists. Passive product placement accomplishes this subconsciously.
But active product placement is a more “in your face” approach. Whereas it may, somehow, be possible to ignore the proliferation of GM cars in Michael Bay’s blockbuster series “Transformers,” active product placement is far more vocal. One of the easiest ways companies accomplish this is a simple “brought to you by.”
For any fan of NBC’s “The Voice,” it would hard to miss drop-ins for Samsung products, particularly the “S Beam” functionality used by the hosts and participants to easily transfer files from one phone to the other.
And when catching up on the morning news with MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” is “brewed by Starbucks” on the title screen. Starbucks cups litter the desks of the “Morning Joe” crew, which gently remind caffeine addicts and those non-morning people what would really hit the spot as they get ready for work.
#5 Endorsements and Sponsorships
To be fair, many of the items on the list could be qualified as endorsements. Shows and segments on radio that are “brought to you by” are one great example. But there is plenty that don’t fit neatly into this category. Nascar, Monster Energy and other brands cater to the “skater” or “extreme sports” crowd have flourished by cornering the 18-25 market.
This demographic also correlates heavily to specific music genres, leading to a whole host of bands, concerts, and music festivals to be sponsored by brands catering to their age group.
Of course, these categories are not cut and dry. They, more often than not, blend into each other. Successful marketing is often a combination of multiple strategies, wherein native advertising is complimented by an endorsement or active product placement is complimented by its passive counterpart.