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Reaping the rewards of tailor-made platforms

In a cluttered media environment, the online marketing industry has shown that innovation and targeted messaging are what yield results. With this in mind, the growing trends of custom content and native advertising have been making waves internationally. And locally, the adoption of these trends can clearly be seen through the pioneering microsite concept that was introduced by and The SpaceStation.
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The SpaceStation, one of Africa's leading digital media sales agencies, along with digital publisher, successfully introduced this unique digital concept in November 2012. Since then the micro-sites, affectionately known as 'pop-up sites' have shown astounding results for the platforms and clients. These stand alone, tailor-made microsites are developed to deliver new and relevant content to South African users as well as provide a powerful platform that advertisers can 'own'. Each microsite has a specific theme, allowing brands to cut through the clutter and exclusively align with content that meets their branding requirements.

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The concept was launched in November 2012 with Men's Month, which was owned by Nivea. Following the success of Men's Month, the agency launched several microsites including Summer 2012 (for KFC), Green (for Pick n Pay), Paws (for Montego Karoo), Homegrown (for Gumtree), Home (for Trellidor) and Kickstart 2014 (Gumtree). In November 2013, Men's Month returned due to 2012's massive success, and again provided massive reach and exposure for Nivea.

Each microsite runs for approximately a month and is exclusively owned by one client. The content is a combination of syndication from other platforms, bespoke content created for the platform, very active user generated content (one of the reasons behind the high levels of engagement) and stories developed by the client.

Unusual for the industry, these microsites offer guaranteed traffic of about 100,000 unique browsers and 500,000 page impressions which are driven from News24 and the other websites. So essentially, even if users do not click through to the microsite they are still exposed to the brand via some of the biggest online platforms in the country.

"Media brands are fighting for a slice of a very competitive pie," says Gustav Goosen, CEO of The SpaceStation. "This is why we are continuously finding ways to create fresh platforms, provide innovative opportunities and new audiences. The development of brand owned content platforms was and is strategic," he adds. Goosen goes on to say that in order for brand owned (advertising) content to work it should not only to be transparent, it must also offer value to the reader.

It is becoming clear that brands are looking at online advertising from a new perspective - one that embraces the editorial concept and combines it with high levels of engagement and content that is owned, relevant and appropriate. With this powerful combination it is easy to see why these sites have shown such great results and return on investment.

Posted on 25 Feb 2014 11:12