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Dotcoms Do Cable TV: How Portals Turn To Cable to Win Customers

Written on
Jun 2, 2006 
Author
Lucas Donat  |

Drama. Suspense. And lots and lots of comedy. No, this isn’t a cable network programming schedule. This is your story. Every company—whether based online or offline—has a story to tell. If you tell your story effectively, you’ll win customers.

And there’s no better story-telling advertising medium than television.

Several successful dot.coms are turning to the tube—like eHarmony.com, Progressive.com, Geico.com, Expedia.com, Lendingtree.com and many more. In fact, the overlap of new and traditional media, the blending of online and offline, is an increasingly popular topic within advertising circles. Today’s crop of more mature, more ROI-driven Internet businesses appreciates television’s ability to combine brand-building with sales-driven advertising for an approach that offers tangible and measurable ROI—precisely the winning combination that was missing before the dot.com bubble burst.

But what makes them successful is something that can’t be accomplished by merely slapping a URL onto a television ad and hoping potential customers will be inspired to go online. As with any traditional television advertiser, dot.coms must harness the power that television wields over every other advertising medium: its distinctive ability to create an emotional connection.

Take Register.coma company that offers a suite of online services to help small businesses grow. It’s targeting entrepreneursa group of people who have a lot at stake. To design a campaign that would connect with this audience, Register.com needed to reach beyond its product-specific messages to identify the overarching emotional need it meets for its customers.

For Register.com’s audience, it all boils down to this: there are few things more terrifying than starting your own business. So the company created a campaign that conveys its understanding of the stress its customers experience. It used testimonials from actual entrepreneurs to infuse the advertising campaign with an emotional element that the audience can relate to.

As a result, Register.com’s brand and its sales of services like Web site creation, Web hosting and e-mail have grown. The company has built a sustainable brand as the place for “everything you need to succeed online,” through an advertising campaign that positions it as a business partner for small business owners.





Lucas Donat is a founding partner of Donat/Wald, a leader in ROI-positive advertising. The agency has helped move more than a billion dollars through the economy while building nationally known brands, with campaigns for eHarmony.com, Register.com, Hotwire.com, Mattel Toys, Columbia, MGM/UA and more.

Reader Comments.

Hi Lucas,

Happy Friday!

I couldn’t agree more that cable advertising allows targeting to the right demographic and allows powerful emotional tie ins.

We used cable in our appliance store and went from a start up to the top store in our market in just under 10 years. This is a very competitive field based largely on the lowest price model. Our pitch was peace of mind, service and family values versus always the lower price. We won the market domination battle and I sold the business in search of other mountains to climb.

Coincidentally I ended up selling cable ads for the #1 MSO in the #20 market.

What frustrated me was the lack of searchable programming information as a seller working for the largest cable company in the country.

I felt strongly back in 2000 that if I could search for every Romantic Comedy and Romance Movie on cable plus all the shows on TLC, HGTV and Food that were specifically about remodeling or updating the kitchen, I would have the most efficient use of the advertising dollar for an appliance store just like I had owned.

Likewise if I could convey to the marketing director at the local Native American Casino every time the words casino, gambling, poker etc. were mentioned in the cable TV listing and description for the next couple of months, I would be one of their most valued and efficient advertising resources. (AD CUT OUT)

Posted by Dave Hardy | 2:17 pm on June 2, 2006.

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