Superstitials Snare Most Leads for Nextel

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Telecom marketer Nextel Communications Inc. is relying extensively on Unicast Superstitials for online lead generation after a highly successful third-quarter campaign.


Superstitials, online ads of 20 to 25 seconds that play like a television spot, accounted for 85 percent of the 75,000 convertible leads generated in the third-quarter campaign. The campaign by One to One Interactive touted Nextel's i85s, i50sx and i2000 phones, accessories and rate plans.


"Because the buying cycle is longer for this type of product than it is for, say, a CD or a book, the Superstitial allows us to tell the story of Nextel and engage the user about who Nextel is and what they have to offer before they actually make the purchase," said Stephanie Rogers, relationship manager at One to One Interactive, Boston.


Not only that, but the Superstitials garnered a $9 cost per lead, versus $67 for the banner and $8 for e-mail.


The Superstitials ran on sites including ESPN.com, thestreet.com, smartmoney.com, intellicast.com, weather.com and maximonline.com. Roughly 20 Superstitials with 70 creative executions promoted the various cell phones and offers.


"Obviously we want to pique the interest of that audience on a particular site, so the site itself is taken into consideration as well as the offer," Rogers said, referring to the tailored creative.


The call to action across all ad units was simple. Consumers who clicked on the Nextel ad were taken to a landing page on www.nextel.com for more information. If convinced, consumers clicked on a Shop@Nextel button for access to the online store or on the "Call Me" button and entered a phone number for a company representative to call.


"We utilize tracer technology by [DoubleClick's] DART in our serving and tracking on our site," Rogers said. "We have dozens of pages on our site, if not hundreds, where DART tracers follow the path of those people who click on an ad, and that's how we measure our leads."


Nextel has used Superstitials since last year. But the ad unit's performance sparkled so much this year that it now accounts for nearly 90 percent of Nextel's media weight.


"We have a very strict optimization methodology that we go through, so while we may roll out a variety of ad units at the beginning of the quarter, if they're not meeting our predetermined cost per lead, they get cut out from the plan," Rogers said. "And that is what ultimately leads us to having almost a purely Superstitial buy, because that's the one ad unit that consistently delivers the results we're looking for."


Based in New York, Superstitial creator Unicast was recently granted two patents for its technology. One is called Dynamic Tag Generation, and the other Polite Ad Delivery. Both stress Unicast's thinking that ads should not interfere with user navigation or disrupt the site's content flow.


Though Nextel is a big user of Superstitials online, it advertises across all media. Broadcast TV and radio, direct mail, outdoor and print all direct consumers to 1-800-NEXTEL-9 or nextel.com. Online, however, the company is reducing its reliance on ad units that do not measure up.


With banners for the third-quarter campaign, for example, the sole media buy was on ESPN.com.


"What has happened in the history of online advertising is that anything that has worked, the industry has killed because they just push it too hard, and banners fell under that spell," said Larry Everling, director of Web sales at Nextel. "E-mails, to a certain degree, fell under that spell, too. So Superstitials are not running across somebody's desktop every page they flip through on, say, ESPN.


"Superstitials employ sight, sound and motion, and the length of message allows us to explain what often is a complex story," Everling said. "[It allows] us to differentiate why our plans are better than competitors, why our phones are better."


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