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Samsung Dives Into Online Marketing

Samsung Electronics America spent virtually nothing on the Internet last year. This year, it intends to splurge more than $5 million on online marketing calculated to yield 350 million impressions a month across the Web.

The online effort is part of an overall $400 million worldwide television, radio, print and outdoor campaign taglined “DigitAll Experience. Everyone's invited.” It aims to reposition Samsung as a serious player in digital convergence and possibly unseat rival Sony Corp. from dominance in U.S. consumer electronics.

“It simply means that we understand the value of the demographics of adoption in a new generation of the knowledge economy,” said Peter Weedfald, vice president of strategic marketing and new media at Samsung Electronics America, Ridgefield Park, NJ.

Developed by advertising agency Foote, Cone & Belding, the Samsung television campaign will focus on how the marketer's portfolio of products meets changing needs of consumers.

Similarly, online, print and billboards ads, created by Samsung-owned Cheil Communications America, will deliver specific offers. Online tactics include sponsorships, banners, coupons, sweepstakes, real-time audio and video, interstitials and channel-related Web offers.

“We want to build affinity and direct opportunities,” Weedfald said.

The South Korean marketer has bought media on 57 major Web sites. The list includes CNET, Forbes.com, Fortune.com, BusinessWeek.com, CNN.com, CBS.SportsLine.com, CarandDriver.com, Elle.com, roadandtrack.com, premiere.com, people.com, dealerscope.com, pcmag.com and pcworld.com.

Sites of popular radio stations are also part of the media plan.

The choice of sites was not as straightforward as it seems.

After research and analysis of the market opportunities, Weedfald matched that information with the various Samsung divisions, their products and their typical distribution channels. Then he met with the respective division heads and sales and marketing executives to understand their objectives for the year.

Weedfald married the learning from such conversations with the targeted sites' impressions and unique traffic numbers to craft a strategy.

Advertising units on these sites cover a variety of banner sizes with templates for 18 programs. So Samsung had readied banners for Father's Day, Fourth of July, Christmas and New Year's, to name a few. All that needs to be done is insert the pertinent product.

“The placements mostly are above-the-fold, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year,” Weedfald said. “This is 100 percent static, staid, nobody has parity with Samsung 24 hours a day on the home page [of the sites running the ads].”

Creative in 12 to 14 executions will tout products in the convergence, entertainment and mobile areas. Featured products include LCD cell phones, portable DVD players, set-top boxes, MP3 players, CD-ROMs, LCD monitors, home theater systems, digital TV sets and an Internet fridge.

Samsung currently is asking consumers to click through on banners and buttons to gain information on the new plasma screen TV or to buy via Sprint the latest Samsung cell phone.

Unlike Sony's SonyStyle.com venture, Samsung has little intention of adding e-commerce to its manufacturing role.

Weedfald said it is difficult to sell products directly as a single manufacturer.

“The reason Home Depot works,” he said, “is the large emporium of different choices of brands and products. Same with Best Buy, same with Sears.”

In many instances, Samsung will ask consumers to submit contact information for more personalized marketing.

This permission-based marketing will come into its own as Samsung next month begins integrating various retail partners in the online marketing programs. Weedfald claims he has the addresses and ZIP codes of every store in the United States that sells Samsung products.

“I can match that to anyone in my database of opt-in permission-based e-mail addresses so that I can actually deliver targeted offers,” he said.

Until last year, Samsung had no consumer e-mail database to speak of. While Weedfald would not disclose the current size of the database, he expects it to grow exponentially because of this campaign.

“We're hoping that we're building something here that we can repeat year after year,” he said.

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