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Moving beyond the banner

INthe 12 months since its launch, the subsidiary of L.A.'s Gorilla Nation that's focused on repping ad space on kid-oriented midtail websites has seen the ranks of its ad inventory swell from three to more than 20 sites, including the likes of Barbie.com and Marvelkids.com. According to recent ComScore numbers, the aggregated traffic on these URLs has surpassed 11 million unique visitors per month, and GNkids is now dipping into what it calls the 'mid-tail toolbox' to craft customized, immersive ad experiences that make typical banner and skyscraper ads look oh-so-1999.
November 25, 2008

INthe 12 months since its launch, the subsidiary of L.A.’s Gorilla Nation that’s focused on repping ad space on kid-oriented midtail websites has seen the ranks of its ad inventory swell from three to more than 20 sites, including the likes of Barbie.com and Marvelkids.com. According to recent ComScore numbers, the aggregated traffic on these URLs has surpassed 11 million unique visitors per month, and GNkids is now dipping into what it calls the ‘mid-tail toolbox’ to craft customized, immersive ad experiences that make typical banner and skyscraper ads look oh-so-1999.

‘Some clients want to go beyond the banner,’ says VP of sales Kyle Fletcher, adding that marketers are increasingly after full-on interaction. And to that end, Fletcher and his team have been crafting all manner of content-filled widgets that mimic the size and portability of standard web ads and integrated promotions.

On the widget side, GNkids got the ball rolling last May with an innovative solution created for LucasArts to promote its new Lego Indiana Jones video game. Housed in a standard-sized 300 x 250 ad unit, the expandable widget included four streams of customized content: the game trailer, wallpapers, icons and an application that allowed kids to upload their pictures and paste them into still frames from the game. GNkids then pushed the Indy widget out to its aggregated network of sites, and kids could access the content by clicking on the individual application buttons contained on the widget without having to download any programming onto their computers. In the month that the widget was up, Fletcher says its click-through rate was quadruple that of a same-size standard Flash ad.

In August, GNkids turned its attention to The Little Mermaid, and more specifically to Disney Studios Home Entertainment’s push to promote the launch of the direct-to-DVD prequel, The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Beginning. Disney wanted a campaign where its target demo could interact with Ariel and the story’s cast of characters, explains Fletcher. In this case, Disney designated Millsberry.com (one of GNkids’ first sites, now attracting 24 million registered users) as its chosen vehicle. From there, the agency created a microsite that integrated with the existing virtual world and social networking community already thriving on the site.

The Little Mermaid microsite gave Millsberry users a place to watch an extended DVD trailer, a call-out to push traffic to the official site, and more importantly, the ability to download Little Mermaid accessories for their existing avatars. The four collector’s items included Ariel’s hair, Triton’s beard, a mermaid tail and a T-shirt sporting a picture of aquatic sidekick Flounder. Millsberry members wound up downloading more than 700,000 of the virtual accessories in the first four days they were available on the site. GNkids then further reinforced the presence of Ariel and the gang by placing the movie’s trailer in the Millsberry screening room and setting up a rotating ad on the homepage to drive kids to the microsite.

Digital promotions of this type do take more time to get off the ground than standard ones, and there can be technical hurdles to jump. With The Little Mermaid avatar items, for example, time and effort had to be spent on making sure the giveaway accessories were compatible with all areas of the larger site and would remain in their new homes long after the promotion ended. But the turnaround time is surprisingly shorter than expected – as little as two months, notes Fletcher. LC

About The Author
Lana Castleman is the Editor & Content Director of Kidscreen and oversees all content for Kidscreen magazine, kidscreen.com and related kidscreen events. lcastleman@brunico.com

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