RadioShack picks Prism model to launch health-care products

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RadioShack is set to introduce its first line of health-related electronic products, and selected Prism Media Networks, a company with a new online ad model, to help it reach out to customers who might not think of RadioShack as the place to buy blood-pressure gauges.

Prism's platform, Concert Banners, allows marketers to trade on the cachet of leading publishers' content, used as an enticement to get consumers to click through to RadioShack's Web site introducing the LifeWise product line, which includes air purifiers, cardio-fitness devices and body mass index calculators. The banners, which go live Oct. 19 with RadioShack's ads, will feature branded editorial content from CMP Media, Dow Jones & Co.'s Wall Street Journal and Rodale.

The publishers are compensated on a revenue-sharing model. While Prism declined to offer specifics of the revenue-sharing, it said it signed an agreement with one company whereby the participating publisher stands to generate up to $500,000 for a one-year program using their content by licensing arrangement.

"By allowing companies to take branded content and put it in a banner, advertisers can cut through clutter," said Tom Mannion, chairman-CEO, Prism Media Networks. "We can take the content that has already proven to be valuable and interesting to an audience ... and give the content a new life," Mr. Mannion said.

For example, consumers browsing MSN's health channel will see a skyscraper ad bearing the Prevention logo and a story related to personal health. By clicking on the headline, they are brought to the LifeWise site (lifewiseonline.com).

building credibility

The launch will be supported by a multimedia campaign created by CircleR, RadioShack's in-house agency; offline media is handled by Carat USA. Carat Interactive, Boston and Dallas, handles online media. "Concert allows us to build that credibility and positive brand awareness and it frees up a lot of cash for us to buy media cheaper and still get the sponsorship effect," said Steven Ustaris, associate media director, Carat Interactive. The online media budget for LifeWise is less than $1 million. The ads are rich media-enabled with Pointroll; metrics will be tracked by Bluestreak.

While Rodale has actively pursued licensing opportunities in recent years, including newspaper syndication and licensing content to Web sites, "This specific form of content licensing is a new revenue stream for us," said Stanley Weil, director-worldwide licensing, Rodale. The company and Prism declined to specify terms of the revenue-sharing deal. Rodale said it has a year-long deal.

As publishers continue to struggle in a difficult advertising climate, alternative revenue streams continue to take on greater importance. "Publishers are reaching out for ways to monetize what they do," said Martin S. Walker, Walker Communications, a New York-based publishing consultant.

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