Tapping an increasingly common advertising vehicle, two package-goods brands will launch promotional minisites in April on CondeNet, a network of sites aimed at women. Kraft Foods and Kellogg Co.'s Special K Plus cereal are advertising on the network via minisites, co-branded sites-within-sites that provide original content and links to advertisers' own sites. Content will be labeled "advertising" or "promotional."
CondeNet is a division of Advance Internet; it's a subsidiary of Advance Publications, the parent of Conde Nast Publications. CondeNet sites include Phys (www.phys.com), Epicurious Food (www.epicurious.com), Concierge.com, Swoon (www.swoon.com) and Vogue.com.
THEME OF THE SEASON
Kraft's minisite launches April 7, kicking off a one-year deal in which the package-goods company will run six minisites on Epicurious Food with seasonal and holiday themes. They include Easter, summer, back-to-school, Hallow-een, Thanksgiving and December holidays. Modem Media, Norwalk, Conn., handles Kraft's online media.
Kraft has worked with Epicurious Food before, but this is the first seasonal series it's bought. Kraft's latest minisite, which uses customized content, is designed to drive traffic to and generate interest in the Kraft Interactive Kitchen at (www.kraftfoods.com). Financial terms were not disclosed.
STILL TOO EARLY IN THE GAME
Steve Tiberi, brand manager in Kraft's e-commerce division, said Kraft employs a range of online marketing methods such as minisites. But it also uses interstitials, banners and rich-media campaigns.
"It's still so early in the game here, so there's still a lot of learning to be done," Mr. Tiberi said.
While he endorses minisites as a way to market online, he said they have yet to prove themselves as the most effective form of online ads.
"It's a more flexible (advertising) platform, but there is really no strong call to action on minisites" like there is on banners, he said.
SPECIAL K PLUS SITE LAUNCHING
Kraft plans to run a similar minisite on African-American portal BET.com in April. It also has run minisites on FoodTV.com and Women.com since 1998.
Special K Plus' new minisite launches April 12 and will run on Phys and Epicurious Food through July. Special K Plus' deal includes banners, created by CondeNet with quizzes on Phys and Epicurious Food that link to the minisite, (www.specialk.com).
Special K Plus ran a minisite on CondeNet in September following the product's August launch. Special K Plus also plans to run minisites on Women.com Networks and OnHealth.com.
A spokeswoman for Special K Plus said the brand's September minisite generated a high click-through rate, just under 2%, and the results contributed to Special K Plus' decision to run another minisite starting in April.
A GOOD VEHICLE FOR THE BRAND
CondeNet was also a good vehicle to highlight the brand.
"We were attracted to Phys because it is very targeted to women who seek a healthy lifestyle. [This was] a very cost-effective, targeted way to reach our audience," she said.
CondeNet is pitching 10 other advertisers in the food, automotive and athletic equipment categories to develop minisites. It has already created minisites for advertisers including Coty U.S., Toyota Motor Sales USA and Procter & Gamble Co.'s Head & Shoulders shampoo.
CondeNet prides itself on separating editorial from advertising. It creates the content for the minisites and labels it appropriately.
"We want people to know exactly what they are looking at," said Sarah Chubb, director of CondeNet. "If we are trading on our authority, we don't ever want the consumer wondering where the content came from.
"Getting people to click on Internet advertising is getting more and more difficult. We always thought the minisite kept advertising relevant," Ms. Chubb said.
But while consumers interact with brands for a longer period of time, minisites are more expensive, she said, adding that only one in 10 CondeNet advertisers who have been pitched on the idea decide to develop minisites.
Copyright March 2000, Crain Communications Inc.