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CRITIQUE: There are several ways to lure Web surfers to a marketing site. Good content, flashy design, catchy ad banners and games have all passed muster. But one tried and true tactic still wears the crown: Free stuff.

MSNBC had the content (how could they not?). They were launching a re-design to spruce up their design and navigability. Yet they were savvy enough to realize that this wasn't going to be enough to pull in the kind of traffic they wanted. So they launched a large, back-to-the-basics giveaway to draw visitors to their site daily and get them to become habitual users. And for the most part, the daily prizes aren't anything huge. They're the type of software and hardware that all geeks crave, but might not have actually bought.

It's not too costly for the marketer (exact numbers weren't available), but it gets the job done. A couple years ago one agency's site was just giving away junk they had lying around their office (I got a Hollywood slate key chain).

Quantum Leap is getting the word out with print, TV and banner ads. The banners tie in nicely with the new MSNBC look, and come in various flavors of tech (animated GIF, Java, etc.) The agency reports the campaign is exceeding all expectations, although specific figures from MSNBC weren't available.

On the whole, it ties together well and shows that the "free stuff" engine still has the power to drive traffic.

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