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Jan 08, 2009
Case Study

Keep Users Tied to Your Website while Driving Traffic to Ad Partners: Win-Win Tactics

SUMMARY: Many content sites sell ads that drive traffic to their advertisers’ websites. But that relationship can make it difficult to keep users at home or bring them back to your site.

Discover how a marketer at a niche site created a winning scenario that brought their users back after pushing traffic to their ad partners. Includes co-branded ad samples, community store and stats.

Matt Palmer, Executive VP and GM, Stardoll, has a niche audience. Stardoll is a “virtual paper doll dress-up” community that appeals primarily to pre-teen and teen girls.

Last March, Palmer and his team wanted to launch a campaign promoting an advertising partner’s movie. But Palmer wanted to avoid typical ads that drove traffic to the partner’s site and away from Stardoll.

Instead, Palmer created a win-win situation for Stardoll and the partner. He envisioned a campaign that added to the Stardoll experience while simultaneously directing traffic to the partner’s site.


Palmer’s advertising partner was working to promote Nim’s Island – a movie that targeted Stardoll’s demographic. Palmer’s team integrated several elements of the movie with the Stardoll site to keep users on his homepage while introducing them to the movie.

“We created an activity that enhances [their] brand and adds value to the Stardoll experience. That’s where the win-win happens,” Palmer says.

Here are the six ways they integrated the movie with Stardoll:

1. Sold movie clothes from store

Stardoll’s audience is very interested in fashion. One of the primary reasons girls visit the site is to dress up digital avatars with trendy "clothes". Some of the clothes are free; others are sold at Star Plaza, where they can be bought with Star Dollars.

Leveraging this interest, Palmer and his team took fashions from the movie and created a new store for them in Star Plaza. Users could buy outfits shown in the movie to dress up their personal avatars. This satisfied their users’ core reason for visiting Stardoll.

2. Added movie images to photo gallery

A “mood book,” or photo gallery, of 10 movie images was added to the co-branded store.

3. Added clip from movie to cinema

A three-minute clip of the movie was added to Stardoll Cinema – a portion of the site that regularly features video clips of interest to girls.

4. Ran article in Stardoll news site

A homepage ad pointed to an article in The Voice, Stardoll’s editorial outlet. The ad mentioned that a “secret AMAZING gift” was available. The story included a flyer that linked to the external Nim’s Island website. (See samples below)

5. Drove traffic back to website with code for gift

Ads throughout Stardoll drove traffic to a landing page on the Nim’s Island site. Users could watch the movie’s trailer and receive a special code. Users were instructed to bring the code back to Star Plaza for a secret gift. At the plaza, users received Star Dollars and an image of Selkie the Sea Lion, a movie character, to add to their personal Stardoll spaces.

“We were able to drive traffic to [the Nim’s site], but it also sent it right back to us after they explored their site and got the secret code and brought it back.”

Most of the ads driving traffic to the Nim’s Island site did not mention the code. Palmer’s team let the community find out for itself through word of mouth and by viewing the sea lion in other members’ spaces.

6. Used co-branded ads

Co-branded ads were used throughout Stardoll’s site. Units included large display ads in the upper-left portion of the homepage above the fold (see samples below). Palmer calls them “puffs” and says they’re “our most powerful promotional unit.” Right-side skyscrapers were also used throughout the site.

The ads either drove traffic to the Nim’s Island store in Stardoll or to the partner’s website.


Using the code to bring users back to Stardoll after they left the site for the movie’s site worked very well, Palmer says. The results:
o 33% took the link back to Star Plaza
o 5% took the link to Nim’s main site
o 38% clicked to close their browser

“I think it’s fair to also attribute a larger percentage of the ‘exits’ to the fact they had Stardoll open in a separate window and simply closed the Nim’s site once they got the code. I would safely assume that 60% plus of the visitors returned to Stardoll from this page to complete the promotion.”

Other stats:
o 2.74% of store visitors clicked the “mood book” to view images
o .26% of homepage visitors clicked to read the editorial
o 3.92% of readers clicked the editorial’s link to visit the Nim’s site

“Getting your hands on Selkie the Sea Lion, Nim’s clothing and playing in that environment added to the Stardoll users’ experience, as well as extended the brand of the movie and drove traffic to their site,” Palmer says.

Useful links related to this article:

Stardoll’s Nim’s Island Campaign Creative Samples:

Nim’s Island


See Also:

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