Online Forum Advertising (With a Twist)

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Does advertising within social media environments such as forums sound appealing? For many marketers it does but the problem is that those wanting to actively participate in the word-of-mouth conversations occurring are often called out as spammers thanks to often poorly disguised commercial messages.

PostRelease, launched by Cie Studios today, hopes to change that by enabling companies (through advertising) to reach audiences at the point where opinions are being formed and buying decisions made - on the forums. Companies can insert posts that contain relevant content into targeted online forum discussions using the automated system.

PostRelease posts can include text, pictures, hyperlinks and links to video. The posts are clearly marked as from PostRelease, and they remain in the lead position (toward the top of the post list page) of selected forum discussion categories for seven days. Once released from the top position, the post remains part of the forum discussion. These posts are archived as forum content, so they continue to generate responses after a campaign ends.

From the release: The approach is automated but audited – all posts are reviewed to ensure the content is relevant to the discussion topic. It is this quality control that sets PostRelease apart from banner and text ads: in its year-long beta, PostRelease click-through rates averaged 33 percent, with highs reaching nearly 90 percent.

By the looks of the PostRelease forum network, over 100 publishers are using the system, although it seems to be focused primarily on the automotive industry at the moment. I see a lot of potential in solutions like these for forum owners/publishers.

“Forums are where the real product conversations happen – they’re the uncut diamonds of the social web,” said Justin Choi, founder and president of Cie Studios. “Forums are an ideal place for marketers and consumers to meet, because product conversations are not intrusive, they’re integral. We’ve created a solution that enables companies to insert relevant information, helps consumers learn more about products they’re already discussing and gives forum owners a much-needed source of revenue.”

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PesiU 09-18-2009 3:52 PM

I wonder if the ad posts are seen as coming from PostRealease or from the advertisor themselves? If its the latter, they can still be perceived as spammers.

I agree that forums and blogs are ideal meeting places for advertisors and consumers - in fact very often, I have looked for product information from a fellow consumer on a blog - however, as an advertisor I have sometimes been accused of being spam! I guess it all depends on how the individual blog viewer perceives you and/or your info value...

Jennifer from PostRelease 09-30-2009 2:05 PM

Hi – I am with PostRelease and just want to help answer your question. The posts are posted under the username: PostRelease. The post is clearly labeled that is an approved sponsored post and that the content has been provided by an advertiser. The content within the post must be useful and relevant to the discussion category and forum.  Our goal is to be transparent and relevant. This approach has been effective.  Over the hundreds of posts we’ve inserted, we’ve averaged 33 percent click-through rates.  I hope that answers your question.

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