This story was written by David Kaplan.
Time.com hopes to leverage the popularity of its Facebook, Twitter and YouTube pages with advertisers by crafting co-branded sponsorships. Technology and engineering company Siemens is the first advertiser to try out Time.com’s “Stay Connected” program, which includes placement on the company’s social media outposts on those sites. The only social media site Time will be sharing revenue with is YouTube. John Cantarella, GM of Time.com, told paidContent, “The impressions in this campaign are on Time.com and we are only giving the sponsor a presence on TIMEs Facebook and Twitter pages—where it has 72,000 fans and about 1.4 million followers, respectively—as part of the overall campaign.”
Cantarella isn’t making big promises that the largely experimental effort will increase Time.com’s online ad revenue by much at first. The company is pitching “Stay Connected” to clients as a way of targeting a more influential audience. “We want to show how we can track users who come to Time.com from our Twitter and Facebook pages and how we can get advertisers’ messages in front of those users,” Cantarella said. “They’re not always the typical Time.com reader. These are in many cases a new audience for us and for the advertisers.”
The placements are fairly subtle. On Twitter, the words “Sponsored by Siemens” are integrated all over the background on Time.com’s page, while on Facebook, the sponsorship mention is in an area under the photos of other Time fans. The idea was developed and executed fairly quickly, Cantarella said. About a month ago, he and his team were trying to figure out some custom programs for advertisers like Siemens and decided to find a way to use Time.com’s own social media real estate. “The ads are being put in places where we ask users to take an action: fan us on Facebook, watch our videos on YouTube. They’re not just passively seeing a brand message. They’re much more engaged.”
Aside from building ad revenue, Time.com hopes that the effort will support its bid to raise its social media profile and get Facebook and Twitter users to visit the site more often. For 2009 so far, the average monthly unique visitors is approximately 7 million, according to Nielsen Online. Unique visitors increased more than 40 percent from July 2008 to July 2009, but Nielsen has changed its methodology and increased the size of its panels, so the comparison isn’t perfect.
By David Kaplan