Article marketing with a hammer.

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Labor day weekend is typically set aside for BBQs, beach trips and hard labor around the house. If you’re like me, you’ll be slotting in some time for do-it-yourself repairs and a trip to the hardware store. Before heading out, you can bet I’ll do a little research and scan some “How-To” articles on the Internets to get me in the mood. Intelligent online marketing companies like Ace Hardware are hoping to catch folks like me online this weekend. In a recent press release , Ace Hardware will partner up with open content network company Associated Content to deliver rich media, banners and auto-play video in context with do-it-yourself articles. According to the press release, targeted advertising will display in conjunction with articles that cover the following topics: “How to Replace Your Shower Head,” “Build Shelves to Organize Your Closet,” “Trendy Outdoor Accessories For Fall,” “Outdoor Lighting Fixtures for Your Patio,” and “How to Lay a Brick Patio.” How smart is that? I can see how this can be an effective method and may attract potential customers by advertising to them at the right time and place. Compare this with a traditional TV media buy. Let’s say you’re watching football this weekend on the boob tube and on comes an Ace Hardware commercial. Not only are you not thinking about diy-type projects, but your mind is probably focused on what kind of cold cuts are left in the fridge. Targeting your advertising and coat-tailing them on to content-rich articles is both unobtrusive and relevant. But are these banners enough to get your attention? I visited Associated Content and did a search for three of the articles just to have a look-see at the campaign. On two of the pages, the articles were surrounded by various branded Ace banners; both static and interactive. The interactive banner on top was activated with a rollover. What I thought was impressive is the use of rollover technology to give the user a mini-shopping site experience. The banner in the left hand area of the article offered video tips when clicking on the “helpful video tips” button right in the banner. The banners also display relevant products that take you to the e-commerce site for that product when clicked on. I thought it was pretty seamless and effortless. In the third article, a nested video played in the left column of the article. It was simple and caught my eye. The best part of the experience was that it felt right for the brand. Ace Hardware uses the tagline “The Helpful Place” and it seems to fit right into their current strategy. Advertising to me while I am looking for information on how to fix a shower head or laying a brick patio is helpful. But will this campaign be effective? I appreciated the fact that I got something out of it besides a hard sell, so I think it will be a successful campaign for them. But for me, I wouldn’t mind a little more creativity. If it were up to me, I’d work a little more on the creative to make it fun like this one for Lego Star Wars. But then Ace Hardware would have to change their tagline to “The Fun Place” , and that may not fly over at corporate.

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