Target uses integrated digital advertising on TV

Most of my friends DVR their favorite TV shows, though not because they’re so busy they can’t watch them live. They just want to be able to fast forward through the commercials. For advertising professionals looking to reach their target audience through television this is becoming a major problem.

But Target, a company I’ve always considered ahead of the curve in their marketing efforts, may have discovered a new tactic for TV advertising, one that is engaging, interactive and not as tempting to fast forward through.

Last week, Target sponsored an entire episode of the hit ABC show Revengeaccording to an article on B2C. But Target didn’t run typical spots. Each commercial break featured ads about Target’s new Nieman Marcus holiday collection – in the form of a narrative titledThe Gift of Revenge. No matter where you watched the show (on TV, on the web, etc.) you saw the exact same ads.

Target also asked for input from the Revenge team to make sure that fans of the show would enjoy the ads. By mimicking the show, including the characters and using a narrative format, Target was able to grab the audience’s attention and keep it throughout the span of the “story.”


Wisely, Target didn’t limit its scope to just TV. They employed social media to allow users to discuss the episode and the commercials, and even posted the clips on YouTube with “secret” footage that wasn’t a part of the show’s run.

Could this be a new way for marketers to reach viewers who would normally avoid commercials? B2C’s Jacey Gulden thinks so.

“A campaign that integrates television advertising, branded content, and online marketing certainly could reflect the future of digital advertising.”

An integrated campaign like this one requires an enormous amount of time, commitment, creativity and money. But if that’s what it takes so that viewers don’t hit the fast forward button, we may start seeing it more often. Plus, you can bet that ABC made a good amount of money on this deal.

Another key point is that marketers must ensure that their ads are not grounded in just one medium. Target’s campaign had multiple, cohesive elements that functioned digitally, social and on mobile platforms.

To find out more about Target’s experimental approach to digital advertising, check out an interview with Target’s Chief Marketing Officer over at AdAge.

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