I commute to work on the MUNI (San Francisco’s municipal transit) and the BART (the bay area’s rapid transit), which means I see all the train station billboard ads. I have to admit, of all the ads I see in a day, these tend to be the best. And here’s a trend I’m seeing on the more successful ones: they include a new web address that starts with an action.

For example…

And the common threads…

  • With the exception of the first one on this list, you can’t always tell exactly what company is being advertised by looking at the URL.
  • The website is interactive and community-oriented.
  • The website is NOT the official company website.

And what are the benefits of this for the company?

  • There’s a good chance all the noun-based URLs they’d want to use are taken. Verbs are the next frontier.
  • By sending people to a campaign-specific website, they can monitor their campaign’s site traffic ROI without any confusion.
  • They’re being hip and sexy. Not everyone’s caught on to this strategy yet. The curious are going to check it out.

And what does this mean for the rest of us?

  • It’s okay to start using actions in your URLs. Starbucks is doing it. People will get it now.
  • Domain name opportunists may want to start looking into likely action-based URLs related to big companies. I misremembered “letsmeetatstarbucks” and instead tried meetmeatstarbucks.com . It took me to http://www.bixbymusic.com. Nice work, guys.
  • Billboard-to-web community-oriented marketing is being adapted with high visibility. Web 2.0 marketers, raise your rates!

Useful…

“People commit to a sale for three reasons, in this order: The first is chemistry — they have to like you. The second is your ability to solve their problem. The third is price.”

— Our Director of Strategy

Entertaining…

One of our clients turned to me at lunch and said, “You’re probably too young to remember the animated GIF, aren’t you?”