Verby to Viral: New Trends in URLs and Marketing

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!
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3 Responses to “Verby to Viral: New Trends in URLs and Marketing”

  1. social-creature » Blog Archive » teaching a new web strategy old tricks Says:

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  2. Daniel Widrew Says:

    a) one of my pet peeves is companies/people buying up 96378 urls for essentially the same thing. starbucks does not need a bazillion sites. they need starbucks.com, and on there they can include all the content they please and url it any way they please, but keep it on the damn site. you don’t need to make 5 new sites every time you invent a new version of coffee.
    while “letsmeetatstarbucks” has limited outside utility, i’ve seen a lot of really good urls get wasted on a redirect to some company’s homepage, or a repetition of what you can already find on that homepage. using letsmeet.starbucks.com, or starbucks.com/letsmeet would work just as well for monitoring traffic (tho i have no clue what ROI means, aside from king in french)
    and while it’s not THE official company website, it’s still AN official company website, with all that entails.
    b) not being able to tell what is advertized by the url/ad is not hip and sexy, it’s obnoxious and insulting. if i see a great ad and follow the link and find out it’s for shoes or something, i think that company has just wasted my time by not being upfront. like those 6/6/6 ads from last year. when i found out they were just for the new omen movie, i was disappointed.
    on a related note “I misremembered “letsmeetatstarbucks” and instead tried meetmeatstarbucks.com . It took me to http://www.bixbymusic.com. Nice work, guys.” see above about obnoxious wasting of my time. if i wanted to see their music site i would not be typing starbucks, and having to be tricked into looking at something doesn’t say much for the inherent draw of what you are selling (this applies to the above as well).

    basically i am a grump and hate ads and corporate branding. it’s exceedingly rare that an ad will make me want something more, but a bad ad will very easily make me want it less.

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