I stumbled upon a microsite for the recently launched Nokia E71. Given the URL and the use of Dilbert on the landing page, they are attempting to link their campaign proposition of E71 being designed for ‘the way we work’. I navigated through the site – took a quiz on the things I would do at work, took part in a survey of sorts on work-related issues, read a bit about the Nokia E71 and so on. The microsite has a link to a mobile version of the same thing, albeit with a simpler quiz.
The print campaign posed questions like ‘Do you send an email or share knowledge?’ – so I the attempt with the microsite is to strengthen the association of Nokia E71 as a must-have mobile device for today’s work. While the idea is taken forward with work surveys, fun-quizzes and so on, what does it convey that the mainline campaign does not? It is a digital experience of the campaign idea. Don’t get me wrong, I am not trashing the site – it does all the right things:
– links to the Nokia India site
– opportunity to forward the site URL to friends
– add to social networking sites like del.icio.us
– link to a mobile version
While it does all the right things, I still had a lot questions in my mind: why does Nokia need this microsite? What does it do that the Nokia India site cannot? What will happen to the URL and the effort behind this microsite after say, 1 month or the launch period? Will it be simply pulled down? How much would this site cost, given the content creation and royalty paid for using Dilbert?
Most clients and agencies see the development of a microsite as another box to tick in implementing the much-abused 360-degree approach. The questions that need to be asked about a microsite are:
Objective: Is it meant to drive traffic into the showroom? Is it meant to entertain? How will both be measured? If its the former (for say, a car it can be measured through the test-drive bookings created online). If its the latter it could be about how much time was spent on the site, no. of forwards, positive comments etc. Most microsites are usually registered with unique URL’s and linked through online campaigns. The content is common: some interactive game or activity, a few downloads (wallpapers usually), link to the main site – over and out.
Longevity: do you need a separate site or can the main brand site host the content? What happens to the site after the campaign is over? Usually the time taken to put together the site is longer than the site’s shelf life!
Memorability: The microsites that have stayed in my mind are a handful – Will it Blend? (for Blendtech), BMW Films, Silence the Stain (for Tide), White Gold (for Got Milk?). Some of them because they were just recent. So, unless the URL/microsite captures the public imagination, the results to effort ratio is usually very poor.
The other reason for starting a microsite is the theory of ‘engaging the consumer’ at every point of contact. But what is passed off as engagement is usually remotely connected to the brand. Take a look at some of the leading web content developer’s work in India and you will see what I mean.
Since it is a growing medium and an experiment for the agency as much as the client, microsites will thrive for some time to come. But soon, there will be some hard questions. And microsites need not be the first box to tick when it comes to digital activity.