Los Angeles Times: “Through a Cracked Lens,” Sponsored by Snowfall (FX)
2018 Winner

Los Angeles Times: “Through a Cracked Lens,” Sponsored by Snowfall (FX)

Tronc - Los Angeles Times

Los Angeles, United States

Category Native Advertising

Overview of this campaign

With the show’s local, based-on-a-true-story plot, it was critical to engage savvy L.A. Times readers with a range of smart branded content custom-tailored to the L.A. experience, if not a bit elevated in tone and style. The campaign called for compelling, unflinching content revealing an expertly researched, nuanced perspective on modern L.A. history specific to crack cocaine and the controversial political and social issues surrounding it. Ultimately, with material this heavy, we knew we also had to make it fun for readers to explore. Our approach provided readers with a multimedia experience, serving up a mélange of fascinating facts and stories about crack, South L.A. and ’80s Southern California culture. As readers perused this content, they were also subtly immersed in “Snowfall” branding. We custom-built a “Snowfall” destination site to live on LATimes.com, and we peppered it with brightly colored animations using key art and branding from the FX show. We then populated the site with a variety of strategically organized content elements that would appear as the reader scrolled down the page. A brief text intro gave way to a video we produced in-house, a rundown of the evolution of crack in ’80s L.A. and beyond. An interactive infographic featuring illustrative crack-related statistics followed. Next appeared the first of two long-form magazine-style articles, this one examining the controversial links between the CIA and crack. Following was an interactive timeline utilizing headlines pulled from the L.A. Times historical archive to trace notable events in crack’s history in ’80s L.A. Next appeared the second article, on the evolution of graffiti as art. Finally, an interactive map pointed out some of South L.A.’s most infamous and interesting destinations and encouraged readers to visit. We included a “Snowfall” trailer at the bottom of the page. We promoted the site with native ads that appeared throughout LATimes.com, and, crucially, with splashy Facebook “handshake” posts from the L.A. Times Facebook account.

Results for this campaign

The "Snowfall" campaign was a groundbreaking success, setting a variety of performance records for Tronc studio 1847-produced content.

Campaign content exceeded averages across nearly all key performance metrics and outperformed multiple past benchmarks for sponsored content. The campaign was also among the most successful pieces of content ever posted on the L.A. Times Facebook page. Snowfall’s two sponsored Facebook posts exceeded even the average editorial post, with nearly 1 in 5 page views to the content coming from the social promotion. Ann Vasquez, tronc's chief digital officer, said: “The campaign is among the most successful our audience team has posted to date — editorial or branded/sponsored content included. In just a matter of days, the campaign added more than 330 likes to the main LA Times Facebook page.”

The client was very pleased with the end result, even reaching out to let us know they intended to submit multiple elements of the campaign for consideration in various marketing award competitions.

Quantitative Results:

Page views: 259,875 (+30% over average)

Average time spent: 2 minutes, 7 seconds (+46%)

Content page scroll depth: 95% (+65%)

Video completion rate: 47.5% (+90%)

Nine days after launch, users had spent a total of 369 days and 5 hours engaged with site content.

Call-to-action rate: 7.91% (+2.5x)

Social media impressions: 1,080,627

Total Facebook post clicks: 47,332

Promotional Facebook post engagements: 8,600 (likes, comments and shares)

Social shares: 1,645


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