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How Which? harnessed the power of intelligent ad banners

How Which? harnessed the power of intelligent ad banners


Which?, the renowned champion of consumer rights and providers of independent product reviews, wanted to continue to grow online traffic and memberships to the brand’s subscription base.  Which? worked with full service digital agency, Tangent One, to develop an innovative digital strategy to help overcome these challenges.


One of the biggest challenges faced by Which? is targeting potential subscribers at the exact moment at which they need buying advice. The most suitable options tended to be banner ads which, no matter how creative they were, suffered from the major shortcomings of all banner advertising in that they tend to be fairly random and poorly targeted.

In the absence of any existing advertising vehicle to work with, Tangent One recommended a new type of ad banner – one that was innovative, intelligent, highly contextual and able to display information specifically relevant to the page on which it appears. Most importantly, it needed to be able to adapt its copy dynamically according to the changing content of each page without manual intervention.

Built in either MPU, skyscraper or leaderboard format, each banner is able to scan the page it’s on and display an appropriate message. For example, if the page contains a review of digital cameras, the ad will identify which models are listed and automatically run a check against the existing database of Which? digital camera reviews before informing the viewer that there is a review of that specific model on the Which? website.

By clicking on the banner the viewer is then quickly taken to a Which? landing page with details on how to access the review in return for an introductory £1 for 1 month subscription to Which? Online.

Tangent One also developed a number of different messages to cover every eventuality (i.e. if Which? hadn’t reviewed the product) and built ads that could respond to more problematic listings pages, with results messages such as “Which? have reviewed six of the nine cameras on this page”.

PhD Rocket devised a media plan designed to demonstrate the strongest attributes of the banner ads by placing them on competing aggregator sites, such as Kelkoo, Ciao and Pricerunner, and ensuring that they were served to an interested and actively researching consumer audience.

This complemented the central strategy of engaging consumers at the point of need - in this case when looking for reliable, unbiased advice before purchasing a product such as a TV, digital camera, laptop or washing machine.


The Which? Intelligent Ad Banners went live in November 2009 and demonstrated an instant improvement in ROI and click through compared with previous banner campaigns. However, this campaign was never just about results.  It was about combining technology with marketing strategy to deliver a fresh, innovative way of targeting the right audience at the right time with the right message.  

Together with Which?, Tangent One has  developed a completely new type of intelligent ad banner, one that heralds a new era of relevance, efficiency and accountability in online advertising.

For the consumer it provides highly relevant information delivered in a non-intrusive manner that minimises the need to search. By providing content that is personalised to what’s being viewed at any given moment, the viewer is rewarded with an instant resource of useful information about the product they are researching.

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