Case studies – Raising the iBar

Case study

Raising the iBar: matching content and advertising for better targeting

An advertising tool unique to our network is helping Southampton City Council promote its own range of commercial services in a more targeted way.

Unlike the standard advertising units you’ll see on most websites – like the ‘leaderboard’ that appears across the top of the screen from left to right, or the ‘skyscraper’ down the side from top to bottom – CAN’s ‘iBar’ remains a fixed feature at the foot of the screen while you scroll down a webpage.

Local councils on the Council Advertising Network – Southampton included – have most often utilised the iBar to get important messages across to their residents from national government or Public Health England campaigns. Most recently the government’s ‘Help to Save’ scheme to encourage people on low incomes to put by small amounts of money has been run this way.

But, up until recently, no council had taken full advantage of the iBar’s flexibility: that different adverts can appear on the iBar on different webpages. So, if you have something to say to a distinct audience visiting the webpage for a specific service, you can.

Hard-working ad tech

Southampton City Council’s Commercial Communications team has long made the most of the technology that powers CAN’s advertising network to sell standard ad units on its website at discounted rates to local businesses and support the area’s economic growth. And used the iBar to good effect to promote its own-brand energy supplier CitizEn Energy (see below).

Recently, the team has experimented further with the iBar, promoting the council’s own range of commercial services in a more segmented way – so people see an appropriate iBar that reflects the content on the webpage they are visiting.

For example, people looking at the business services menu webpage get an iBar which shows the full range of the council’s commercial services from waste disposal to street cleansing, and from design and landscaping to pest control (see below).

And people looking at the ‘roads and parking’ menu page are served an iBar promoting the council’s commercial MOT service for residents and businesses (see below).

Since the iBar ad units were introduced to the Southampton City Council website in July 2018, there have been almost 1.9 million page impressions generated, and nearly 2,300 clicks for CitizEn Energy alone. Kathryn Glynn, Senior Commercial Communications Officer at Southampton City Council, said: “Although it’s too soon to measure the impact of the segmented iBars, we’re excited by the possibilities. It’s given us great flexibility to deliver impactful adverts, targeting the relevant audience through different sections of our website.

“Southampton has a population of around 250,000, so the interest shown in our energy scheme alone in terms of ad clicks is impressive. We hope the iBar will deliver similar success for our other commercial services.”