I have a real soft spot for the intersection of online and offline media and at MIXX Toronto this week, a cool Canadian start-up, Hippopost, presented a business model that put the on/offline junction to riveting use.
Hippopost is an online social media tool that allows users to upload favourite photos and create postcards that are then sent via snail mail to friends and family. The service addresses the consumer demand for user generated content and then extends it to the offline world while creating multiple brand exposures and interactions along the way. Brendan Kenalty, Vice President, Business Development at Hippopost Inc. illustrated the addictive novelty of offline media in the form of personalized postcards as a retro, hip form of communication powered through the online channel.
One of the original plays here is in the user selection of the creative that will be displayed on the card. This creates a form of opt-in that insures the ad will be sent to a somewhat targeted consumer. The potential for international brands to participate in this arena are great as they are able to get into a "likely to share" situation within the social media landscape. If my friend is somewhat athletic, I'll be sure to pick Puma or any other suitable advertising that fits her style and taste.
The service has been adapted to a Facebook mini-application and has since attracted 3,000+ installs. When Facebookers interact with the application to send a postcard to a friend, the newsfeed includes an alert about the interaction along with a miniature logo of the postcard sponsor.
Here's how Hippopost works:
1. User uploads a favourite picture
2. Creates a postcard and writes a message
3. Selects from a list of advertisers
4. Previews the postcard with the ad selected added to the back of the card
5. Submit and Hippopost sends the postcard in the mail
Brendan presented an interesting ad impact matrix to the audience. The grid showed the number of touch points and interaction opportunities with the ads and this wrapped the warm and fuzzy Hippopost brand in a seriously sobering effective light.
Here are some fast facts that were shared at the panel:
• The Company launched in May 2008 and has not spent any marketing dollars - all activity has been derived through word of mouth
• 10,000 Hippopost users in North America
• 3,000 Facebook installs (900 active / month)
• Sending 20,000 postcards / month
Among Other Advertisers:
• Greenies Pet Foods
• Koodo Mobile
Things to look out for include the novelty nature of the play. It will be interesting to see how the company continues to re-invent its offering to keep the users engaged. The idea has got a lot of potential and I'm sure it's making Canada Post for one, as happy as a ...clam?