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Alternative Marketing Campaign Ideas & Examples

Updated: 3 days ago

Get around the competition by marketing your brand through exciting, less cluttered channels.

neon signs outside movie theater

Everyone in advertising is talking about programmatic CTV and retail media networks these days. And that makes sense! Both these channels present advertisers with a wealth of targeting and engagement capabilities. But they're not the only growth opportunities for brands.

In fact, popular advertising channels like CTV, e-commerce, paid search, and paid social media can be quite noisy and cluttered with competition. How can your brand possibly stand out?

Adding alternative, emerging channels to a paid media mix help brands to stand out from the crowd and reach people in exciting, memorable ways.

What is the meaning of alternative marketing?

Alternative marketing traditionally involves any media channel or tactic outside the traditional advertising mainstays of Radio, TV, and Print.

Technically, digital paid advertising channels such as e-commerce, podcast advertising, and influencer marketing could be considered alternative marketing tactics even though they've become mainstream. The landscape is rapidly evolving, and emerging opportunities crop up under the umbrella term ‘alternative marketing.’

What are some examples of alternative advertising?

The creative possibilities are endless, but a few effective examples include:

Digital Out-of-Home (DOOH)

DOOH boasts the ability to deliver big impact in precise geographical locations. And buying DOOH inventory programmatically (Programmatic Out-of-Home, or POOH) saves advertisers time and money, offering a holistic view of the campaign's digital performance.

DOOH also allows brands to reach targeted audiences via hyperlocal campaigns and even use real-time data triggers (such as current weather conditions) to deliver relevant and impactful messages. DOOH ad spending is predicted to hit nearly $14.2 billion by the end of 2024!

Experiential Marketing

Ads can be more than just visuals; they can be fully immersive experiences. Whether it's a pop-up event, a branded installation, or an interactive campaign, experiential marketing brings people together in the physical world, where they can touch, feel, and sense the brand in a tangible way. These activations explode on social media, lead to higher brand recall, and instill customer loyalty. Strategic organic and paid media efforts lead to enhanced earned media.

Cinematic Advertising

Imagine your ad on the big screen, impossible to ignore, in a theater near you. Despite taking a hit during the pandemic, cinematic advertising is clawing its way back with digital strategies and box office hits, providing a much-needed jolt.

The CPM for cinematic advertising is competitive with CTV and avoids many of the problems in search and social like signal loss and data privacy. An Exverus client who advertised in-cinema increased unaided brand awareness by 12x as a result of the campaign!

Voodoo Ranger Cinematic Campaign

Guerrilla Marketing

These tactics show up in unexpected places, sneaking up on people out in the wild -- think pop-up art installations, flash mobs, interactive street games, or messages appearing on unlikely canvasses like sidewalks and buildings.

Pardon the obvious pun here, but there was a truly "guerrilla" campaign for the latest Planet of the Apes movie in 2024:

What are the advantages of alternative marketing?

Thinking outside the box has its benefits.

Bespoke and alternative 360 marketing efforts involving PR, creative, experiential, organic, touchpoints allows brands to stand out and capture consumer attention.

Alternative marketing leads to

  • lasting brand recall

  • engagement that bolsters brand awareness, affinity, and ultimately

  • drives purchase intent.

How do you measure the success of alternative marketing campaigns?

While it's true that alternative advertising campaigns are less directly attributable to sales than performance marketing channels like e-commerce, there are definite ways to measure their impact.

For example, see the advantages listed above. You can measure KPIs like

  • brand recall

  • positive brand perceptions, and

  • purchase intent through

brand lift studies, surveys, and focus groups.

You can also incorporate QR codes or other data collection methods into your campaign, which are very measurable (and extremely important in the face of third-party data loss).

Here's an example of a successful experiential contest we ran that collected zero-party data and led to an 84% surge in revenue directly attributed to media!

How do you integrate alternative marketing into an omnichannel media strategy?

No earned or paid marketing tactic, traditional or otherwise, can yield steady, long-term growth in a bubble – they have to work together! A good media agency can help your brand build a holistic, omnichannel media plan that incorporates upper-funnel tactics like experiential activations or OOH with mid- and lower-funnel tactics like paid search and retail media, respectively. 

Focusing too narrowly on lower-funnel tactics at the expense of brand-building is a common mistake called short-termism. The immediate, traceable performance effects can be enticing, but without upper-funnel brand building in the mix, your audience won’t grow, and your business won’t either. 

Get your brand outside in the real world and create outstanding, memorable experiences for your customers. Show them a good time, and they'll stick with you.


This piece originally appeared in our weekly Paid Media Insights newsletter. For more tips, research, and analysis; subscribe for free here.

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