Sep 16, 2013 3:10:00 PM

3 Killer Marketing Strategies: What HBO is Doing Right

Posted by Teknicks

HBO Logo | Who's Doing Marketing Better Than HBO? Not You...

When it comes to online marketing, most companies tend to err on the side of caution and stick with the traditional “tried and true” methods to achieve success.  From SEO to SEM and everything else in between, there’s something to be said for being conservative, especially with the fast pace of change and ever-evolving algorithms in the online world. 

However, when it comes to the entertainment industry, people expect flash and panache and want to be captivated instantly.  Ignoring the traditional can be a big mistake, even for the entertainment industry, but failing to take any risks can be just as detrimental to their success.  The key is finding the balance between traditional and cutting edge, and knowing which approach works for which marketing method and why.

Traditional: SEO and Link Acquisition

When it comes to search engine optimization and link strategies, traditional is always better. Following white hat and Google best practices over risky quick-win techniques can be the difference between a top ranking and a penalty.  Taking the safe route can really pay off when you consider how many updates Google makes to their algorithm (est. over 500 annually) and the ramifications of trying to take shortcuts (penalties).  While being traditional in your approach, it is important to stay up to date and on top of Google’s Webspam team and always follow white-hat tactics in your optimization efforts.  This will help protect you from any negative impact from Penguin and Panda updates and help ensure that your site continues to rank well.

For SEO and Link Acquisition, if you want to be cutting edge, look to the tools and technology you can utilize to report with.  There’s a lot of great stuff out there such as Moz, Majestic, Raven, and Screaming Frog, just to name a few.  Use these cutting edge SEO tools to get the information and reports you need to drive your SEO and linking strategies, and keep the strategy itself traditional.

Cutting Edge: SEM

Switching gears from organic SEO strategies, for your SEM program you can really push the limits.  There’s a lot more flexibility in paid marketing in the online world and being creative and cutting edge can really pay off when you are in the entertainment industry.  Rather than basic AdWords and Bing PPC, consider the various social networks such as Facebook and Twitter. Allow your ads to compliment your social presence and branding; create valuable and engaging ads that people can’t ignore.

Sites such as YouTube and IMDB offer homepage takeover options where your brand can be plastered all over their homepage (and sometimes even the rest of their site).  In addition, embedded videos, in-video ads, and other YouTube options let you reach customers when viewing videos that are similar to your brand/item/promotion.

When it comes to determining what will work for you, first decide who you want to reach based on your specific promotion and then do your research on where your audience is.  Take advantage of industry specific sites such as IMDB and E! and don’t be afraid to do something different.  Standing out in the world of entertainment is definitely a good thing!

Entertainment Marketing Online: You’re Doing It Right

Risks can really pay off when it comes to SEM, and balancing that with a solid and more traditional SEO strategy can get you the biggest bang for your marketing bucks.  Consider HBO’s marketing efforts around the series “True Blood.”  Not only did they do the typical merchandising of goods and feature on their main site, but they went as far as to make websites for the American Vampire League, Fellowship of the Sun and produced and promoted the Tru Blood drink (made of blood orange rather than blood, of course). 

True Blood Ad | Who's Doing Marketing Better Than HBO? Not You...

To drive traffic to these sites, they created SEM campaigns to spread the word, and developed a traditional link strategy between the family of sites to ensure they would rank well organically.  Take notice of the link back to the main HBO site at the bottom of the above image.  Not only did these sites receive traffic, merchandise sales were strong, the Tru Blood drink sold out, and the “True Blood” show skyrocketed to fame as a cult classic that is now in its 6th season.


Of course, when it comes to entertainment industry marketing, HBO is a force to be reckoned with, and has the budget to support all of their great ideas.  But don’t let a smaller budget get you down.  Be smart about what you do and where you market.  Stay focused on traditional SEO efforts and take advantage of linking opportunities to high quality reputable sites.  And don’t be afraid to take a risk in SEM because you definitely want to stand out from the crowd!

Have you seen a great entertainment marketing promotion online?  Share your experiences in the comments and let us know what you think.



Topics: Internet Marketing, Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

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