The U.S. Potato Board’s domestic marketing program is trying something new this year — online advertising.

Potato board breaks into online advertising

Courtesy U.S. Potato Board

The final screen in a U.S. Potato Board animated banner ad on recipe Web sites prompts users to click for "quick and healthy" potato recipe.

The Denver-based board is taking its “Peel Back the Truth” campaign, seen in women’s, cooking and lifestyle magazines over the past year and a half, to the World Wide Web.

The board started running banner ads at two recipe Web sites, and, in April.

The ads are animated, and show a potato dropping onto a blank surface, then a peeler cutting back the skin of the potato to reveal a question — very similar to the board’s print ads.

“We wanted to retail the same look and feel,” said Kathleen Triou, vice president of domestic marketing for the board, who has been pushing integrated marketing communications since joining the board in December 2008.

In their first two weeks, the ads garnered a click-through rate of 0.4%, four times above the average click-through rate of 0.1% for banner ads. On average, users are spending a minute longer than industry averages on the board’s site once they’ve clicked through.

“We’ve had incredible results since launching,” said Meredith Myers, manager of public relations. “It’s a targeted site, and it’s really reaching our target audience.”

The board’s target audience, which it refers to as “Linda,” includes women 25-54 years old who make most of the purchasing decisions for their households and have children at home.

The ads send users to a microsite, an extension of its site, with six recipes for what it calls quick and easy potato dishes. The recipes play off popular product formats for the potato, and include baked fries, mashed potatoes and potato soup.

More than 1,500 recipes were downloaded in the first two weeks of the ad placement, Triou said.

“This week I expect to see another update report,” Triou said May 4. “If performance is as good as it was, we will continue to utilize online ads as part of our tactics.”