Conan O’Brien, Content Marketer

November 24, 2010

November 8 was a beautiful day. I don’t recall what the weather was like, but I’m sure the sun was shining. The chorus of angels, clearly heard from on high, couldn’t possibly have been accompanied by clouds, after all.

Yes, November 8 is the day on which X-rays were discovered in 1895 and, of far greater significance, it’s Little Nicky Punto‘s birthday. But both of those magical occurrences pale in comparison to Conan O’Brien’s return to late-night television.

Shortly after Conan’s NBC show wrapped up, he hopped on the Twitter bandwagon and has been a social media superstar ever since. With the tweets and the TwitPics and the videos and whatnot, Conan quickly became a rather aggressive — not to mention damn entertaining — content marketer.

Facebook ad for Conan O'Brien's show on TBSSince Conan’s new show has started on TBS, the show’s Facebook advertising, in particular, has caught my eye. An ongoing Facebook advertising campaign for the show puts the show’s content front and center. The ads aren’t telling their audience to “watch Conan on TBS!” or about a “new episode of Conan tonight!” Rather, the ads are offering their audience things like “last night’s monologue” or “watch Conan’s interview with Seth Rogen.” Not only is Conan advertising his show with the content he creates, he’s also using his show’s content in his show’s advertising.

I’m sure this isn’t unique to Conan’s show, but it’s certainly the most visible and prominent use of this approach I’ve seen in the world of social media advertising. And it makes sense. An ad prodding people to “watch Conan tonight!” serves a basic purpose, but a funny video clip from last night’s show is exactly the sort of thing Conan’s fans will eagerly click on, consume and share with friends. Friends who will likely do the same.

When I click on one of these Facebook ads, I’m taken to a video player The player includes a 30-second pre-roll advertisement before I’m shown the clip I wanted to watch. TBS apparently has recognized that focusing on the content — rather than the late-night time slot through which they primarily deliver that content — is a great way to ultimately get more eyeballs they can sell to advertisers.