“Fast, hip and memorable.” This was the motto Oklahoma’s Metropolitan Library System adopted when rethinking its marketing strategy late last year. The MLS staff knew there was an untapped market of young people with eReaders, tablets and smartphones in the area who were not taking advantage of the library’s digital collection. But how could they grab these young users’ attention and let them know about the library’s digital resources in a way that would be simple yet eye-catching?


In this edition of Librarians Share, Kim Terry, director of marketing and communications for MLS, describes how the library has seen eBook circulation rise since the airing of a successful television commercial:


Knowing that eReaders were going to be huge gifts this past holiday season, we decided to capitalize our eBook collection and create a fun, 30-second TV commercial to promote downloading eBooks from the library. We wanted eReader users to know that they don’t have to spend money to fill up their new gadgets with books. All they needed to do was head over to our website and stock up on the latest bestsellers just by using the best plastic card in their wallet: their library card.


Our Marketing and Communications department and our Web Development & Support Manager brainstormed to come up with a very simple and basic message that we wanted to convey to regular library users and potential new ones:


Welcome to the new Metropolitan Library System where anyone can download books, anywhere, anyplace, anytime.  Free (with a library card).


Since we wanted to target 18-30-year-olds who buy their eBooks through online suppliers, the ad had to be fast, hip and memorable. From there, we decided to go strictly with animation, a catchy song and no voice-over. Our TV spot quickly became one of the most talked about ads running on Oklahoma City TV in a four-week period.



We decided to book the commercial on cable from December 17 to January 19, and on Fox and the CW broadcast channels from December 17 to December 31. Because our target audience was in the 18-30-year-old demographic, we advertised only during the evenings during these programs:


  • The Daily Show
  • Colbert Report
  • Family Guy
  • The Big Bang Theory
  • American Horror Story
  • Comedy Central, Bravo, TNT & FX Network – misc.
  • The Vampire Diaries
  • Arrow
  • New Girl
  • The X Factor Season Finale
  • Fringe
  • Beauty & the Beast
  • Hart of Dixie


Soon, our eMedia stats started jumping. In one month, our total eMedia website patron sessions increased from 97,134 to 156,867 for a 61-percent increase. We went from 39,004 eMedia checkouts to 50,240 checkouts. Over 1,700 new customers began using our eMedia site since the commercial started running, which was a 22-percent increase over the previous month.


The commercial included our website address and was also highlighted on our homepage during those weeks. It was linked to our eMedia resources page that contained an extended play version of the commercial, a direct link to our OverDrive eMedia collection, How To Guides and tutorials, information on supported devices, and links to free book sites.


Recognizing the popularity of eReader devices and taking advantage of a simple message cleverly expressed, eye-catching animation, and upbeat music, we were able to give ourselves a pair of welcome holiday gifts: increased public awareness of a new version of a traditional library service, and the jump in circulation figures that accompanied it.


You can visit the Metropolitan Library System’s eMedia site to view an extended play version of the video and to take a look at their additional eBook resources.


Melissa Marin is a Marketing Specialist at OverDrive. 


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