Sports Sites Talk a Big Engagement Game

  |  December 12, 2007   |  Comments

In pitch to advertisers, sports sites play up ability of video, fantasy leagues to keep viewers on-site longer. Do advertisers care?

As the pro football and basketball seasons hit their stride, some sport sites are proudly showing advertisers just how much time consumers are spending with their content in the hope those would-be clients believe engagement translates to greater advertising impact. Their eagerness to crow about such metrics suggests Nielsen//NetRatings' new time spent metrics may have come at the right time, but are advertisers listening?

CBSSports.com recently released statistics gathered by Nielsen//NetRatings' home and work panel measuring time spent on Web sites. The data showed the site had an average of 9.03 visits-per-person during the month of November, and that its viewers stayed for an average of one hour and 22 minutes. "They are not just flying through our site to check scoreboards and get in and out, they are spending time there," said Jason Kint, SVP and GM of CBSSports.com.

Patrick Stiegman, vice president and executive editor and producer of ESPN.com, sounds a similar note. "Our ESPN pages are like fans sitting around the bar talking about their favorite team," he said.

Sports Sites Roll Out Sticky Features

Sports sites are always looking for new methods of engaging their audience, but some features are becoming universal. Most sites now rely on Fantasy Game Leagues and online videos to drive user activity. Last week, the National Football League (NFL) expanded its online video presence by offering "Live Look-Ins" during games at 15 minutes and 45 minutes past each hour for its NFL Network subscribers. The site also provides additional in-studio programming and "red zone" coverage when the ball advances to within the 20 yard line.

NFL.com will offer the video feature during select Thursday night and Saturday games through December 29, and has signed Sprint as a sponsor. The wireless provider is also broadcasting the videos to mobile devices on its network.

In addition to tried and true features, CBS Sports is currently running three different sports widgets, including a Facebook application sponsored by wireless provider T-Mobile. The Facebook app, called Office Pool Challenge, lets friends compete to pick winners for upcoming games. Earlier this year, CBS Sports also experimented with a new ad unit, sponsored by E-Trade, in the form of yellow sticky notes that overlaid scoreboards in its Fantasy section.

Even smaller sites are getting in on the game. High school sports social networking site Takkle last week signed on with ImageSpan to use its CurbStream content network to collect video submissions from athletes. These included several sponsored "video battle" challenges, including a cheerleading battle sponsored by Procter and Gamble, a three-point basketball shooting challenge sponsored by Spaulding, and a battle of football hits sponsored by Nike.

Do Advertisers Care?

Not all advertisers are sold on the notion that engagement equals impactful advertising. Brian Mathena, group media director in Carat's Los Angeles office, which represents both Adidas and Reebok, said impressive time spent metrics don't necessarily indicate consumers are bothering to look at ads. Advertisers looking to reach sports fans are better off sponsoring large events, like the World Cup or the NBA, Mathena said.

"All time spent does is show affinity for the destination," he said. "I don't think it's a direct correlation that people are going to be more engaged with advertising."

Still, some advertisers believe if a users is spending plenty of time on a site, it naturally follows that they are more engaged with its advertising.

"When we buy advertising or sponsorships with a sports site, we buy in the hope that the audience will have at least an opportunity to see our ad, and even better if the user spends some time on the page," said Scott Symonds, executive media director with agency AKQA. "Typically if a site does a better job of building engagement with its users it will help our advertising score better for our clients on the qualitative research. [It's] a virtuous circle, if done well."

ClickZ Live Toronto On the heels of a fantastic event in New York City, ClickZ Live is taking the fun and learning to Toronto, June 23-25. With over 15 years' experience delivering industry-leading events, ClickZ Live offers an action-packed, educationally-focused agenda covering all aspects of digital marketing. Early Bird Rates expire May 29. Register today and save!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Matthew G. Nelson

COMMENTSCommenting policy

comments powered by Disqus

ClickZ Today is our #1 newsletter.
Get a daily dose of digital marketing.

COMMENTS

UPCOMING EVENTS

Featured White Papers

Gartner Magic Quadrant for Digital Commerce

Gartner Magic Quadrant for Digital Commerce
This Magic Quadrant examines leading digital commerce platforms that enable organizations to build digital commerce sites. These commerce platforms facilitate purchasing transactions over the Web, and support the creation and continuing development of an online relationship with a consumer.

Paid Search in the Mobile Era

Paid Search in the Mobile Era
Google reports that paid search ads are currently driving 40+ million calls per month. Cost per click is increasing, paid search budgets are growing, and mobile continues to dominate. It's time to revamp old search strategies, reimagine stale best practices, and add new layers data to your analytics.

WEBINARS

Resources

Jobs

    • SEO Specialist
      SEO Specialist (HeBS Digital) - NEW YORK                             ...
    • GREAT Campaign Project Coordinator
      GREAT Campaign Project Coordinator (British Consulate-General, New York) - New YorkThe GREAT Britain Campaign is seeking an energetic and creative...
    • Paid Search Senior Account Manager
      Paid Search Senior Account Manager (Hanapin Marketing) - BloomingtonHanapin Marketing is hiring a strategic Paid Search Senior Account Manager...