As launch sponsor of Yahoo's new sports site, Toyota was in on the huddle. When Yahoo and its partner sports social media firm, SportsFanLive, developed ThePostGame , they worked with a roster of brands including Toyota. The partners aimed to create a site that would appeal to brands from an editorial and visual perspective.
Through its agency Saatchi & Saatchi LA, Toyota came up with ad creative tailored to the site's FutureSport blog, which features articles about sports related applications for technologies. Initial stories involve the psychological effects of playing field colors and brain activity during athletic training. Toyota decided the content meshed well with its broader "Ideas for Good" campaign, and designed ads featuring applications of the carmaker's injury-simulation software for safer football helmets and improved NASCAR driver protection.
"We pitched them the site and showed them what we were doing," said SportsFanLive.com CEO David Katz, adding that Toyota and its agency "gravitated specifically to FutureSport because it felt it was a perfect fit for their brand and campaign for Q1."
"We're finding the right content vehicle in the magazine that fits naturally and organically with the brands," he said. "It's the editorial version of branded integration."
Led by Katz, and Dave Morgan, executive editor of North American audiences at Yahoo, the two companies pitched advertisers together. "It is not easy to sell a site that doesn't exist," said Katz. "You’re pitching promise, potential, vision." Katz once worked with Morgan at Yahoo before becoming an entrepreneurial free agent.
Along with a focus on large eye-grabbing photos, the site was designed to highlight sports content in a fresh way. While most sports sites - including Yahoo Sports - organize content vertically by sports leagues, ThePostGame takes a horizontal approach. Stories touching on a variety of sports or types of athletes might appear in one area. For instance, a one-on-one interview section has Q&A's with football, hockey, and basketball players, and the "Spread Sheet" blog covers betting on a variety of sports.
The vertical approach taken throughout Yahoo Sports "works very well with the front page of Yahoo," explained Morgan. The new horizontal content organization "creates a different plane to approach advertising," he said.
Toyota has worked with Yahoo Sports in the past, attaching its brand to fantasy content, for example. The auto brand also sponsors Yahoo's "Who Knew?" video series. ThePostGame sponsorship was a standalone initiative, however.
Other sponsors have also signed on, and should launch campaigns in the coming month. In one scenario, future advertisers might tie their sponsorships of sporting events to related editorial content on the site. The partners plan for high-impact and expandable ad units in addition to standard display formats.
The site launched strategically at an especially active point in the sports calendar. Not only is the Super Bowl looming, Major League Baseball pitchers and catchers report to spring training soon, and NCAA March Madness is right around the corner. The Q1 launch "also fit well with advertising budgets," said Katz.
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Kate Kaye was Managing Editor at ClickZ News until October 2012. As a daily reporter and editor for the original news source, she covered beats including digital political campaigns and government regulation of the online ad industry. Kate is the author of Campaign '08: A Turning Point for Digital Media, the only book focused on the paid digital media efforts of the 2008 presidential campaigns. Kate created ClickZ's Politics & Advocacy section, and is the primary contributor to the one-of-a-kind section. She began reporting on the interactive ad industry in 1999 and has spoken at several events and in interviews for television, radio, print, and digital media outlets. You can follow Kate on Twitter at @LowbrowKate.
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