Olympics Online: Yahoo, MSN, ESPN Are Traffic Leaders

While one would expect ESPN.com to do well during the Winter Games, Yahoo and MSN are giving the sports media giant a run for its money. Yahoo, ESPN, and MSN – in that order – were the three traffic leaders for the sports category during the first weekend of the Olympics, according to comScore data released late last week.

Yahoo’s ‘s Olympics site totaled 9.3 million unique visitors from February 8 to 14. The site has been offering daily blogs, video reports, and news articles about the sporting event.

According to a spokesperson for the Sunnyvale, CA-based company, it’s employing a 28-person on-site editorial team with a handful of off-site bloggers. To push Yahoo’s coverage, the spokesperson said that it has utilized a winter-sports-themed photo contest and a trivia quiz sweepstakes, promoting them on the company’s network of sites and with Facebook ads.

Which brands have attempted to gain traction around Yahoo’s content? Electronics manufacturer Hewlett-Packard and deodorant brand Secret have run an array of promos, including pre-roll/post-roll video spots, and “skin”/wrap-around ads. Also, banner ads have appeared for Acura, Visa, and Samsung.

Meanwhile, ESPN’s site for the Winter Games attracted 8.5 uniques. The media brand has leaned on ESPN.com’s organic traffic to drive people to the site’s Olympics channel, a spokesperson said. Procter & Gamble-owned Vicks and DayQuil have been prominent video and display sponsors at the Bristol, CT-based brand’s site, while Ford has been running rich media displays for its Lincoln car series.

NBCOlympics.com on MSN landed 6.5 million uniques, according to Reston, VA-based comScore. Additionally, the site accrued 177 million page views last week. MSN said the page views represented a 126 million increase compared to the first week of coverage for the 2006 Winter Games. To achieve the numbers, the MSN.com search box and the corporate property Bing.com have been leveraged for people querying Olympics-related topics. A display campaign across multiple networks has targeted sports fans, Olympics enthusiasts, and lifestyle sites.

Interestingly, MSN has employed a “Vancouver Fan Picks” Facebook application, which matches viewers with three U.S. athletes, based on lifestyle interests. An MSN spokesperson said the app also delivers Twitter feeds, relevant news from NBC, and “social trend data” on the most popular athletes.

The spokesperson said that visitors to the site averaged an 8.2-minute stay during the first week of the Olympics. That stickiness has apparently benefited McDonald’s, AT&T, Honda, Coca-Cola, Subway, BMW, and DirecTV, which have been appearing in video pre-rolls, banners, displays, and article sponsorships at the site.

Lastly, MSN has leveraged NBC’s sports broadcast and online reporting team to produce the content for the ads to appear around. And ESPN has used a similar coverage strategy.

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