Play Ball! Advertising to Sports Fans

One great thing about online media is it’s constantly evolving. New advertising opportunities are always cropping up. Marketers need never be content with just a handful of sites or placements.

Marketers targeting sports fans and enthusiasts have lately received a lot of new advertising opportunities and improved offerings. From online video to online coupons, sites catering to this group sport a bevy of enviable placements.

Consider ESPN.com, which introduced a desktop application in 2004 that delivers daily sports highlights and video clips directly to consumers — along with third-party commercial spots. This “killer” program allows sports marketers to reach their targets directly, without worrying about the filtering and deliverability issues that plague email campaigns.

Also last year, MSN partnered with FOXSports to create a co-branded site section that blends sports coverage with online video. FOXSports on MSN features exclusive FOXSports content and behind-the-scenes footage of FOXSports shows. The site offers more than just online video placements. Marketers can also purchase ad packages tied to premier sports events that integrate elements of broadcast and online.

Not to be outdone, Sports Illustrated’s SI.com was redesigned earlier this year to reduce clutter and provide marketers with a “stronger ad environment.” The site eliminated several superfluous formats, reduced the ad units per page to place more emphasis on individual advertisers, and is considering more prominent video presentations.

Marketers after recreational sport enthusiasts needn’t feel left out, particularly if they target Canadian consumers. Toronto-based Powder Patrol and sister site Par Patrol are making it easy for marketers to connect with Canadian skiers, snowboarders, and golfers through their coupon book-inspired system.

These are membership-based portals. Visitors must register their name, age, and mailing address and pay an annual subscription fee. The portals provide consumers with access to discounts on lift tickets and greens fees, deals on equipment and instruction, vacation promotions, and cash rebates from local and international ski and golf properties. Through their Consumer Reward Programs, Powder and Par Patrol allow companies to showcase their products and services on a regional, national, or global level.

So long as they provide value to the sites’ visitors, advertisers can display their offers for free. This also ensures members have plenty to choose from. For those seeking extra exposure, paid placements, such as site banners and ads in the Powder and Par Patrol email newsletters, which feature exclusive advertiser offers, are also available. Newcomers to the portals can also sponsor a ski- or golf-related advergame.

VP of business development Nigel Da Costa says the company’s online sports marketing opportunity is particularly valuable to marketers promoting time-sensitive deals or seeking to determine the geographic origin of their businesses. Promotions can be enhanced or removed at any time based on consumer response and time limitations. And, because members must identity themselves when redeeming an offer, marketers can find out which areas deliver the most customers.

There’s a good reason why sports-related sites and portals are pursued by marketers more than ever before: traffic. These sites know (Super Bowl and March Madness surges aside) they’ll always have a steady stream of visitors. From up-to-the-minute game scores to discounted lift tickets, the Internet and sports and recreational information are a perfect match. This translates into some pretty appealing ad opportunities.

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