Web ad spending sagged in the first few weeks of 1998, down 28.4% to an estimated $23.7 million in January from $33.1 million in December, according to an industry newsletter. But the Olympics may change all this.
First quarter 1998 figures could be revived by the promotions surrounding the Winter Olympic Games, according to Simba Information Inc.’s Electronic Advertising & Marketplace Report newsletter.
In 1996, the summer games sparked a flurry of Web sites and campaigns during the traditionally slow advertising season. Companies including NBC (the games’ host), AT&T, IBM, and Apple Computer built sites and ran banners hoping to capitalize on the Olympics. The newsletter surveyed a few publishers and advertisers to see how they planned for the Winter Olympics.
Teaming up with TV network CBS has proven invaluable for sports site SportsLine USA. The site has narrowed the gap with ESPN SportsZone, generating 2.83 million page views per day in the fourth quarter of 1997.
The site has already received $57 million in advertising funding and on-air promotion from CBS. Now the site can build off live feeds from CBS as well as feature the Olympic logo since CBS is host of the winter games, according to the newsletter.
CBS SportsLine launched its separate Olympic site in November and expects to generate more than 100 million page views, according to executive vice president Mark Mariani.
“We had a site for the Olympics in 1996, but we couldn’t use the rings or logos, and we had no live feeds,” Mariani was quoted as saying. “Our sponsorship list then compared to this time around looked like a tenement compared to the Empire State Building.”
CBS SportsLine has locked in 10 sponsors for the area: AT&T, Visa, Shell, IBM, Budweiser, Ford, Bugle Boy, Preview Travel, Xerox, and Sony. The sponsors are paying a $40 CPM and Mariani estimated that each will receive 10% of the 100 million impressions.
Women.com is tying the Olympic theme to its winterfest program, which provides winter-related content. Women.com will offer general Olympic news, the training secrets of Olympic athletes, the best women’s ice skating sites and how to winterize your skin.
Olympic promotions are tied in with the site’s regular ad package. Advertisers pay $30,000 to $70,000 for packages ranging from standard banners to promotional giveaways, the newsletter said. Volvo is among the sponsors.
PointCast launched a Winter Games Channel on January 26 that will run for the duration of the games. The channel will provide live games updates and has two official games sponsors in Kodak and IBM, and four unofficial sponsors in SAP, Mercedes Benz, Fidelity Fund, and DLJ.
PointCast is hoping to capitalize on the visual effect of the games and reportedly boosted its bandwidth 40% to 70 kilobytes. The upgrade is primarily to accommodate Kodak, which is sponsoring a daily pictures of the Games and the city of Nagano. IBM is sponsoring the results.
Sponsorships on the PointCast channel start at $175,000, with a commitment of at least three showings over a four-week period. Although company officials would not reveal specifics, they did confirm a 15% increase in traffic to their server for the 1996 summer games, and expect at least that much this year.
IBM created the official Olympic Web site for the 1998 games that builds from the official site it created for the 1996 summer games. IBM also is providing its Net.Commerce solution for the Olympic organizing committee to sell official merchandise online. Viewers can also send emails to athletes through the site’s fan mail service.
Coca-Cola launched its own Olympic site in November, but the company is targeting its message more to the Japanese audience than U.S. viewers. The site is in Japanese with an icon for viewers who want it in English. Ads are featured on Japanese search engines and Japanese TV stations.
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