Yahoo! Launches Personals Ad Blitz

Yahoo announced on Thursday a new multimedia marketing blitz to push its dating service, beginning with a commercial during this month’s telecast of the Academy Awards.

In addition to the Oscars spot on March 23, the Yahoo Personals campaign will include radio, outdoor and online ads on the Yahoo network. Euro RSCG, Yahoo’s agency of record, designed the campaign. Spending was not disclosed.

The campaign is centered on the catchword “Believe,” as Yahoo positions its online dating service as source of hope in the often bleak world of dating. The Oscars ad shows the excitement and nervousness of a diverse group before their dates: a cowboy selecting the right Stetson; a single mom asking her 4-year-old for jewelry advice; and a frisky 70-year-old codger in cruise loungewear.

The radio, outdoor and Internet ads follow a similar vein as the TV ads. Three radio spots will run on stations in a handful of metropolitan areas: New York, Boston, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Washington D.C. The spots will highlight the service’s differentiating features, such as Yahoo Personals’ three-month-old video and voice options, compared to other online dating services.

The outdoor ads will run in commuter areas, including New York, Boston, and Chicago. The ads back up the sentiments of the TV spots, highlighting the excitement of meeting new people and developing new relationships.

As in many of its online campaigns, Yahoo hopes to leverage its huge network, with a variety of creative placements across the portal that follow the theme of the TV and outdoor advertising.

The ad push comes as Yahoo increasingly looks for its premium services, including its dating service, to power the company’s growth. While paid search has expanded greatly and online advertising has shown increases, Yahoo’s premium services continue to show the fastest growth potential.

Last year, fees and listings more than doubled to contribute for $301.5 million of revenue. The company credited Yahoo Personals and its broadband-access partnership with SBC.

Yahoo ended the year with billing relationships with 2.1 million users. Yahoo CEO Terry Semel has set a goal of 10 million customers in the next three to four years.

The online personals industry has continued to be robust. According to Jupiter Research, which is a unit of this site’s parent company, 16.3 million singles visited dating sites last year and the industry took in $313 million. By 2007, Jupiter Research expects the industry to generate $642 million.

Yahoo Personals is one of the largest dating sites, drawing about 4 million visitors a month. Its biggest competitor is Match.com.

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