Fore! ABC Ad Sales Adds Golf Carts

Forges Deal With Prolink to Aim Ads at Golfers

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- ABC's new media sales division has aligned with a number of unique partners in out-of-home lately, among them gas stations and Meijer grocery stores. Its next target audience? Golfers.
A liquor company, for example, could buy an ad on the system to coincide with the 18th hole to remind golfers to enjoy their beverage after the game.
A liquor company, for example, could buy an ad on the system to coincide with the 18th hole to remind golfers to enjoy their beverage after the game.

ABC National Television Sales announced this week a partnership with Prolink, a GPS-based system that reaches more than 12 million golfers on 400 golf courses via digital screens on golf carts.

The deal makes ABC the exclusive ad sales rep for the golf cart network, which reaches a valuable audience for marketers: upscale men.

Rich men recall ads
Andy Batkin, CEO of ProLink Media, said the average golfer in the target audience has an average household income of more than $185,000 and an average net worth of $1.5 million. Not to mention a propensity for remembering ads -- the average ad-recall rates for previous campaigns with marketers such as FedEx and Cadillac were at 58%, sometimes even as high as 70%.

"The ads are obtrusive, located underneath the yardage, so it's real important information that people need that enhances the golfers' experience," Mr. Batkin said. "They can't help but see the message."

What Mr. Batkin would like to do next with ABC is to give added value to specific holes, putting a whole new spin on impression-based marketing. "There's a number of products and services bought by these golfers at golf courses when they're done playing. It's a predominantly male audience, so they might have a cocktail, a cigar, lunch or dinner afterward," he said. So a liquor company, for example, could buy an ad on the system to coincide with the 18th hole to remind golfers to enjoy their beverage after the game.

Dave Daniels, VP-national sales manager for ABC New Media Sales, has even loftier creative goals for the new partnership. "We've been tossing around things we can do with the technology, like an ad that builds as you go down the holes and maybe tells a story and gives you a punch line at the end of the hole," he said.

Of the $6.8 billion marketers spent on out-of-home advertising in 2006, alternative media has been poised for the most growth in an industry once dominated by billboards.

Uncluttered environment
What made Prolink appealing to ABC was an innate quality that even the biggest players in the space can't always claim: an uncluttered environment. "It's a captive audience who's only seeing one message at a time," Mr. Daniels said.

ABC's New Media Sales unit is part of its TV station group and was established in 1996 to capitalize on other resources in local markets. ABC New Media Sales unit has represented clients like Screenvision and the Blockbuster in-store network, and is a sibling of ABC's regional sales unit, which represents the YES Network (home of the New York Yankees).

Other plans for the golf-cart screens include amping up the sports and scores content, with possible partnerships with pro golfers in the works. Currently, there are no plans to air ABC or ESPN content on the golf-cart screens, however. "We're trying to create products that provide the more fun involvement in the game with the golfers -- we don't want to be too intrusive in providing them things that slow the game down or put them in the position of asking why this is on my screen."
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