AMERICAN HONDA FORTIFIES STRATEGY WITH SPONSORSHIPS: FALLING BANNER CLICK-THROUGHS PROMPT CHANGE

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American honda Motor Co., seeking alternatives to banner-only Web marketing, is diversifying its online ad strategy with programming on two new custom-created Web sites.

American Honda's Honda Division signed a six-month sponsorship of two online programs, Driving Today (www.drivingtoday.com), a car enthusiast site, and Gamers Today (www.gamerstoday.com), a videogame information site.

Honda will promote Prelude for the first two months, Honda's racing engine in the next two months and the new S2000 two-seater roadster near the end of the year.

REACHING PROSPECTS A NEW WAY

Honda and Web shop Rubin Postaer Interactive, Santa Monica, Calif., see sponsorships as an alternative to banner ads in targeting some prospects.

"We noticed that the click-through rate on banners had dropped considerably and pretty consistently," said Edmund Purcell, account supervisor for RPI, a division of Honda general agency Rubin Postaer & Associates.

"We felt it was important to bring traffic into Honda's site in new and different ways," Mr. Purcell said.

Rubin Postaer worked with Studio One Networks, a New York-based developer and distributor of original Internet programming, to develop sites to reach its target.

The sites can be reached through buttons placed on various car and online game-related sites in the DoubleClick Network, ESPN Infoseek Racing and Cablevision's EZ Seek Auto Channel.

EVERY PAGE HAS MESSAGE

Every page of content will include a sponsorship message from Honda linked to Honda's Prelude site (www.honda1999.com/cars/prelude). In addition, visitors can e-mail Honda designers and racers.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Honda will initially target Prelude buyers who are upper-income male college graduates age 25 to 49, said Meridee Alter, RPI VP-media director. Prelude buyers have a strong interest in videogames and are auto enthusiasts, she said.

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