Riding the usual tsunami of Olympic hype, many marketers are revving up their Web sites with themed interactive promotions and sponsorships.
Marshaling one of the largest online efforts is CBS SportsLine, which has the official rights to the Games through CBS' network coverage. SportsLine offered CBS Olympic advertisers first dibs at exclusive Web sponsorships. Sponsors are Anheuser-Busch, AT&T Corp., Bugle Boy Industries, Ford Motor Co., IBM Corp., Preview Travel, Shell Oil Co., Sony, Visa USA and Xerox Corp.
LARGE BASE OF AD SUPPORT
With CBS referring viewers to SportsLine in its Olympic broadcasts, the site will receive 100 million page views from the time the site launched in November through the end of February, predicted Mark Mariani, exec VP of SportsLine USA.
"We'll be drawing a large base of advertising support--much larger than what's been seen on the Web to date," said Mr. Mariani, noting that this is A-B's first sponsored content on the Internet.
OLYMPIC TRADING CARDS
SportsLine would not release the cost of its sponsorships, but it's believed that they're in line with the price of its ad banners, which sell for $35 per thousand impressions.
Some of the sponsored content areas include an AT&T schedule of events; daily events results, merchandising and a $1,000 sweepstakes, via Visa; Ford's Olympic Poll; and video downloads of Olympic clips sponsored by IBM. Some marketers will also be sponsoring animated Shockwave games.
Separately, AT&T is launching AT&T Olympic Trading Cards, a promotion created by Modem Media, Westport, Conn. Being advertised on about 20 news and sports sites, the promotion encourages people to collect sets of interactive trading cards, which are entries in a sweepstakes to win a trip to the 2000 Summer Games in Sydney. To collect a complete set of trading cards, which include AT&T Olympic-sponsored teams, bobsled and speed skating, users must go to a "trading room" site where they can swap cards with other users.
The promotion tries to position AT&T as "a company on the move and embracing the Internet," said Art Melville, VP-director of account management at Modem Media. It also mimics the interactive nature of Modem's AT&T 1996 "Olympic Switchboard" campaign, which generated 20 million page views and gave users a chance to vote for the winners of an Olympic sweepstakes.
Meanwhile, push media companies are gearing up their services to take advantage of any possible Internet slowdowns from Olympic traffic. InfoBeat, for instance, has already signed up 25,000 people for its Olympic content daily e-mailing service.
IBM, which is sponsoring the official Olympic site, is the anchor sponsor on the push service. Strong Funds, REI and American Express Co. are a few of the additional sponsors on the Games mailing.
Last week, PointCast Business Network also launched a Winter Games Channel. Sponsors include IBM, Kodak Picture Network, which will be sponsoring daily images from Nagano, and Founders Fund.
For the first time, PointCast will let Olympic sponsors run 40-second animated commercials, instead of its usual 3-to-10-second spots.
A presence on PointCast "is a way to align with the Olympics without getting caught up in the clutter," said Mark Cook, director of marketing for Kodak Picture Network, Kodak's online digital photography site.
Mr. Cook said he also liked the ability to broadcast longer-format spots.
"From the advertisers' perspective, it potentially has more bang for the buck," he said, adding that a sponsorship costs less than $100,000.
Not everyone is spending their ad budgets on Web advertising during the Olympics. Nike will focus its Olympic coverage on its new Nikebiz.com site, where it will offer athlete information.
Still, the Olympics should provide good conditions for online advertising, according to Mark Hardie, senior analyst at Forrester Research, explaining that sports events drive people online. "You have the eyeballs for a period of time, rather than flipping through pages," Mr. Hardie said.
Copyright January 1998, Crain Communications Inc.