Among major sporting events, World Cup soccer draws a significant international audience, and Web sites and advertisers are using the monthlong tournament to reach that burgeoning crowd.
Time Inc. New Media, along with major American sports sites such as ESPN SportsZone, CBS SportsLine and The Sporting News, have either set up separate sites or targeted areas within their sites.
Time Inc. has signed up international advertisers such as Nokia, Royal Philips Electronics N.V., Hewlett-Packard Co. in Europe and Varig, the Brazilian Airline, as its main sponsors. Revenue from the four is in excess of $500,000. Traffic has skewed largely international, with about 140 million registered users as of last week. About 80 million are international, the majority coming from Europe, Latin America, Asia and a smaller traffic flow from Africa.
BEATING RECORD TRAFFIC
The official World Cup site, France 98, last week reported 10 million users from 170 countries; it already set a record of one-day hits--59 million on June 15--to best the Nagano Winter Olympics site record of 56 million hits in one day.
"We wanted to use the World Cup as our first global Web site," said John Voelcker, business development director for Time's World Cup site. "The Internet is the most global medium and we wanted to take our most global brand, Time, out there."
Advertisers, which are using banner ads and links to their sites, are also using the Web to reach international watchers in unique ways. Nokia, for instance, has set up a special service for its European users in which it sends Time co-branded content and scores to users' digital wireless phones.
"Our sponsorship of the Time Web site obviously has a global reach, but the predominant driver for us is to be the first branded content service. So it's really a combination of the two," said Luke Murrell, business development manager for value-added services, at Nokia mobile phones, London.
A BARGAIN MEDIA PLAY
HP also is sponsoring World Cup content on PointCast, Yahoo!, Soccernet and Financial Times' site.
"It's a very a good deal," said Simon Anderson, new-media planner and buyer at Saatchi & Saatchi, London. "It's considerably cheaper than TV."
HP and Electronic Data Systems Corp. are also technology co-sponsors of the games.
ESPN's World Cup advertisers include IBM Corp. Although ESPN's focus is the U.S., the games are a chance to draw global users.
"It's probably not as big an event for us as the Olympics were," said Geoff Reiss, senior VP-ESPN Internet Group. "But for a month it behaves like a behemoth sport. And it's an opportunity for us to showcase the other stuff we do," such as fantasy sports leagues.
Jim Nail, analyst with Forrester Research, said most advertisers and their agencies until now have focused on targeting U.S. users who make up 70% to 80% of Web traffic. Global brands, however, are beginning to pay attention to the 20% to 30% international audience.
"Advertising agencies have global offices, but it's kind of a `think global, act local' approach. Advertising is created and placed in a country or region. On the Web, it's really `think global, act global,' " Mr. Nail said.
Contributing: Patricia Riedman
Copyright June 1998, Crain Communications Inc.