Terra Lycos, BMG Turn Up Holiday Marketing

Reprising an earlier effort launched late last year, Web portal Terra Lycos and Bertelsmann AG’s BMG unit will begin running a series of new, co-branded ads aimed at firing up holiday online music sales.

Beginning Wednesday, ads featuring BMG recording artists such as the Dave Matthews Band, David Gray, Lit, Outkast, Pink, the Calling, and Usher will begin appearing on cable television spots in select markets.

The eight, 30-second spots will target young music listeners (and purchasers) on Viacom’s MTV, VH1, BET and Comedy Central — the latter of which Viacom jointly owns with AOL Time Warner.

As before, the artists’ CDs are available for sale in the Lycos Music area of Waltham, Mass.-based Lycos.com — a fact that will be mentioned in the ads. Additionally, Lycos Music will feature exclusive content on the artists, as well as audio downloads and music videos. The site will also spotlight a sweepstakes offering a chance at a $100 gift certificate good at music e-tailer CDNow.com (owned by Bertelsmann).

Other sites (including Lycos Radio) owned by Lycos.com’s Spanish parent, Madrid-based Terra Lycos, also will feature online ads directing users to the Lycos Music site.

“Our strategic relationship with Bertelsmann offers our users access to BMG’s biggest names in music, as well as introduces our users to emerging stars,” said Mark Stoever, vice president of media for Terra Lycos U.S. “We have experienced great success with our past BMG promotions on Lycos Music and we are committed to extending our online relationship offline with exciting new joint marketing promotions.”

The campaign comes as the latest installment of a five-year, cross-promotional agreement signed in May 2000. Later that year, Lycos and Bertelsmann began rolling out joint initiatives starting with a service that allowed users to easily download music from BMG’s artists.

The marketing agreement also covers e-books (the two have since introduced an area for e-book downloads) and promotion for BMG subsidiaries and investments, such as Random House, Gruner + Jahr (majority owned by Bertelsmann) and Barnes & Noble (50 percent owned).

“BMG is pleased to continue working with Lycos Music to bring our artists closer to music fans around the globe in compelling and innovative ways,” said Joe DiMuro, senior vice president, strategic marketing, BMG North America. “Our relationship with Terra Lycos provides BMG with tremendous reach for our artists to millions of music enthusiasts both online and offline with this ambitious advertising campaign.”

The new campaign also comes on the heels of recent efforts by Terra Lycos to beef up its revenue from Lycos.com. According to the plan, new paid features (which include investment tools and stock trackers) will bring in money directly from site users, while changes to the Lycos design will give advertisers larger ad units. The site redesign also reduces the overall amount of ad inventory, which theoretically reduces the “noise” that advertisers will experience from rival messages on the same page. Lycos hopes this reduced clutter will allow it to charge higher CPMs.

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