Winter Olympics May Boost First Quarter Ad Spending

Web ad spending sagged in the first few weeks of 1998, down 28.4% to an
estimated $23.7 million in January from $33.1 million in December, according
to an industry newsletter. But the Olympics may change all this.

First quarter 1998 figures could be revived by the promotions surrounding the
Winter Olympic Games, according to Simba Information Inc.’s Electronic
Advertising & Marketplace Report

In 1996, the summer games sparked a flurry of Web sites and campaigns during
the traditionally slow advertising season. Companies including NBC (the games’
host), AT&T, IBM, and Apple Computer built sites and ran banners hoping to
capitalize on the Olympics. The newsletter surveyed a few publishers and
advertisers to see how they planned for the Winter Olympics.

Teaming up with TV network CBS has proven invaluable for sports site SportsLine USA. The site has narrowed
the gap with ESPN SportsZone, generating 2.83
million page views per day in the fourth quarter of 1997.

The site has already received $57 million in advertising funding and on-air
promotion from CBS. Now the site can build off live feeds from CBS as well
as feature the Olympic logo since CBS is host of the winter games,
according to the newsletter.

CBS SportsLine launched its separate Olympic site in November and expects to
generate more than 100 million page views, according to executive vice
president Mark Mariani.

“We had a site for the Olympics in 1996, but we couldn’t use the rings or
logos, and we had no live feeds,” Mariani was quoted as saying. “Our
sponsorship list then compared to this time around looked like a tenement
compared to the Empire State Building.”

CBS SportsLine has locked in 10 sponsors for the area: AT&T, Visa, Shell, IBM,
Budweiser, Ford, Bugle Boy, Preview Travel, Xerox, and Sony. The sponsors are
paying a $40 CPM and Mariani estimated that each will receive 10% of the 100
million impressions.

Meanwhile,, the network of sites that includes Women’s Wire, Prevention’s Healthy Ideas, and Beatrice’s Web Guide, has built an Olympic
area but has no ties to official hosts or sponsors. is tying the Olympic theme to its winterfest program, which provides
winter-related content. will offer general Olympic news, the
training secrets of Olympic athletes, the best women’s ice skating sites and
how to winterize your skin.

Olympic promotions are tied in with the site’s regular ad package. Advertisers
pay $30,000 to $70,000 for packages ranging from standard banners to
promotional giveaways, the newsletter said. Volvo is among the sponsors.

PointCast launched a Winter Games Channel
on January 26 that will run for the duration of the games. The channel will
provide live games updates and has two official games sponsors in Kodak and
IBM, and four unofficial sponsors in SAP, Mercedes Benz, Fidelity Fund, and

PointCast is hoping to capitalize on the visual effect of the games and
reportedly boosted its bandwidth 40% to 70 kilobytes. The upgrade is primarily
to accommodate Kodak, which is sponsoring a daily pictures of the Games and
the city of Nagano. IBM is sponsoring the results.

Sponsorships on the PointCast channel start at $175,000, with a commitment of
at least three showings over a four-week period. Although company officials
would not reveal specifics, they did confirm a 15% increase in traffic to
their server for the 1996 summer games, and expect at least that much this

IBM created the official Olympic Web site for the 1998 games
that builds from the official site it created for the 1996 summer games. IBM
also is providing its Net.Commerce solution for the Olympic organizing
committee to sell official merchandise online. Viewers can also send e-mails
to athletes through the site’s fan mail service.

Coca-Cola launched its own Olympic site in November, but the company
is targeting its message more to the Japanese audience than U.S. viewers. The
site is in Japanese with an icon for viewers who want it in English. Ads are
featured on Japanese search engines and Japanese TV stations.

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