SBD/Issue 221/Sponsorships, Advertising & Marketing

ESPN Next Month To Debut Contextual Pop-Up Ads On Web Site College Football Videos Will Feature
New Contextual Advertising System
ESPN is planning to debut a “contextual advertising system next month within college football videos on,” according to David Goetzl of MEDIAPOST. ESPN’s ad team is “starting to seek out advertisers” for the program developed by Australia-based Demand Sport, which features brief ads that “surface while a video continues to roll.” For example, a Denny’s ad for its “signature breakfast immediately pops up when a player is shown hitting a grand slam.” The pop-up ads can be a “banner across the bottom of the screen, or a larger ‘flyout’ that appears to the left of the video.” ESPN is “likely to avoid a third execution -- where text is overlaid on the screen -- since research shows it could prompt a negative reaction from viewers.” Producers who assemble the highlight packages “tag where the pop-up ads should be placed.” The video is then “sped electronically to Demand Sport’s nerve center in Australia,” and the ads are “inserted there and the finished package is returned to ESPN and posted on its site.” Demand Sport has been “developing the costly ad-serving system for four years,” and ESPN is the “first customer to license it, offering a high-profile launching pad.” ESPN sales execs are “considering packages where advertisers can control the full inventory on a particular day.” ESPN/ABC Sports Customer Marketing & Sales President Ed Erhardt: “We’re trying to say that the best way to use this is to take advantage of the context.” Pilson Communications President Neal Pilson said the system gives ESPN “another way of maximizing value in a very competitive marketplace” (, 8/4).  

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