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Volume 21 No. 2
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USOC to pitch digital deals ahead of Sochi Games

The U.S. Olympic Committee’s push to sell digital advertising to non-Olympic sponsors begins in earnest this week at the organization’s first “newfront,” a presentation of advertising inventory on to some 300 media buyers in New York.

The presentation, which will be held Tuesday at Conrad New York in Soho, will be led by USOC chief marketer Lisa Baird and Michael O’Conor, senior director of business development. The organization has been trying to boost its digital sales revenue ever since it relaunched a new website in 2012 and saw its monthly unique visitors spike during the London Games by more than 82 percent to 2.5 million.

“We’ve been growing our media capabilities over the years and this ‘newfront’ is a manifestation of that growth overall,” O’Conor said. “We’ve seen 350 percent growth since 2010 with our assets, and we’re going to use Sochi as a springboard to have even more growth.”

Baird and O’Conor will pitch five presenting sponsorships on its “Road to Sochi” digital program. The first is a virtual pin-trading game called “Pinsanity.” The game is based on Facebook where people can trade virtual pins with friends. The game, which was designed by digital game maker Brandissimo, will launch 100 days before the Sochi Games.

In addition to the “Pinsanity” presenting sponsorship, the USOC is looking to find advertisers for behind-the-scenes video of athlete interviews and celebrations from USA House; a “Road to Sochi” mobile and tablet application; a social media hub that compiles social activity of athletes; and “Continue the Momentum,” a multimedia series on athletes as they return home and visit the White House after the Olympics.

A sales deck that the organization issued late last year for display advertising was asking for $10,000 to $50,000 a year for advertising and guaranteed buyers 800,000 to 4.2 million impressions, but O’Conor said the company is shifting the way it sells digital advertising. He said the pricing for those opportunities will range from $5 per thousand views (CPM) to $25 per thousand views (CPM) depending on the content.

The organization already has secured “Road to Sochi” advertising support from its current sponsors Liberty Mutual, Hilton, Smucker’s, Coca-Cola, United, Folgers, Jif, Chobani, Budweiser, AT&T, Kellogg’s, The Hartford and Topps.
The USOC last year began selling advertising to sponsors and nonsponsors across its digital network, which includes 20-plus national governing body websites. The organization doesn’t plan to sell advertising to competitors of its 31 existing sponsors.