Sci-Fi makes key Yahoo! buy

Nov 11, 2002  •  Post A Comment

Sci-Fi Channel is taken with Yahoo!’s Web site.
The cable network has made a major purchase to advertise on the mega-popular site the night before and the day-Dec. 8-of the premiere
of the Steven Spielberg-produced 10-day miniseries “Taken.” The object is to drive tune-in to the miniseries by reaching potential viewers through their computer screens at work.
It’s the latest example of a new network marketing and advertising trend: tune-in messages targeting online.
“We’ve got the mantle. We’ve got Yahoo! Movies, Yahoo! TV, Yahoo! Mail, Yahoo! Chat and My Yahoo!,” said Dave Howe, Sci-Fi’s senior VP for marketing and creative. We’re anticipating in the region of 80 [million] to 90 million impressions.”
The centerpiece of the Yahoo! effort is the so-called “mantle” on the Yahoo! home page, which is a large, usually horizontal ad-unit window with animation and video capabilities, where advertisers tout everything from Ford trucks to the latest Hollywood theatrical blockbuster.
It’s the first time a cable network has bought the Yahoo! mantle, according to a Yahoo! spokesman.
A typical Yahoo! home page buy will run anywhere from a minimum of $150,000 to $200,000 for a smaller box ad to between $400,000 and $600,000 for a “rich media” mantle ad, and that ad typically will appear for about a 24-hour period, according to an Internet insider. Sci-Fi’s marketing campaign for “Taken” is by far its biggest ever, Mr. Howe said. The “Taken” campaign encompasses everything from national broadcast and national cable to spot cable and out-of-home, and even includes theatrical trailers that will be shown before the latest “Harry Potter” film, “Solaris” and “Analyze That.”
However, the Yahoo! home page tune-in takeover is “mission critical,” Mr. Howe said. “The whole plan builds to the tune-in. … That’s when Yahoo! comes to the fore … when people are coming back from the holidays, checking their e-mail, going to the site.”
Yahoo!’s home page alone tallies 75 million impressions per day, said Jim Moloshok, a veteran TV executive who is Yahoo!’s senior VP of media, entertainment, information and finance. Those impressions translate into approximately 13 million unique people, which means the average Yahoo! home page user comes back to the Yahoo! home page five or six times per day. In other words, the day of “Taken’s” big debut, Sci-Fi will be reaching out to potential viewers in one of the few places they’re apt to be paying close attention-in front of their office computer screens.
“Our prime time for usage is, in effect, between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. at work,” Mr. Moloshok said. “The computer has become the television of the workplace.”
Since the start of the fall season, TV networks have been increasingly turning to online efforts to broadcast their message to young demos. Networks that have advertised their programming with Yahoo! include ABC, Comedy Central, HGTV, Fox (which recently touted the debut of the new “24” season in a co-branded promotion with Ford), UPN (which this season has touted the launches of “Haunted” and “Twilight Zone” and promoted “Buffy” for the November sweeps) and USA Network (which has promoted “Monk” and “Dead Zone”).
An ad buy on Yahoo!’s home page typically will also include a presence on other pages and in Yahoo! areas where the target demo gathers, such as the entertainment directory or the movie or TV page. The buy can get much more specific than the age- and gender-based demo buys of the most targeted TV.
“Eighty-five million unique domestic viewers per month come to Yahoo!,” Mr. Moloshok said. “About 50 million of them have given us demographic information, so we know their ZIP code, their age, their demos. … They also say, `This is what I’m interested in.”’
Some of those Yahoo! customers set up custom TV listings for themselves or look for movies in their home areas, so Yahoo! also learns who their cable provider is and in which ZIP codes they live.
“We’re able to save this; we’re also able to model it,” Mr. Moloshok said. “We’re able to identify you by what genre of television program or movie you like, so somebody can come to us and say, `I only want men 25 to 29 who are interested in entertainment and like dramas. You can’t buy that in any other medium. And we have their ad appear in front of only those individuals.”