SBN Magazine (Smart Business Network)
Attract new advertisers to your Web site by offering a package of opportunities for their name to be seen and heard by new customers directed to their business or Web site.
By Morgan Lewis Jr.
It's minutes away from noon and Tony Rizzo is wrapping up his live sports Web cast on thesportsking.com. He and his co-host take verbal swipes at Cleveland Indians third baseman Russell Branyan, whose future with the team is uncertain after an uninspiring performance last year. Rizzo doesn't put it quite so tactfully.
"This dude has been a bust," Rizzo shouts into his 1940's-style microphone, which is then blasted around the world on digital audio and video via the internet. "At some point you've got to be able to put the bat to the ball. This guy is a freakin' home run hitter, and he only hit eight of them all last year."
Rizzo's brash style is a home run on the Web. His show, which he splits between his duties as the 6 and 10 o'clock Sports anchor on Cleveland's Fox Television affiliate, is by far the most popular program on thesportsking.com. The site Web casts original local sports programming throughout the workday (9am - 5pm) and draws over 1.4 million visitors a month (as of February 2002). The site shot out of the gate in September of 2000 with 66,000 vistors (for the month) and has never looked back.
"66,000 was an encouraging start," says thesportsking.com President Thomas Mercadante. "We now exceed that everyday and we continue to grow. Every month, without exception, those numbers have dramatically increased. The sky is the limit."
Those climbing numbers are also attracting advertisers, which is how the site draws revenue. Even though advertising-only as an Internet business strategy has been maligned by experts for more than a year now, Mercadante says he's profitable and has been for more than six months. That's profitable with no VC-funding and no Angel Investors. Mercadante is entirely self-funded.
So how does a man survive on ads alone? It's in the package. Here is what draws advertisers to thesportsking.com.
Clickable banner and tile ads get a predictable response. On a national average, advertisers can expect about 1 to 2 percent of visitors who see their tile or banner ad to click on them. But on thesportsking.com that response rate is much higher, closer to 4 to 5 percent. What sets them apart is due to the frequency that the advertiser receives via the Webcast element of Mercadante's business plan.
At thesportsking.com sponsors are part of the programs, not as faceless advertisers, but as personalities. Scott Merk from Merk's Ticket Agency Inc. calls in to tell Rizzo what sports events are coming to the Greater Cleveland area. Huge banners from advertisers, like Mountain Jack's Restaurant, serve as the studio backdrop for the live video Webcasts.
"I call it 'Media Stacking', If you expose potential consumers with an attractive message with an incentive, compounded with tremendous frequency, consumers will respond," Mercadante says. "But you've got to do it intelligently, creatively and credibly. We present our advertisers message at least five different ways."
"With the emerging technologies available on the internet and the support and expertise of our web hoster/designer Tom Roberts at CM-D.com, thesportsking.com allows new advertisers, a cost-effective way to dramatically increase traffic to their business.
Mercadante offers advertisers traditional tile and banner "click-on" advertising (to their website or info page), packaged with LIVE on-air webcast commercials, either promotional copy read by one of the Webcast hosts, pre-recorded spots "performed" by the webhost of their choice, or the option to run their own existing TV commercial. Over and above those attractive options, thesportsking.com also provides Web TV in-studio signage, all at extremely cost-effective rates.
"All of our advertisers have received very favorable responses, our visitors to thesportsking.com are very loyal and patronize our sponsors". A pleased Mercadante understated.
Morgan Lewis Jr. (email@example.com) is senior reporter at SBN Magazine.