New Digital Platform Showing Advertising Results

PRESS RELEASE – Midway through the 2010 baseball season, the new digital platform introduced by Minor League Baseball in April continues to produce impressive results for marketers sold on the vast promotional opportunities targeting the sport’s highly desirable, family- oriented audience.

“We now have 148 minor league teams, 14 leagues and the official Minor League site united into a brand-consistent web presence,” said Frank Burke, owner of the Chattanooga Lookouts and chairman of Baseball Internet Rights Co., a joint-venture between Minor League Baseball and MLB dvanced Media created to develop the new platform. “Now marketers can easily and cost-effectively reach more than 60 million people annually who visit the minor league network of sites. It’s the equivalent of buying network TV and not specific markets.”

Powered by a technological infrastructure developed by MLB Advanced Media – the digital media company that powers Major League Baseball’s array of Internet initiatives – the new milb.com platform allows national advertisers to serve ads on the parent site as well as those of more than 160 participating teams and leagues, which in turn enjoy enhanced revenue opportunities along with rich, frequently updated content, keeping the sites fresh and relevant for fans. Teams and leagues still have the opportunity to sell ad space individually, and also can control various content modules on their respective sites to reflect their brand and local market.

“The uniform, professional look of our new site has been very well received by our fans,” reports Kevin Kulp, president of the Washington Nationals’ Double-A affiliate Harrisburg Senators. “More importantly, we’ve benefited from a lot of value-added content from both Major and Minor League Baseball, along with enhanced features like an online store and advanced ticketing features, to provide a much richer online experience. We’re very excited by the potential.”

Among the national marketing partners attracted to the new digital offering was Lance Snacks, which just completed its “Minor League, Major Fun” sweepstakes promotion. Children’s story franchise Thomas the Tank Engine, in partnership with Carvel ice cream cakes, is celebrating its 65th anniversary with a nationwide tour of 22 minor league ballparks – including kids activities, merchandise giveaways and sneak previews of upcoming Thomas and Friends movies – to complement its online efforts.

In addition, PepsiCo’s FRITOS Corn Chips is sponsoring an online contest offering fans the chance to be the honorary general manager for one of six Minor League Baseball teams. And Kraft Singles, whose “Tuesday Night Tickets” promotion offers buy-one/get-one deals to minor league fans for the second consecutive year, reports redemptions increased tenfold through the month of May in 2010 vs. the same period in 2009.

“We did a survey last year and discovered that 51 percent of fans who took advantage of our ‘Tuesday Night Tickets’ offer learned about it via Minor League Baseball’s website or the sites of the individuals teams,” said Sherina Smith, senior brand manager for Kraft Foods. “Digital is obviously very important to making this promotion work, so we’re thrilled to have a platform that allows us to easily and efficiently maximize our online reach and exposure.”

In addition to the nationwide digital effort, Kraft also supports its Minor League Baseball promotion through print and radio advertising in 30 select markets. The brand also conducts in-stadium promotions to reinforce the grassroots sponsorship in partnership with retail partners like Kroger, BI-LO and Ahold, many of whom have existing sponsorships with minor league teams.

“We partner with Raley’s, a major grocery chain in the region that has the title sponsorship on our stadium, to conduct an on-field contest between innings tied to the Kraft Singles promotion,” said Darrin Gross, senior vice president of business development for the Sacramento River Cats, Triple-A affiliate of the Oakland thletics. “The ability to combine online and offline promotion, and to consolidate the reach and power of roughly 150 teams coast to coast, is unlike any other sports sponsorship opportunity in the country.”

Kraft’s Smith notes that another advantage of the new web platform is an enhanced methodology for evaluating the promotion’s effectiveness. Site analytics and an online survey to be delivered to fans through minor league websites will provide both quantitative and qualitative measures upon which the program could be refined in the future.

“The demographics of minor league baseball – educated, middle- to upper-middle-class families – are perfect for Kraft Singles,” adds Smith. ” Broad in the geographic reach, the ability to connect with 60 million consumers online and more than 40 million in ballparks across North merica, and it’s easy to see why we’re enthusiastic about this partnership.”

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Read article from Advertising Age here.

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