Oct 23, 2009 at 06:24 PM
written by

Are College Sports Headed The Way of the Online Ad Network?

I wanted to throw something out for discussion and I hope some of you will weigh in with your $.02. Recently, we've heard a considerable amount of chatter (both good and bad) about major sports marketing agencies making an entrance into the college sports space. First, the good... it's widely assumed that colleges will derive more revenue from the marketing muscle that these agencies bring to the table. The basic crux of "the bad" rests on the fact that with agencies seeking to recoup guaranteed revenue from AOR contracts, the best interests of students, fans and local businesses might be overlooked. Here are two cases to consider:

Ivies Get Their Marketing Bucks, Too

How Closely Should Health Care Services be Tied to Sponsorship?

Are college sports squeezing out loyal, local partners in favor of a quick paycheck from more distant and perhaps less relevant national sponsors?


An appropriate equivalent to this situation could be the online ad network. If you're not familiar, these are online companies that group together sites around a common interest and sell them in aggregate to national advertisers.

Sure, these networks may provide access to higher ad rates, but the ads it delivers may not be as appropriate to the environment or add as much value to the visitor experience. Read this through - here is one really good explanation of the dilemma small to medium size media properties face:

An Important Message About the Ads on TechSideline.com

This Virginia Tech-focused website has proposed a way whereby they can benefit from the higher revenue of national sponsors, but yet still deliver more tailored and relevant ads from smaller, local partners.

Part of me says that major sponsors (and their agencies) wouldn't sign six figure deals unless they knew that they could provide a deep and well-activated experience to each school's "tribe" (better or equal to the current local sponsors, and at a higher revenue for schools). Afterall, basic logic suggests that if a sponsor doesn't activate the deal, they won't exceed an expected hurdle rate for ROI and probably won't renew in the long term, particularly in this spending climate.

The other part of me questions whether there is a scenario whereby both Ronzio Pizza and Subs and Domino's Pizza could happily co-exist as sponsors of the Brown University athletic department?

What do you think? Is there/should there be a happy medium between local/national sponsors at the college level or is this an all or nothing scenario of category exclusivity?

photo source: enviroturfservices.com