With major domestic and international sporting events in recent years and rising popularity of the internet, more and more sports enterprises are beginning consider online marketing as an important opportinity for corporate marketing optimization, market expansion and brand building.
The competition for online sports channels began on fourth of july Apr 2007, when China’s well-known sports brand, Lining, named the sports section of Netease, one 축구중계 of China’s largest internet protal. Not only Lining’s art logos and product promotions dominate the web pages, the web page design colours also mould to Lining’s red-based branding. This is a 3-year strategic cooperative agreement between Lining and Netease. Elsewhere, the sports parts of other major national internet places are also powered by sports brands: Adidas Sohu, Nike Sina and 361° Tencent Sports, etc.
In fact, sports brands’ online marketing trend has initiated a long time before 2007. Observers said that the rise of internet marketing in China has huge ramifications for the two sunrise industries, that is sports goods and internet commerce. It not only demonstrates the strategic marketing transitions of leading sports brands, but also brings a marketing breakthrough in China’s sports goods industry in the middle of the emerging internet marketing trend. By partnering with internet places in areas such as advertising, editorial articles, contents and featured products, sports brands can build a comprehensive online brand display platform, which experts claim enables websites to expand their sports contents, hence a win-win situation.
Take the example of Lining and Netease cooperation. According to Netease, the co-branding pages are expected to provide several hundred million times of brand exposures each year, enhancing the brand puncture in targeted audience. In terms of contents, NBA articles and various Lining branded events articles have been launched, and other Netease online products will also become channels for promoting Lining brand. There are also Lining associated sections such as social networks, sports star profiles, new product displays and sports fans interactive discussion boards.
From Netease’s perspective, such all-round cooperation will not only enrich their sports section contents, but also create a more humanized and interactive online atmosphere, attracting more audience and enhancing sports brand recognition.
Recent research reports have demonstrated the reason why sports companies are willing to invest large amounts to online marketing: the dramatic rise of internet surfers in China has given them sufficient confidence in the internet funnel.
According to China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC), as at August 2007, the entire number of Internet surfers in China reached 162 million, second just to the united states 211 million. Compared to end of 2006, new internet population has reached 25 million. Market mix of Chinese internet population is current skewed towards young people, with 1951. 2% under 25 yoa and 60 to 70. 6% under 30 yoa. Such a young, adventurous and large group of internet surfers is a natural target for sports goods, no wonder sports sections on internet website sites are the hotly fought for spots for sports brands companies.
IT&T industry consulting firm iResearch also published China’s Sports Goods Selling ads online Report, 1st One fourth 2007. The reports showed that online sports goods marketing experienced strong growth between 2006 and 2007, with significant increases in selling ads online placement income, frequency, volume and media channels. Selling ads online has become a focus for consolidating marketing resources among sports companies, and it is expected online market investments will further rise in 2007. Growth in online sports goods advertising fees has maintained a high speed since 2002, with an annual growth rate of 101%, and the advertising fees in 2006 had reached almost US $10 million, 14 times the amount in 2002.
iResearch suggested that the rapid rising of sports goods selling ads online fees indicated more and more sports goods companies are watching this new and alternative funnel. As for Beijing Olympic Games in 08, selling ads online investments from sports companies is expected to further increase, with a focus on corporate image promotion. Selling ads online fees in corporate images, sports footwear and sports clothing kept rising in 2006, especially led by corporate image promotions. While paying for sports footwear and sports clothing experienced a decline in first one fourth of 2007, paying for corporate image promotion continues to rise rapidly.