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With athletes, teams and leagues gobbling up millions of Twitter followers, it was only a matter of time before a monetization service catered specifically to the sports world popped up.
|Memphis Grizzlies forward Rudy Gay is one of the first athletes to sign on with FanWaves.|
The service, which launched April 9, is the brainchild of Octagon Digital, the company behind Twackle -- a platform that now aggregates relevant and popular sports links from Twitter, which we've touched on in this space previously.
The Knicks' and Suns' official Twitter accounts are early adopters of the ad network, as are NBA stars Chris Paul and Rudy Gay, among others. The hook on FanWaves is a clever one: Instead of sending out sponsored tweets hawking products or brands that could feel impersonal coming from an athlete or team to fans, the focus of the network is on placing ads near the top of your browser on links that are tweeted by an account using FanWaves.
As an example: If Gay tweets a photo of himself via a link, the ad surfaces on top of the destination page once a user clicks through. Because banner ads and the like are present on a large swath of Web pages to begin with, it feels more natural, and keeps the advertising out of a follower's stream.
Coincidentally, Twitter on Tuesday unveiled its new advertising model called "Promoted Tweets." On Wednesday, I talked with Jim DeLorenzo, vice president of Octagon Digital, to find out more about FanWaves.
"If all of a sudden an ad is inserted into that Twitter stream, it rubs a lot of people the wrong way. And the last thing that we want to do is have a team or an athlete or a league offend any of their followers or fans through ads that are pushed out through the system. As an athlete or a publisher, it's an option -- you can send them out straight through the stream -- but we advise them not to.
"That's why we focus more on our top-bar ad, which is the ad that gets inserted into the page that you navigate to when you click on a link within an athlete's tweet."
"But to do something on FanWaves, you're going to be able to have a much lower cost structure in place because they're still tweeting -- you're not asking them to do anything different than they're doing already. It's not quite the same relationship as if an athlete is becoming an endorser of a product.
"So I think this actually opens up the sports marketing world to a lot of sponsors who previously would not be able to associate themselves with that professional athlete or professional sports team."
"It's dynamic based on the number of followers you have. It's a much more expensive cost associated with that guy that has the million followers as opposed to 1,000 followers.
"When the advertiser comes in and they want to spend $10,000 or $20,000 or $100,000 on a particular campaign and they're looking at different athletes, they will be able to choose an athlete and in real time see -- based on the number of followers this athlete has -- how much money you the advertiser wants to pay. And this is how long that campaign would run for … this is how many tweets you would get from that campaign."
"Twitter just announced its own advertising network, which I think is great and makes a lot of sense for them. I don't think that what we're doing would in any way conflict with what they're doing. They're putting the ads within a Twitter search and we clearly are not even coming close to doing anything like that."
Ryan Corazza is a freelance writer and Web designer based in Chicago.