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Rocketboom Takes Off: Earthlink and TRM are First Advertisers

February 17, 2006

SAN FRANCISCO -- Rocketboom is a popular video blog, or vlog, a daily three-minute snarkfest done out of New York. It has 130,000 regular viewers and is hosted by Amanda Congdon. So what's the draw for advertisers? A young, tech-savvy demographic. And apparently such snarkiness is about to pay off.

Automated teller-machine maker TRM has won Rocketboom's eBay auction; it'll pay $40,000 for five 15-second mentions during the week of March 6. But after the auction dust settled, EarthLink struck a deal to be the second Rocketboom advertiser, with its ads appearing during Rocketboom's broadcast the week of March 13. Ever eager to reach such a tech-savvy audience, EarthLink is diversifying its media mix, with ever-more spending going toward what it terms “alternative media.”

During the fourth quarter of 2005 and first quarter of 2006, EarthLink started buying lead-generation tags on TiVo, XM and Sirius satellite radio ads. So far in 2006, it has ventured into podcasts and video-on-demand with TNT, TB, and HGTV. But perhaps its biggest gamble will come next month when it pays to be the second advertiser on Rocketboom and lets the twenty-something creators of the show conceive and execute the ads for EarthLink and air them in March.

“Our key target is the tech-savvy early adopter,” said Scott Thomas, director of media and messaging for EarthLink. “We want to be cutting-edge and we want to extend beyond traditional media.” Thomas said that TV and out-of-home would still be part of the strategic mix, but that “nontraditional advertising is a growing percentage of our budget and an increasingly important part of our mix." Such nontraditional advertising might be cheaper and riskier, but Rocketboom's creator argues it's good for the right advertisers.

"Advertising with us has extra value, because we aren't going to accept advertising from someone whose morals are against us, someone like Hummer," said Rocketboom producer Andrew Baron. The creators of the show are acting as ad agency as well as media for the ads for TRM and EarthLink. "We've got to approve the ads and if we like them, chances are our viewers will like 'em." Baron said he decided they'd show ads at the end of the broadcast of the daily show. They will also consider airing pre-made commercials if they meet his and co-host Amanda Congdon's "creative standards."

Baron and EarthLink are in discussions about the content of the commercials, which will be 15- to 60-second mentions at the end of the 3-minute show. Thomas says his team hopes to get a specific phone number or URL in the ad so they can track sales and see how effective the ads are. Expect to see EarthLink continue to look for cutting-edge ad vehicles like this.

“You'll see the strategy of continue throughout 2006,” said Thomas. “We want to connect on a meaningful way and want a richer interaction with our target [than out-of-home and network provide].”

From January to November 2005, EarthLink spent $56 million, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus; $38 million was spent on TV during those 11 months. Thomas said EarthLink's agency Mediavest is constantly looking for alternate forms of advertising vehicles.

--Diane Anderson


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1-click access to topics in this article.

Amanda Congdon
Scott Thomas
Andrew Baron
Diane Anderson

Earthlink Inc.
E-Bay Inc.

nontraditional advertising
creators of the show
buying lead-generation tags
cutting-edge ad vehicles
advertising vehicles

Television advertising
Product placement

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