Microsoft Teams Up With Celebrity Athletes

Nike-The Second ComingBrand Affinity Technologies -- which is in the business of matching mostly pro athletes with online advertisers--has announced Microsoft Advertising as its first preferred online publisher portal.

"Advertisers can quickly create star-studded campaigns that improve online ad performance, while Microsoft helps connect them with audiences who seek new ways to associate with their favorite celebrities," says Keith Lorizio, vice president of U.S. ad sales at Microsoft Advertising.

Launched in beta late last year, BAT has already assembled a network of about 1,400 pro athletes available to advertisers for far less than typical celebrity endorsers. "Endorsement marketing has traditionally been more gut instinct than science," says Allie Savarino, vice president of marketing at Brand Affinity Technologies. "Our data-supported method removes much of the risk and guesswork involved."

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Clients include Web-based ticket seller StubHub, which works with BAT to run display ads for local events, and LegalZoom.

According to BAT, campaigns with pro athlete endorsers are delivering 13.5 times average conversion rates and 3.5 times average click-through rates. A recent study conducted by Insight Express found that celebrity endorsements have remained relevant in an increasingly digital world.

Indeed, when banner ads featuring video and still images of pro athletes were tested against the same ads with no endorsement, the study found a 180% increase in unaided brand awareness, along with a 56% improvement in message association, where participants correctly absorbed the attributes of tested products and services.

In addition, the study found a 39% improvement in brand favorability and a 27% increase in purchase intent.

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