CBS to advertise on AOL

Portal executives have touted television as a crucial advertising medium, but it seems that the tables are beginning to turn.

Jim Hu Staff Writer, CNET News.com
Jim Hu
covers home broadband services and the Net's portal giants.
Jim Hu
2 min read
While executives in the portal industry have touted television as a crucial medium for advertising their services, it seems that the tables are beginning to turn.

Networks are now looking to portals to provide the same commercial magic.

Television's CBS this week announced that it will be a featured sponsor on America Online's proprietary network, in hopes of promoting its television shows to new audiences.

Already, portal companies such as Infoseek and Snap have formed equity partnerships with major media companies Disney and NBC, respectively. Executives from both firms have said the partnerships give them the branding that each one needs to gain a competitive edge over heavyweights Yahoo and Excite. (Snap is a joint venture between NBC and CNET: The Computer Network, publisher of News.com.)

However, the reverse may be increasingly true.

The promotion will last for nine days beginning Saturday, when AOL will feature the network using ad banners throughout its service, including its welcome screen, email screens, and content areas, such as Entertainment Asylum. CBS also will promote its television programs by featuring TV stars in live chat rooms during this period.

The move is way to promote CBS TV shows, which have traditionally targeted older audiences, to a "younger and hipper audience," said Patrick Keane, an analyst at Jupiter Communications.

For AOL, the deal underscores the online giant's ever-increasing appeal to companies looking to advertise on the Internet. AOL has continuously touted its subscriber base--now more than 13 million strong--using the figure to ink multiyear, multimillion-dollar deals with companies for exclusive placement in areas on its site and within its proprietary service.

It seems that Internet players increasingly are more desirable destinations for promotion. While television may remain a potential source for mass-market promotion of an Internet brand, traditional media are beginning to view the Internet as an equivalent tool for reaching a wealthier, more tech-savvy demographic.

"CBS has long been seen as a stodgy, older network, and by advertising on AOL they can attract a more demographically desirable audience," Keane said. "CBS is trying to be in same category as NBC."