SOURCE: Adify

October 30, 2007 09:45 ET

Yardbarker, Inc. Creates Online Vertical Ad Network for Sports Enthusiasts

Sports Fans and Athlete Blogs Create New Opportunities for Advertisers

EMERYVILLE, CA--(Marketwire - October 30, 2007) - By building the first-of-its kind network of professional athlete and sports fan blogs and through its new partnership with Adify Corporation, Yardbarker has created a premium online advertising platform that provides advertisers access to a previously elusive audience of sports fans.

Currently, 1.5 million unique users visit the Yardbarker Blogger Network each month for news, commentary and sports information they cannot get through mainstream sports news outlets. The Network consists of more than 140 popular independent sports blogs, as well as blogs written by star athletes, including Donovan McNabb, Ray Lewis, Baron Davis, John Lackey and the NBA's number one pick Greg Oden, among many others. Adify provides Yardbarker with the infrastructure and services to create, manage and commercialize vertical advertising solutions benefiting both advertisers and content creators.

"The Yardbarker Blogger Network is comprised of sites that reach the new generation of sports fans who prefer the witty, biased content they get from sports blogs over the 'objective' reporting found on mainstream sports sites like ESPN.com," said Pete Vlastelica, co-founder of Yardbarker. "This is a highly coveted audience for many advertisers and our network is the most efficient way for a sports marketer to expose their campaign to these readers."

In addition to its Blogger Network, Yardbarker has developed a rapidly growing community of athlete bloggers, which is changing the way athletes communicate with sports fans.

"By creating this passionate sports community, Yardbarker allows athletes to connect directly with a very active fan base and that's what made this opportunity so attractive to me," said Lewis, a future Hall of Fame linebacker for the Baltimore Ravens. "I now have the ability to not only deliver my messages in a way they were meant to be delivered but also respond to the many questions and comments I get from the fans. It creates a very interactive experience that can be rewarding for any athlete."

This direct communications vehicle and the increase in fan and athlete-written blogs is changing how sports fans get news and information. Eighty-six percent spend as much or more time on sports blogs relative to mainstream sports news and information sites, according to a recent Yardbarker survey. As a result, popular brands are changing the ways they communicate with consumers to get maximum reach and return on their marketing dollars.

"Yardbarker is offering advertisers creative, customized programs that insert brands into conversations between athletes and their fans," said Mark Goodrich, Marketing Manager for video game developer 2K Sports. "Our program with Yardbarker was designed to build on our existing relationship with Greg Oden for College Hoops 2K8 and to reach a large audience within the demographic that we target. This is the kind of thing Yardbarker does very well."

Yardbarker is powered by Adify's Build Your Own Network (BYON) technology. This infrastructure is capable of delivering content sponsorships, video, image and rich media advertising. Additionally, Adify provides the key network management services required to execute successful advertising campaigns, including ad management, tracking, reporting, billing, payment and technical support functions.

"Sports fans have always been the ultimate niche communities, as passions run deep around sports, leagues, teams and players. As Web-based communities continue to pull them away from mainstream sports information outlets, advertisers need a way to target them with premium, branded advertising," says Russ Fradin, CEO at Adify. "Yardbarker and other vertical ad networks engage niche audiences and thought leaders more effectively than remnant, behavioral or contextual offerings."

Yardbarker's Blogger Network has benefited publisher partners by providing an ad serving engine, relevant brand advertisements to enrich their Web site visitors' experience, and a dedicated sales team that works in partnership with each site's existing advertising sales efforts to drive revenue opportunities.

"It's no contest, really. The 79 cents a day from Google was great -- I could afford a Value Meal at Wendy's on the third Tuesday of each month, and that's with a million page views rolling in every month," said lead blogger in residence at The Big Lead a popular sports blog. "Then Yardbarker came along and I'm wining and dining the wife at non-fast food chains once a week!"

About Yardbarker

Yardbarker is a sports website that allows famous athletes and fans to debate, read and write about sports, with opinions that are always unfiltered and generally biased. Greg Oden, Baron Davis, Ray Lewis and Donovan McNabb are a few of the athletes who actively blog and submit content on Yardbarker. The Yardbarker Blogger Network includes hundreds of sports websites and blogs, which allows fans to more easily track all of their favorite sports, teams and players in one place.

About Adify

Adify Corporation makes it easy for online publishers to build expert vertical advertising networks and create niche online communities for their advertising partners to target. Adify offers marketers the reach of a branded advertising network with the control of a one-stop, direct buy. The company delivers a unique mix of technology, expertise and key business services that expedite time to market for new, brand-driven, expert vertical advertising networks. Entrepreneurs and global media partners such as Comcast Corp., The Guardian, HotChalk, Houseblogs, NBC Universal, Shelter Media, Time Warner, The Washington Post Co. and Yardbarker are using Adify's solutions to extend their brands, increase their reach and grow their revenue. Adify was founded by the team that created Flycast Communications -- the first successful direct-response online advertising solution -- and is backed by blue-chip venture firms Venrock Associates and U.S. Venture Partners, as well as GE Commercial Finance, NBC Universal, Inc., and Time Warner Investments.

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