Banners Injected With Star Power

NEW YORK In traditional advertising, celebrities have long been used to garner attention. Now, online marketers can go the glitzy route as well.

Brand Affinity Technologies is matching celebrities with advertisers for display ads at a low cost. Currently the list consists of pro athletes, with the company having inked deals with over 1,400 players from various sports.

Brand Affinity’s library of digital photos and videos can be dropped into banner placements. Advertisers can find what areas of the country the star is hot in through a celebrity-ranking algorithm that combs online sources for buzz. The CPM for use of the images is between $1 and $2.50. A 10-million impression campaign featuring someone like All-Pro quarterback Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints would cost $25,000.

“Most advertisers’ perception is it would cost them $500,000 to get into endorsement advertising,” said Allie Savarino Kline, vp of marketing at Brand Affinity.

Online ticket seller StubHub used the system to run display ads for local events. The ads featured the Chicago Bears’ Devin Hester, former Baltimore Orioles great Brooks Robinson and other athletes. Another advertiser, LegalZoom, used athletes including the Philadelphia Eagles’ Hank Baskett and New York Giants’ Brandon Jacobs in banners. Celebs can accept or reject all offers and creative.

In a way, Brand Affinity hopes to do for endorsement marketing what Spot Runner is trying to do for TV. It’s using stock creative and an online platform to strip out inefficiencies. Brand Affinity’s founders, Chad and Ryan Steelberg, founded dMarc, a digital buying platform for radio advertising that Google bought in 2006. Google shut down the service, renamed Google Audio, in February.