GolfServ Links to 100 Sites, Seeks Additional Partners

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GolfServ Online Inc., Chicago, launched a free Web site on March 15 with content including information on courses, playing tips and equipment for sale. Golf enthusiasts can access it at www.golfserv.com or through 100 sites of online publishers with which GolfServ has licensing deals.


"We have built a fully integrated, fully branded suite of content and services that helps golfers better manage their game," said Kathryn E. Savarese, the 28-year-old president of the start-up. "Our goal is to help other publishers on the World Wide Web stick golfers to their sites."


Toward that goal, GolfServ bills itself as "The Sticky Golf Company," a term it will use in all advertising and marketing efforts.


Founded last fall, GolfServ targets the more than 30 million golfers in the U.S. market, and particularly players who play on public courses.


"Our focus is toward the recreational golfers who earn $60,000 a year and play an average 12 rounds annually," said Savarese, whose prior position as director of business development, marketing and PR at interactive agency Giant Step had her dealing with clients such as United Airlines, General Motors' Oldsmobile division, Kellogg Co. and Hallmark Inc.


Features of the Web site include GameTrack, which allows golfers to monitor their handicaps and playing performances; VirtualPro, offering personalized lessons from golf instructors; ClubHouse, where visitors interact; ProShop, with golf-related products for sale; and information on 17,000 golf courses worldwide.


Key distribution partners include the Web sites of Denver's Rocky Mountain News, the Boston Herald, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune and the Florida Times-Union, as well as the Internet superstore Mam-mothGolf.com.


"GolfServ will be key in helping us retain our current users who play golf," said Rob Curley, manager of content development at Morris Communications Corp.


Morris Communications' 29 daily newspaper sites have access to a customized version of the GolfServ site, Curley added. Elements of GolfServ's site will be added to the publisher's existing Masters and Florida Swing PGA sites, recreational Web offerings such as KansasGolf.com, and its online travel guides.


Though GolfServ has yet to select an advertising agency, it hopes to break a campaign this summer in golfing publications and mainstream newspapers.


"We are going to start off with print, focusing on our target audience - and depending on the buzz we get, we'll go on TV," Savarese said.


In addition, GolfServ soon will mail 4,000 postcards to online publishers and potential advertisers, selling the virtues of the wealthy demographic it is targeting.


Advertisers who opt for a full banner rotation will be charged a gross cost per thousand (CPM) of $25 for 100,000 impressions a month, declining to a CPM of $22.50 for three months. The rate decreases further as the impressions rise. Signing up for the sponsorship banner program across the GolfServ network will cost $20,000 for one month and $16,000 for three months.


Savarese declined to disclose revenue projections but said efforts were on to sign advertisers while continuing to strike strategic affiliate relationships with other online marketers.


Attracting visitors to GolfServ, of course, is uppermost on her mind.


"The challenge really is going to be continuously providing interactive services that golfers like," she said. "It's one thing to provide a great set of tools to golfers and another thing to keep adding to them."
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