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Salon.com Uses Direct Response to Lure Hits

Salon.com, in an agreement with Rainbow Media Holdings Inc, Bethpage, NY, has announced sponsorship for 13 episodes of the nationally televised “Burt Wolf: Travels & Traditions” beginning in April.

The agreement will allow Salon.com’s sales force to sell advertising space around the show and create sponsorship packages for advertisers on its online properties and in relationship to the popular travel and food author’s public television program.

“We are kindred spirits in our approach to media and the demography of our audiences. It is a mutually beneficial partnership,” said Patrick Hurley, vice president of marketing at Salon.com, San Francisco. “More and more television stations are acquiring or working with Internet companies in an exchange of advertising and ideas.”

The venture will include a direct response portion of the show where a graphic with the Salon.com site address will appear and Wolf will direct viewers to the Salon.com network and Salon.com’s travel site. Once they reach the site, viewers can read Wolf’s new weekly travel column, view past episodes of the program and link to any of the sites that are a part of the Salon.com network.

“We see a great opportunity here in Burt Wolf’s endorsement of our site,” Hurley said. “He has a very loyal and passionate relationship with his audience that we are proud to be a part of.”

Salon.com also is in the midst of plans to re-organize the site and possibly allow consumers to buy products online.

“As we move further into e-commerce, the ability to directly purchase Burt Wolf’s books from our site is a possibility,” Hurley said. “But as of now it is not on the table.”

The endeavor continues a new and increasingly vital aspect of DRTV – marketing of a Web site in lieu of a specific, tangible product.

“We are definitely going to see more of this,” Hurley said. “There may not be a specific product to call up and buy, but this is a direct response approach with a definite call to action. It can’t just be an image builder – something has to happen – in this case, driving traffic to our Web site and hopefully to our sponsors.”

The agreement between the two companies arises out of a deal completed in December in which Rainbow, a division of Cablevision Systems Corp., purchased a 10 percent stake in Salon.com and both agreed to jointly sell advertising space and develop new programming for Rainbow’s cable subsidiaries, which include Bravo, The History Channel and the Independent Film channel, among others.

Plans are in the works between the two companies to create a television show for Bravo that will focus on and enhance the personality and content of the Salon.com site.

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