Online Ad Spend Tied To Olympics Expected To Reach $100 Million: Lehman

imageOf the $1.5 billion that marketers are expected to spend on advertising tied to the summer Olympic games, only $100 million will go towards online, said Lehman Brothers internet analyst Doug Anmuth during a conference call the investment bank hosted. Naturally, NBC and its marketing partner Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT), stand to benefit the most from the related digital ad spend. But Anmuth expects Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO) and AOL (NYSE: TWX) to leverage interest in the games, which kicks off in Beijing on Friday, for their sites and should also see some ad dollars heading their way as well. To a lesser extent, Google (NSDQ: GOOG) should benefit somewhat from search activity and from the Olympics highlights that YouTube will be showing as well.

The shift to digital: A large part of the Olympics’ revenue will be incremental, said Art Ventura, SVP, ad sales, for Cablevision’s (NYSE: CVC) MSG Media. He and Brad Adgate, SVP, research for Horizon Media, noted the weak ad economy will surely have some impact. And so, NBC has to price aggressively, therefore each unit is producing less revenue than it might have been expected. Secondly, because of the panoply of choices from cable to digital, the ad market surrounding the Olympics is not that tight anymore, even in the midst of a presidential campaign.

Sports’ strength: Art Ventura, SVP, ad sales, for Cablevision’s MSG Media: “Obviously, the economy is a question mark for everybody. But sports doesn’t have much a of DVR issue around it; people want to watch it as soon as they can, not later. Olympics is still a safe harbor for ad dollars, as are most sports.”

Digital packages: How will other online outlets affect NBC’s take? Mike Shields, Mediaweek’s senior editor, digital, said he doesn’t think the NBC will have to worry about competition from other sites taking away audience from For example, YouTube will only have about three hours a night, while MSN will direct users back to NBC’s website. He did say he was surprised that the network didn’t go after long-tail sports for the website or that it tended to avoid internet-only advertisers.

Sponsors drive ad spend: In a report that accompanied the call, Lehman compared past ad sales levels and concluded that official sponsors of the Olympic Games are buying roughly 50 percent of the available ad inventory both on television and online. Telecom, soft drinks, corporate imaging and movies are showing strong interest. Retail advertisers supporting