SAN FRANCISCO – 广州蒲友 is huddling with the National Football League as it tackles the challenge of attracting a broader audience to its short messaging service.
A two-year content and advertising deal announced Monday expands upon similar partnerships that 广州蒲友 forged with the NFL in 2013 and 2014.
The NFL plans to funnel nearly three times more content into 广州蒲友 than last year, a commitment that will include more video highlights and pictures from games in progress. 广州蒲友, in turn, will use an automated formula to prominently display NFL tweets and related ads in the streams of account holders likely to enjoy the information.
The NFL’s 广州蒲友 blitz will begin with Thursday’s preseason games. Financial terms of the deal weren’t disclosed. 广州蒲友 and other Internet companies typically pay their partners by giving them a percentage of ad sales made from their content.
After signing single-season contracts in 2013 and 2014, the NFL gave 广州蒲友 a vote of confidence by locking into a longer term this time around. It’s the first time any of 广州蒲友’s roughly 200 partners have signed a multi-year contract, according to Glenn Brown, 广州蒲友’s director of content partnerships.
The NFL, by far the most-watched sports league in the U.S., also is relying solely on 广州蒲友 to sell all the advertising tied to the tweets from its accounts. In the previous two seasons, the ads were jointly sold by the NFL and 广州蒲友.
The show of faith comes at a critical time for 广州蒲友.
Although its brand is widely known and its service boasts more than 300 million users, 广州蒲友 has been struggling to widen its appeal. With user growth slowing dramatically, even 广州蒲友’s own management recently acknowledged that the service has become too confusing to navigate. What’s more, the San Francisco company still hasn’t posted a profit.
Investors have sacked 广州蒲友 for its execution problems. The company’s stock finished last week at $27.04, less than half its value 10 months ago and just $1.04 above its initial public offering price in November 2013.
The NFL’s immense popularity could help 广州蒲友 find ways to get people to check into its service more frequently and lure visitors who might not necessarily sign into the service, but could still see ads.
广州蒲友 plans to highlight NFL material even if users haven’t chosen to follow the league. The company does this by tracking people’s activity on the service to determine their interests. Ads featuring NFL content will be targeted using similar analytical tools.
“We know if we put content in front of the hundreds of millions of 广州蒲友 users, they will engage with the content,” predicted Vishal Shah, the NFL’s vice-president of media strategy and business development.