Yahoo! tests advertiser-funded TV

Yahoo! is producing a TV programme to air at primetime to profile its sponsorship of the Fifa World Cup.

It is the first time that the internet company has marketed itself through advertiser-funded programming (AFP).

The World Cup-themed shows, produced by Flawless Media in partnership with Optimedia UK, will air on ITV1 from Friday 24 May.

Lindsay Biggart, the director of marketing at Yahoo! UK & Ireland, said: "Rather than spend huge amounts of money on television spots we came up with the idea of producing advertiser-funded programming."

"It's an integrated campaign. Online will play a key role as well as print and TV ads. We are using it as a test to see if AFP works for us," Biggart added.

Your World Cup Pitch offers six hardcore England supporters the chance to pitch to a live TV audience for a ticket to the World Cup in Japan. The winner will be able to go to every England game.

Presented by the former England manager and football pundit Terry Venables, the first show introduces all the finalists and presents their pitches for the big prize.

The second show, on Sunday, will announce the winner. It will be backed by radio and print ads, with a TV spot by the US agency Black Rocket airing on MTV.

Mark Waugh, the managing partner at Optimedia, said: "Yahoo! is a sponsor at this and the 2006 World Cup so we wanted something to show that Yahoo! was strongly linked with the event."

Waugh expects to reach 1.25 million in the 16- to 34-year-old male market.

"AFP in the past has come across as contrived, but this is honest editorial and it comes over well - this is why it's going out in primetime,

Waugh added.

"We are recommending this kind of communication more and more. If a client went to an ad agency, this wouldn't have been an option."