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Making American Idol a Champion

Making American Idol a Champion Jeff King

This year, Fox Interactive Media's Americanidol.com became the number one TV show site on the web, with traffic exceeding that of "The Bachelor," "Grey's Anatomy," "Survivor" and "Lost" combined, according to ComScore Media Metrix. A popular online destination since its first season, this unprecedented achievement for AmericanIdol.com came just four months after the site was completely overhauled. We credit the site's transformation from a pure marketing effort into a robust consumer offering that engaged visitors and attracted advertisers. 

What a winner is made of
The new design enhanced usability and offered deeper content, including hundreds of original videos, thousands of behind-the-scenes photos, dynamic games, contests, blogs and personal photo galleries. Additionally, the upgrade also featured the formation of an entirely new American Idol community-- MyIdol. Leveraging the tools and technology behind the wildly successful MySpace.com, MyIdol's blogs and boards have become the place for avid fans of the show to discuss, debate and submerge themselves into everything American Idol.

With the addition of this range of new features, including MyIdol, the site boasted year-to-year growth of almost 100 percent in all key metrics. I was confident that MyIdol would take off, but these results more than exceeded my greatest expectations.

Powering the partnerships
Advertisers were also taking notice of AmericanIdol.com's improvements and growing appeal. One advertiser, Lucky Charms, sponsored the finale photo gallery and received brand integration and a custom skin of the American Idol episodic photo gallery section, along with other media. They held 100 percent share-of-voice of the episodic photo gallery section that over the course of one day during the peak of the Idol season delivered millions of impressions. Other media components in the campaign included homepage, poll questions and run-of-site banners.

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Seeing the stars
In addition to photos, the most popular sections of the AmericanIdol.com site were videos, style and our season finale offerings. The ability for fans to catch highlights of a show they may have missed -- or to relive the greatest moments of the episodes they saw -- proved to be a powerfully compelling site segment. The video section boasted over 400 clips that generated 75 million+ page views for the season. Clips from the video section ranged from audition footage to performances to behind-the-scenes glimpses of the contestants and judges. With 12,500 photos on the site garnering over 300 million page views, the photos section became one of the most heavily trafficked areas.

Another component, the style section, originated as a way for people to see how the contestants' looks came together. This grew to include several related sections, including Style Weekly, Hair Style, Fashion Idol, Get the Look and Beauty Secrets.

A live webcast during finale week was another way that Americanidol.com brought fans closer to the action. Two cameras were situated on the red carpet, providing online fans with live views of the event. The AmericanIdol.com audience was thrilled to see former contestants like Constantine Maroulis and Anthony Federov giving their opinions on season five. Traffic for the two finale days broke all previous single day traffic records, for all seasons.

Finally, AmericanIdol.com offered digital downloads of performances from the show in both audio and video for the last eight days of the 2006 season, giving audiences a glimpse of features that will come to the site for the 2007 season. Even during this short test period, more than 175,000 digital clips were sold, revealing a strong demand for the downloadable content. 

In the end, with a more than a 56 percent increase in monthly unique visitors and a 156 percent increase in page views from the previous season (according to ComScore), the revamped AmericanIdol.com was considered a massive success. But the Fox Interactive team won't be content to rest on its laurels. We have a few more tricks up our sleeves for this summer and next season. Our goal is to keep up with our audience and give more tools to enhance their Idol experience.
Jeff King is vice president and general manager for AmericanIdol.com/Fox Interactive Media. .


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