The silence before a balloon flies into the skylight. Waiting to see if “World Record” flashes on the stadium screen. Time out with the score tied and only a few seconds remaining.
In these moments, fans unite regardless of race, age, gender or nationality. It’s no wonder sports are the most effective way to reach and engage large-scale audiences. Sport unites people and creates a passionate relationship like nothing else can.
Harnessing this powerful global energy offers brands a valuable opportunity to discover, engage and convert people around the world in meaningful ways. They can cut through the noise and connect on a deeper level, creating brand affinity and ultimately leading to more sales. Isn’t that the name of the game?
However, capturing the attention of today’s sports fans is much more complicated than it used to be, largely due to the digital shift. A logo placement in a stadium or an advertisement on a live sports broadcast is no longer a guarantee of reaching the right audience.
Today, audiences are much more fragmented due to the many ways people can watch and engage with sports, sometimes across multiple devices and channels at the same time. There were millions of tweets during this year’s Super Bowl LVI, a great example of how fans are re-screening on mobile and commenting on the action on social media, while watching the game on TV (or on any other connected device of their choice).
Do the hard work
Social media is now one of the essential ways for fans to keep up to date with sports news. Fans expect real-time content tailored to their favorite preferences, teams and players. This presents brands with a huge opportunity to deliver exciting, instant content before, during and after the game and the season, creating a year-round engagement strategy that will build trust with an audience.
Facebook Reels and In-Stream Ads are good examples of immersive video formats that allow brands to easily convey the emotion and passion of sports. Fans don’t want ads; they want useful and authentic content that adds value. This is the type of content that provides ROI to the business.
Heineken is a model brand that brought video content to life on social media using real-time data-driven content throughout the Euro 2020 tournament and achieved a ROAS of 1.8X to boot. Using Spirable technology, Heineken has automated the creation and distribution of hundreds of dynamic video ads on Facebook and Instagram. Advertisements were first adapted based on location to bring people to their local bars and pubs to watch the matches and build hype ahead of the event. Then, during matches, ads reflected in-game actions, such as goals scored, to create highly relevant content that helped elevate moments of maximum excitement.
Build creative performance
One of the most captivating and exciting elements of sports is their unpredictability. If we knew what would happen, we wouldn’t be watching. To activate around this, brands need to use data in smart (and privacy-friendly) ways, automatically updating ads as the sporting action unfolds.
What’s the secret ? Contextual and live data triggers. These privacy-friendly data sources ensure that your ads reflect the most relevant and compelling action. Coupled with creative automation, brands can be as responsive and agile as the sport demands, without having to create and update ads manually.
Zero-party data is also becoming the MVP of marketing strategies, especially with the imminent demise of the cookie. It has never been more important for brands to have a more direct and trusted relationship with the consumer, and sports offers a direct way for brands to do this through gamification.