Summer 2019 looks set to be filled with some of the hottest sporting events across the globe. We’ve already seen Liverpool triumph over Tottenham in the Champions League final, Andy Ruiz Jr shock the boxing world by defeating Anthony Joshua, and the United States pull the record book apart in a 13-0 win over Thailand in the FIFA Women’s World Cup. It’s already been a blistering start and there’s plenty more to be seen in what is expected to be a massive summer of sport.

These sporting events pull in global audiences, and traffic levels can skyrocket around these behemoth occasions - a potential goldmine for both advertisers and publishers to tap into. But how can they achieve this effectively? With many brands competing for the attention of fans around these events, the key for any digital advertiser is to focus on the details, whilst using the correct tools to make sure ads are scoring high for consumer engagement and ultimately, conversions.

Targeting user interests

Typically, a sporting fan’s connection with a particular sports extends beyond any individual match, and targeting people with content based on a specific sporting interest is a sure fire way to optimise ad performance around a contest. By serving ads relevant to both their interests as well as the sporting events they are watching, advertisers can increase the likelihood of conversion by as much as 5 to 7 times.

Advertisers will inevitably use more specific sports-related messaging when promoting their products around particular matches or events. However, to truly succeed advertisers also need to ensure that they are providing unique and relevant ad content to complement their experience around a specific sporting event. For example, promoting tennis-related content to a watching UK audience around this summer’s Wimbledon tournament will ensure brands are well-positioned in front of the right audience.

Utilising modern user interest targeting tools can help advertisers to achieve exactly that; helping them to automatically target an optimal group of users based on their specific traits and sporting interests to drive click-through rates and improve the success of their advertising efforts.

Tactical ad formats

Modern sporting events are watched by fans and viewers on a range of streaming websites, which are often accessed directly through a desktop. This growing trend in sports streaming has enabled advertisers to utilise a combination of various ad formats to ensure maximum reach at all stages of an event.

Native and banner ad formats have long been a staple for marketers looking to reach users with relevant content around sporting events. These have proven particularly effective for publishers too, by attracting the eyes of consumers with relevant content, without flooding them with overly-intrusive ads.

However, one particularly innovative format increasing its presence across the sporting events is push notifications. This ad type is particularly effective for reaching the target audience instantly and directly with key alerts or call to action messages at crucial times before or during a sporting event.

By striking the right balance between direct and subtle ad formats, advertisers can ensure they are delivering the right content to an ideal audience, and make way for a more successful campaign.

Winning home or away

Location also plays a crucial role in making sure digital ads are hitting the mark around sporting events. Leveraging modern Demand-Side Platforms to programmatically exchange ad inventory between advertisers and publishers provides a turnkey solution for helping both sides to gain maximum exposure around specific sporting events in real-time, regardless of the location or time zone.

An excellent example of this is the Toronto Raptors’ history-making appearance at the NBA Finals back in June. For the duration of the Play-Offs, user data indicated a huge increase in the impressions to registrations and registration to deposits rate amongst Canadian-related sports betting campaigns. With the whole nation buzzing with the success of the team, the event prompted a significant uptick in engagement with sports betting ads and subsequent growth in deposits - an ultimate win-win for both the user and advertisers.

Timing to perfection

The timing of digital ad campaigns is essential around sporting events. If you are an advertiser in the sports field, planning is a global job - you could have a big football match in Europe at one time, then 12 hours later a UFC fight in the US in a totally different time zone. When this occurs, staying on top of the sports events schedule and planning ahead of time is absolutely crucial for advertisers and will determine what to promote, where and when.

Staying on the UFC track - the build up to an event like this can take weeks, so your message should get to the end user as soon as the noise begins to ramp up (this of course depends on how big the event is going to be). For example, Khabib vs McGregor’s highly anticipated fight last year saw advertisers promoting betting offers or content for a number of weeks prior to the main event.

As the event nears, the call to action should become increasingly overt and the reach should be expanded as wide as possible. Of course, relevant traffic rates do increase during the event itself and many advertisers want to reach the same user at peak times. It is therefore important to free up the highest budgets and increased rates available at peak times, as well as loosen up the frequency of the ads slightly to get the maximum exposure. However, it is important to ensure the campaign is stopped after the event has finished.

Sporting events are not only beneficial for advertisers, with publishers also able to use them to receive much more relevant ads for their audiences - helping to drive traffic levels and revenue to their platform. Working closely with technology partners and their expansive networks, advertisers can utilise the programmatic channels to navigate the ‘hype’ around global sporting events and make sure they are striking success in terms of both ROI and strengthening attitudes towards their brand amongst consumers.


By Tarmo Tammel, Performance Advertising Expert for Adcash

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