Evgeny Popov is EVP and GM (International) of Verve Group.
Global events like the recent Rugby World Cup bring entire communities together as people cheer on their favorite teams. Spikes in internet traffic prove sporting championships are a catalyst for digital interactions, as each match leads to social events that keep the passion for the topic burning bright offline, leading to online interactions. For the digital advertising industry, these events are golden opportunities to reach audiences at scale—whether it’s fans who avidly follow every championship update or casual viewers who enjoy the social aspect.
England’s last match at this year’s Rugby World Cup broke ITV1 records with an audience of 8.7 million people. On a global scale, the numbers are even higher, with 1.5 billion viewers tuning in to the final match of last year’s Football World Cup. Although no advertiser will want to miss out on these numbers, reaching high-intent consumers is what will ultimately drive conversions and create positive engagement for brands. It’s no longer enough to launch mass-reach brand awareness TV ad campaigns; advertisers need to prioritize finding the right audiences, in the right spaces, at the right time.
It’s All About Seizing The Moment
A recent study by TPA Digital found that 74% of the internet’s new articles see traffic peak on the day they are published, with a further 25% peaking the day after. The findings highlight how important the timing of advertising is to capture user attention.
As new content is posted during sporting events, advertisers need the ability to rapidly fine-tune their campaigns to fit with fresh and highly relevant content in the moments when consumers are most engaged. Over the past decade, developments in artificial intelligence (AI), machine larning (ML), natural language processing (NLP) and data analysis have enhanced contextual targeting technology to enable this. Today, contextual analysis can run in real time and enable advertisers to interpret the context of text, audio and video content, leaving no stone unturned and getting closer to consumers while respecting their data privacy.
Tailoring Campaigns To The Right Screen
Global events often generate some of the finest TV campaigns from brands. Recently, at this year’s World Cup, Lucozade Sport released an ad with a humorous tone in support of the English, Irish, Scottish and Welsh teams. Guinness Ireland decided to poke fun at the country’s tumultuous past with the tournament. Vodafone, meanwhile, opted for a family-focused ad, highlighting the importance of connections and reliability—both crucial during phone calls.
But away from high-budget national ad campaigns made for TV, lies an opportunity to launch more targeted digital campaigns, fit for smaller screens that connect to individual consumers rather than cinematically appealing to large crowds.
Mobile advertising is the perfect medium for marketers to establish stronger connections with consumers. Smartphones are with us almost all of the time, so ads can be served whenever users are engaging with content, not just when TV channels are broadcasting the matches. But contextual solutions add an extra layer of value and opportunity to mobile advertising.
Capitalizing On User Attention
All of these provide invaluable information to marketers that helps identify potential audiences based on the same interests. ML algorithms within contextual solutions can then predict when the right users are most likely to interact with content and identify the spaces that will maximize consumer engagement and conversions.
Ads can be served on social media as viewers scroll their feed, or next to videos debating the latest match results and discussing predictions for the next one. If a person is on the move, checking transportation to a sporting venue, an ad could pop up with an exclusive offer at a nearby shop or pub. Attention isn’t always guaranteed with consumers even on mobile, so it becomes even more important for marketers to find those fleeting moments when consumers are receptive, paying attention and most likely to interact with the brand.
Global sporting events are filled with opportunities for brands to connect with consumers, but it’s easy to get lost in the crowd. In these highly competitive digital environments, marketers are rightly pursuing new and more innovative contextual solutions that set them apart. The future of advertising belongs to those who can continuously pivot their strategies to match new emerging challenges and opportunities, built on privacy-compliant models that support both businesses and consumers.
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