Sporting events present some of the best times to get in front of a massive audience. As those viewers, we expect to be “wowed” with new and exciting creatives that we can talk about at work the next week.
But for an advertiser, at the end of the day, the only thing that really matters is the impact the spot had on business. Did it drive sales, search, site visits, registrations, foot traffic? When Super Bowl ads run between $4-5M a pop, and even the Olympics, while considerably less expensive, command $100K+, advertisers are under pressure to prove that spots drive revenue.
With the rise of digital and the age of active-participation viewers – those second-screening when watching TV – advertisers are thinking differently about TV as a performance-marketing channel. Thanks to new analytics platforms, savvy advertisers are no longer just blasting out spots and hoping they’ll drive engagement. Rather, they are taking advantage of TV’s wide reach, but incorporating a level of precision to target the right people, in the places and times they are most likely to respond.
So how does this relate to advertising during sporting events? Well, with timely data analysis, advertisers measure the impact of TV spots on KPIs – whether that is site visits, registrations, charity donations, sign-ups, etc. – and identify not only the games, but even the times within those games, that drive the greatest response.
One of my favorite examples of this is from the 2016 Euros. We looked at UK search traffic for Betway and Bet365 during the England vs. Slovakia match. Spots ran at the times they would drive the most response: before the event started and at halftime. Not coincidentally, those are the times that people are most likely to place bets. Both companies saw measurable uplift in online traffic corresponding with their TV ads, which ran shortly before the start and at halftime, respectively.
This type of analysis can be generated right after a spot airs. Advertisers can see the immediate impact of spots, and not just online, but on SMS, mobile, call centers, retail sales, app activity and more. They can understand the networks, days, times and programs generating response and improve the efficiency of underperforming spots in-flight.
Advertisers that make the biggest impact during sporting events – and across TV – typically leverage data analytics technology and follow similar best practices:
- They plan based on response, not ratings. Major sporting events attract a lot of viewers, but that doesn’t mean that this untargeted, mass audience will engage with a brand. Ratings data tells advertisers nothing about campaign performance. Rather, advertisers analyze spot and response data to plan TV based on efficiency and performance – the real-world actions generated from an ad.
Analytics identify the creatives, games (and the times within those games) that result in the most response via web, call centers, search, app activity, SMS, retail sales, etc. For example, the Super Bowl might have brought you 110+ million viewers, but data could show that Game 2 of the NBA Finals drew 3x the amount of response to a certain spot.
2. They make changes in-flight. A growing number of advertisers are leveraging more flexible buy opportunities to make day, daypart, network and creative changes to improve the efficiency of on-air spots – especially during multi-day/week sporting events. During the Olympics, same-day spot and response analysis could show an advertiser that speed skating events aired between 2:00 p.m.-4:00 p.m. on CNBC drive the greatest response. They can then make day-of changes to improve spot effectiveness.
3. They inform media-mix strategies. Advertisers leverage data analysis to understand how TV influences other online and offline channels, like digital, radio and print. Some even conduct “what if” scenarios to test mix changes leading up to an event to ensure effectiveness. This is especially important in the age of the connected consumer – when close to 90% of viewers second-screen when watching TV and, if interested, immediately engage with a brand.