What Savvy TV Advertisers Know About Sports
31 January 2019 • tvsquared
Meg Coyle,
MarCom Director

Sporting events, especially the Super Bowl, present some of the best times to get in front of a massive audience. As those viewers, we expect to be “wowed” with ads we can talk about at work the next day. C’mon, how long was “whassup?” part of your vocabulary? (On behalf of myself and certain family members, I can safely say it was for far too long!)

Along with reach, what really matters is the impact of a spot. Did it drive sales, search, site traffic, app activity? When Super Bowl LIII ads run $5M+ a pop, brands are under tremendous pressure to prove they drove revenue.

So, how do they do that? For starters, they think of TV as a performance-marketing channel.

Most TV viewers have second-screen devices nearby, which they use to digitally engage with brands. Thanks to analytics platforms, advertisers no longer just blast out spots and hope they’ll drive engagement. Rather, they incorporate a level of precision to target the right people, in the places and times they are most likely to respond.

For sports, advertisers leverage real-time data analysis to understand the impact of TV spots on KPIs. They then identify not only the games, but the times within those games, that will perform best.

Brands that make the biggest impact during sporting events don’t make assumptions, they let data be the guide and follow similar best practices:

  • They plan based on response vs. ratings: Just because sporting events attract a lot of viewers, it doesn’t mean that untargeted, mass audience will engage with a brand. Ratings data tells nothing about campaign performance. Rather, advertisers analyze spot and response data to plan TV based on efficiency and performance – the actions generated from an ad. Analytics identify the creatives, games and game times that result in the most response. For example, the Super Bowl might bring you 100M+ viewers, but data could show that Game 2 of the NBA Finals drew 3xs the amount of response.
  • They make in-flight changes: Some advertisers leverage more flexible buys to make day, daypart, network and creative changes to improve the effectiveness of on-air spots – especially for multi-day/week sporting events. During the Olympics, analysis could show an advertiser that swimming events aired between 2:00 p.m.-4:00 p.m. on CNBC drive the greatest response. It can then make day-of changes to improve performance.
  • They inform media-mix strategies: Live-event advertisers understand that TV influences digital channels. Some conduct “what-if” scenarios to test mix changes leading up to an event to ensure effectiveness. Others “sync” their TV spots with paid search to ensure they optimally capture TV-driven traffic in the digital funnel.

If you’d like to learn more about this topic, check out our webinar: “Best Practices for Live Event TV Advertising.”