Sarah Whitfield
Sarah Whitfield 13 June 2024

Get Your Ad Strategy in Shape For a Summer of Sport

From the UEFA European Football Championship to the Paris Olympics, UK media companies and advertisers are limbering up for a super summer of sport. Below, we share three tips to get both on the podium this season. But first, let’s look at what they’re playing for.

The men's Euros kicks off in June; arguably the most high-profile international football tournament outside of the World Cup.

A month later, France will host an array of Olympic events, from swimming, to athletics to the newly-added breakdancing, while perennial tournaments such as Wimbledon add to a bumper season for advertising opportunities.

To understand the reach of the two headliners, let’s jump back three years.

Attracting a peak of 31 million viewers, the Euro 2020 final – held in 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic – was the third most-watched event in UK television history, behind Princess Diana’s funeral and England’s 1966 World Cup win.

In the same year, the Tokyo Olympics attracted a global broadcast audience of more than three billion people.

Television is just the start. Global sporting events also influence online and audio channels. Take the 2022 World Cup final: there were 24,400 tweets per second following Kylian Mbappé's equaliser for France against Argentina, making it the fastest rate of posting ever recorded on X (formerly known as Twitter).

Sport 2024: Three Training Tips for Brands

1. Consider Co-Viewers

Wide-screen, check. Snacks, check. Beer, check.

Hosting guests to watch the national team is a cultural ritual. Over the years, brands have mirrored this group experience in campaigns — think food delivery commercials featuring friends playfully arguing over the last slice of pizza.

Research has even shown that co-viewing audiences are more likely to stay focused on the screen.

However, to serve relevant ads, and then understand the success of their campaigns, brands need to know who is watching any given device. Media companies, meanwhile, want to make the most of this valuable inventory, which they can only do by having an understanding of their audience.

Is it possible to know who is in front of the screen at any given moment? On-device technology can support co-viewing measurement by generating insights on user behaviour and content preferences.

All processing is carried out on the device - from set-top boxes, smart TVs, consoles and tablets - ensuring that all buyers see are anonymised profiles and attributes that can’t be linked to a single person — or people. These insights help to build a much more accurate picture of who is watching at any given time.

Being able to understand the additional impressions and reach delivered by co-viewing means broadcasters of sports content can show the true value of their inventory, while advertisers can allocate their budgets more efficiently.

This clearer picture of who is watching will also enable media sellers and buyers to work together and serve relevant creative to CTV and streaming audiences.

3. Buying Beyond Television

Television aside, sporting events boost activity across all devices, as fans follow their favourite personalities on social media, read online punditry, and hit up food delivery or supermarket apps to stock up for the final. Each of these interactions presents a potential brand touchpoint.

Advertisers have traditionally used cross-device tracking to deliver consistent messaging across a consumer’s digital day – perfect for tracking the fan who skips from their favourite player’s Instagram feed to match highlights on YouTube.

However, this is becoming less and less feasible due to tightening data privacy regulations and the deprecation of third-party cookies.

With identifiers fading into obsolescence, marketers must turn to other signals to deliver relevant, timely content to their target audiences. On-device solutions enable the processing of ad requests without exposing personal data to the cloud.

For example, if a user interacts with three athletics-related items within a specific timeframe, they can be added to a cohort with similar interests. At a creative level, advertisers can target each group to boost engagement.

3. Keep Your Ear on the Ball

Though the reach of television and online advertising during a sporting event is compelling, advertisers should not overlook audio, including radio and podcasts.

The sheer numbers show why: World Cup 2022 programming was played 10.4 million times on BBC Radio 5 Live, BBC Sounds, and BBC Sport Online, while talkSPORT delivered over 600 hours of coverage.

Football podcasts are also having their moment, with Gary Lineker launching The Rest is Football ahead of the 2023 Premier League season, while That Peter Crouch Podcast, now in its fifth year, continues to be one of the most popular in the UK.

Meanwhile, smart speakers – a feature of 60% of UK homes, and the perfect vehicle for radio and podcast content – remain a virtually untapped mine of audience data.

On-device technology can help media companies maximise their audiences through these audio devices, while also giving brands access to listeners, without compromising user privacy. For example, knowing whether a user is a premium subscriber can influence the timing and content of ads.

As we write, athletes across the world are refining their strategies to win gold this summer, leaving no stone unturned to beat the competition. With the chance to reach millions of sports fans, media companies and advertisers must do the same to ensure they come out on top of the competition.

Skytech Group
Skytech Group

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Skytech Group
Skytech Group

Skytech Group
Skytech Group

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