Mad March Media

Every year about now, we are assailed by stories about how workforce productivity is undermined by our predilection for basketball as the nation turns its attention avidly to the frenzy popularly called March Madness.

I even saw one comment from a reader online claiming that this easy willingness to be distracted from the job at hand was why China was becoming the world’s economic powerhouse at the expense of the U.S. Possibly over-reaching a little, but you get the idea.

What is undeniable however, is that whether events like March Madness, the Olympics and to a lesser extent (in the U.S. anyway) World Cup Soccer disrupt basic levels of productivity, they certainly leave an indelible mark on media usage for their respective lifespan.

As the drama of these events ebbs and flows over days and weeks, so audiences become more or less engaged with the media that deliver the information they need to participate in workplace conversations. When so much of the social currency is tied to the most recent games or whether the team you have in the bracket is likely to win its next game, information is everything.

As a result, we see people utilizing whichever media they can throughout the day to feed their need -- be it alone or with friends, family or coworkers.

We’re already starting to see data emerge about March Madness. Our own early analysisof USA TouchPoints data suggests that this is a truly cross-platform event. Even though TV had the greatest reach among people following the event at 74%, the array of other media used is impressive; computer achieves 28% reach, radio 21% and even tablet devices manage 5%.

Of course, some are accessing their media of choice for video, others for stats and profiles, and others still for write-ups of whole games and this influences media choice.

Location is also interesting. For such social events as March Madness, consumption takes place with others (54%), as well as in bars and the workplace itself (41% for both combined).

Then there is the issue of the patterns that evolve throughout the course of a March Madness tournament. While inevitably tied to the fate of favorite teams and players, those who follow because they love the event evolve a pattern of interaction determined by the flow of the tournament schedule and their work and social lives.

This flow of interaction -– with all its idiosyncrasies of location, social setting, media choice etc. –- is something advertisers and rights holders need to clearly understand in order to take full advantage of any association with an event, be it on air, online or on-pack.  It will be the subject of a deeper analysis of media consumption related to March Madness at the end of the event.

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