'Winning' The World Cup: Game-Changing Tips For Video Advertisers

In 2010, ESPN Crossplatform Research found that 27.7 million people viewed FIFA World Cup content via ESPN properties, and 26% of those were multiplatform users. Consider that the total 2010 World Cup audience was roughly 3.2 billion, and it’s evident that the reach and popularity of the event is that of monstrous proportions. Consider that this year’s audience is set to surpass that of 2010’s, and the presence of technology that was previously unavailable, and the 2014 World Cup is looking to be a historic “game-changer,” teeing up a variety of challenges and opportunities for advertisers.

While the majority of games were available via live stream in 2010, ESPN has already confirmed that it will stream all 64 matches in 2014, with added analysis and 24/7 news coverage. In fact, back in December 2013, FIFA launched its first official mobile app in anticipation of the event, which is already expected to be the most downloaded sports app of all time.



So with 46% of U.S. viewers planning to watch the tournament on multiple devices, how can advertisers capitalize on this unique, massive event? Here are a few tips for savvy advertisers to keep in mind:

Targeting Latin America? Look Beyond YouTube

During the 2010 World Cup, the number of premium video publishers in Latin America was slim when compared to other regions. Advertisers that wanted to target LATAM turned to YouTube, the region’s dominant force in video, figuring that the video-sharing website was their best bet to reach a high percentage of video viewers.

The annual change in the rate of Internet penetration is extremely high in Latin America, with a 12% increase occurring between 2012 and 2013. This surge has acted as a cue for video publishers. As online video production quality shifted from low budget and quality and minimum content monetization, to bigger budget, higher quality and more compelling content, with strategic monetization plans, advertisers now have more options. While YouTube can still be very valuable in advertisers’ Latin American efforts, this World Cup is the perfect time to look into inventory from other top LATAM publishers such as Univision, Terra and Dailymotion.

Buying Brazil-Programmatic Guidelines

It’s no secret that Brazilians love soccer and that Latin America’s largest country is famous for having a disproportionately large amount of futbol fans. How can brands best target soccer fans in this country, with CPMs 38% lower than those in the U.S., and a population of roughly 198 million, or about 64% of the U.S.? Should brands use third-party data? In short, the answer is no. Third-party data is unfortunately severely lacking in the region. My experience in trying to use data for targeting from several leading data vendors led me to find that it’s about 100x harder to find a soccer enthusiast in Brazil than it is in the U.S., despite the overwhelming number of fans in the country. My recommendation is to use a website as a proxy for audience. Although that’s not to say sports sites are your only safe bet…

Sports Inventory Isn’t Your Only Hope

While advertisers will likely look to sports publishers first, it would behoove them to take a second look at publishers they may not immediately associate with an audience of sports’ enthusiasts. Many would be surprised at the lifestyle/entertainment/music websites that are offering really interesting inventory packages for this year’s World Cup and are available programmatically for the first time. For example, Myspace, the original social network, is now focused on professionally produced video content that’s available for purchase programmatically for the first time.

Depend On Downtime

Soccer matches, (especially those on the world’s largest stage), typically have a fair amount of downtime. Among other things, lengthy commercial breaks and injuries are when viewers will likely turn to their mobile devices for entertainment, providing a great opportunity for those advertisers looking to bolster their smartphone and/or tablet presence. Also, the World Cup has multiple matches going on at the same time, further promoting second- screen behavior in order for fans to keep up with scores, highlights, etc.

With the opening match less than one month away and brands like Nike already coming strong out of the gates, I expect we’ll see more and more initiatives from advertisers that aim to capture and engage potential customers across devices. Regions like LATAM and Europe, where soccer’s popularity is paramount, will see a rise in video viewing and subsequently, significant increases in ad spend as advertisers look to leverage the event. It will be interesting to watch the event unfold and see which advertisers win the cup.

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