We can suggest that in-person attendance at major sporting events has regained its stride after a shaky post-pandemic return that lingered longer than one had anticipated. Our fan sentiment tracking research turned a corner this summer, when the percentage of those who felt that attending a live sporting event has been just as enjoyable or more enjoyable than they remembered pre-COVID exceeded 70%, after struggling to compel 2/3 of attendees through the spring.
With digital ticketing now pervasive, teams embracing dynamic pricing, an influx of creative enhancements to in-venue social spaces, in-game entertainment and food and beverage offerings, we have perhaps reached a new apex in delivering fan experiences that transcend the games themselves. Sports marketers have also seamlessly used technology improvements to create more resonant multimedia activations, to the benefit of partners and advertisers.
I’ve used this space in the past to advocate for the power of in-game sponsor activations. And data shows live sports remain one of the only truly uninterrupted mediums to deliver a brand community, amplified in importance to advertisers by not only attractiveness to a variety of demographics, but a unique delivery of heightened attention.
Recent increased opportunities to measure the specific impact of in-game activation have demonstrated the ability of sight, sound and motion to deliver impactful messaging opportunities that elevate brand recall and awareness for in-venue sponsors. Interestingly the data shows not only consistent to improved delivery of brands’ return on marketing objectives, the phenomenon is evidenced across categories, venue types and multiple key measures.
On the surface, one might find the above insights to seem counterintuitive. With venues and teams investing in enhanced video boards, LED rings, concourse activations and digital promotions, today’s live sports environment may appear to be excessively cluttered, and more difficult for a brand to break through than in years past. But the data suggests otherwise. I attribute this not only to the technology improvements but to greater focus on creative development by brands and their agencies.
There’s another underlying phenomenon beyond this: Greater fan engagement and receptivity comes as the uninterrupted live sports environment is providing a more coveted opportunity for escape from the stresses of daily life. Further, an elevated focus on participatory fandom through promotion of fantasy sports and in-game wagering has fueled an even greater attentiveness and communal sense of shared experience that is benefiting brands.