Rules of the game: how is football-focused marketing changing?

As part of The Drum’s Deep Dive into Sports Marketing, IAB UK talks to Becca Wastell (Commercial Director, LiveScore Group) about the rules of the game when it comes to advertising around football (soccer) content.

She provides insight into what advertisers should consider when it comes to the upcoming FIFA Men’s World Cup 2022, how the growing popularity of women’s football is opening up the game to new brands in the field and how sports marketing is called to evolve as digital. the channels are becoming more and more immersive.

With the Women’s Euro and the Men’s World Cup, 2022 is not just a big year for football fans, but also for advertisers keen to line up with the competitions. How can brands use digital channels to capitalize on this opportunity in a timely and relevant way?

Brands that understand and embrace the modern consumer habits of football fans will stand the best chance of landing effective and impactful advertising campaigns.

using video intelligence research, we know that 86% of football fans enjoy a second screen experience while watching football. Through our own research, two-thirds of fans use dedicated sports apps as the focal point of their ecosystem, while half also use them with more social media-focused channels, providing two key points for engagement.

Apps that deliver real-time updates, information and content (like our media brand, LiveScore) offer huge opportunities for brands, both creatively and from a display perspective. When deployed with superior execution, these partnerships allow advertisers to enter the fans’ match experience authentically.

It would, however, be a mistake to assume that the opportunity begins and ends with the live match itself. 54% of our LiveScore users actively interact with the pre-game environment, while just under half interact with post-game content. Both offer unique opportunities to align with advertisers’ goals – whether through anticipation and excitement upstream, or through dynamic and insightful post-game reaction.

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Football fans are a passionate group. How important is it that brands looking to advertise in this space are authentic and “in the know” about the game?

Authenticity is absolutely vital when operating in such a passionate fan space. We saw this via data from the Stackla Consumer Behavior report, which found that 90% of consumers say authenticity is key to determining brand sentiment. We’ve seen this point reinforced by our own research with YouGov, which identified being seen as a ‘trustworthy’ brand was the number one factor for football fans when choosing preferred sports publishers.

By partnering with a digital publisher that has a heritage in this field and provides top-notch insights, content, and statistics, brands can leverage that credibility and truly become part of the fan experience.

So while it’s valuable for the advertising brand to be “in the know”, what’s even more important is that it acts as a channel for the fans themselves to be in that state. This helps empower fans, increase their social currency, and expand their communities.

Is the growing popularity – and therefore growing business opportunity – of women’s football opening up the game to brands that might not have traditionally aligned themselves with football?

Undoubtedly, we are starting to see new brands entering the space both from a sponsorship and advertising perspective, capitalizing on the unique opportunity that women’s football presents at the moment. In fact, there are several diverse customer groups within women’s football that brands can communicate with. There are those looking to take a more overtly female-centric stance, while many see the opportunity to speak to a “family” demographic. All of this provides a more contextual and culturally appropriate opportunity for brands, alongside those operating in a more ‘traditional’ football environment.

Equally important is the increase in men’s engagement in women’s football, where competitions, such as the UEFA Women’s Euro 2022, play a vital role as a point of national pride and discussion. All of this offers advertisers from a wide range of verticals the opportunity to be part of this growing community.

How do we see advertising evolving in this space as digital channels become more and more immersive?

We anticipate that the most progressive publishers and advertisers will be in the best position to adopt and capitalize on an increasingly immersive digital experience.

Consumer habits have changed dramatically, with data from Nielsen Sports showing that Gen Z are much more likely to engage in secondary activities while watching sports, from social media and app usage to gaming. This means that publishers who can seamlessly integrate live coverage, games, social media, data and news into one environment will be able to drive this revolution, taking their audiences to new immersive experiences.

The dawn of true 5G adoption poses fascinating challenges for the advertising industry, with virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) experiences likely to become a key part of this evolving sector. .