#PPC and Display

A hard fought battle on and off the football pitch

The FIFA World Cup is one of the most impressive displays of competition in the world of sport. Football fans faithfully follow their team’s victories, heartbreaks and all the drama that ensues over the month long tournament. All the while, there is another fierce competition brewing as brands are vying to not only capture the intended audience, but also become a part of the World Cup conversation with passionate football fans. Predictions stipulate that $2.4 billion dollars will be injected into the global ad market, which represents 10% of the total industry growth in ad dollars. All this to say, the World Cup is a battle that is fought on and off the football pitch.

The World Cup of digital

From the Olympic Games to the Super Bowl, these globally broadcasted sporting events represent a golden opportunity for brands to reach their target audience during key moments when emotions are running high. As such, the World Cup represents an invaluable opportunity for brands across the globe looking to get on the FIFA bandwagon.

What impact did the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil have on the digital landscape?
  • The official FIFA app became the biggest sports event app of all time with 28 million downloads.  
  • 451 million Facebook users were reached with official FIFA social content.
  • Twitter followers surpassed 16 million, with an average of 10 new followers per second recorded on the opening day of match.
  • The FIFA World Cup Instagram page increased it’s following from 42,000 to 800,000 in just 31 days - this represents a 1,600% growth rate!
  • More than 40 billion impressions of official FIFA World Cup digital content.

Although these figures are quite impressive, it is predicted that Social Media may surpass TV ad spend given that the platforms have matured greatly since the last World Cup. Given these figures, it’s safe to say that the World Cup delivers volume across the globe. The question lies in how brands can make the most of this moment by capturing the true spirit of the World Cup in their messaging.

Pick your battles

With a better understanding of the impact the 2014 World Cup had on the digital space, let’s dive into how brands can successfully leverage this month-long global event. This could be summarized in three words: Pick your battles. The World Cup is highly competitive for advertisers and trying to cover it all or being too general will directly affect the relevance of your messaging. To avoid falling victim to this, we recommend approaching this event from two distinct dimensions:
Be selective with the matches you want to cover. As mentioned, the World Cup spans over a month-long period with a total of 64 matches. Trying to cover them all is almost impossible and definitely ineffective. Instead, choose a team or match relevant to your audience. Focus on tailoring your message to that particular match or team so your brand becomes part of the audience instead of being on the outside looking in.

Timing is everything. Given the fierce media competition off the pitch, your brand must be smart in planning the launch time of match-specific campaigns. The latest World Cup news is shared within seconds across the globe and brand messaging can become irrelevant in a blink of an eye. This is why it is also crucial to be selective in the scheduling of your ads. It is better to avoid targeting your audience about a past match when the celebrations are over and fans are preparing for their next feat.

To summarize, choose what you want to cover and when to ensure you are competing for the audience’s attention when it is most relevant. I know you’re probably asking yourself, this is all great, but how am I supposed to predict the outcome of each match and plan campaigns accordingly? No fear, let’s have a look at how this can become a reality for your brand.

How can brands seize the moment?

Now that we have established a theoretical framework to digital advertising during the World Cup, let’s have look at how we can achieve this by leveraging technology.  
Facebook Ads Manager allow brands to schedule ads during certain times of the day or choosing a particular audience. However, it is unable to optimize campaigns according to the outcome or key highlights of a given match. For this reason, implementing an API that can take advantage of real-time news will greatly impact the relevance of campaigns. Let’s dive into how we seized the moment for one of our clients by leveraging 4C, a  data science and Martech company.
iProspect knew the key to success for this particular client initiative was to capture an audience given a specific outcome of a sporting event. In collaboration with our client and one of the largest professional sporting associations in North America, iProspect looked to 4C as a key partner in this campaign execution. The campaign was based on a selected team and player and was triggered to activate based on a specific metric, for example, the selected player scores a goal. To ensure brand messaging remained relevant given the time sensitive nature, we also specified the duration in which the campaign ran following the triggered metric. 
This type of campaign structure allowed our client to be visible to their target audience with a relevant message and become part of the celebration. The 4C platform allows advertisers to focus on campaign performance rather than being dependent on the outcome of a game.
Brands advertising on TV can also seize the moment by leveraging TVTY, a moment marketing company. TVTY allows brands to trigger search campaigns following a TV commercial, whether it be their own TV ad or that of a competitor. Campaigns can be optimized according to the time of day, device type, channel, geographic location, sync times, ad copy, etc., This technology is particularly interesting during the World Cup given the sheer volume of TV viewers in addition to  the fact that 88.3% of people use a second screen while watching TV.

Now, how does this example translate to the World Cup?

Let’s say you work for a Spanish car company - why not set up a contest that only goes live when Gerard Pique scores a goal. This would allow your brand to insert itself into the celebration amongst your target audience and become associated with the player and victory. Alternatively, if this level of granularity is too precise, a brand could simply choose to activate campaigns when a particular team wins.
The World Cup is a great opportunity for brands to have their voices heard. However, the competition is fierce and only highly relevant and timely campaigns will have the intended effect. The World Cup won’t wait, will you?