Sport is big business across the world. From television rights to merchandise, ticket prices and memorabilia. There’s perhaps no greater example of this than the English Premier League. The Premier League is broadcast in 212 territories across the world by 80 different broadcasters, with a TV audience of 4.7 billion. The annual revenue from television rights to Premier League footage alone is £1.2bn. This money filters down to clubs in the league allowing them to collectively spend £1.1bn on player transfers in the last two years. As part of all this, fans have an almost endless appetite for news and score updates, rumours, interaction and engagement with their favourite club or players, which is all for the most part driven through the second screen. At the end of 2012, 37% of global mobile media users followed the English Premier league in one way or another. If anything else, this represents a huge opportunity on mobile for advertisers across the world.
In a report released in May this year, Mary Meeker, a renowned senior analyst at Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers, highlighted a glaring discrepancy between attention/time spent by users on mobile versus the advertising spend marketers are dedicating to the channel. It suggested that there’s currently a $20bn market gap between the value of the mobile user and the current size of the mobile advertising market.
When it comes to leading the charge in growth across advertising at the moment, mobile is front and centre. Zenith Optimedia recently projected that mobile advertising on smartphones and tablets would account for 37% of global advertising expenditure growth this year, worth $14.3bn and making up 2.8% of total advertising spend. The gap could well now be closing, albeit slowly, but as technology enables richer, more targeted user experiences, different verticals will emerge at the forefront of growth to be the first to help advertisers truly realise mobile’s enormous potential. Sport is one of those verticals that immediately stands out.
During the 2012 Olympic Games in London, mobile advertising grew 50%, with some agencies reporting 150% growth in mobile ad media spend, showing just how sport can help move the needle in terms of mobile advertising. Fans wanted content direct to their mobile device and this opens up to advertising and marketing opportunities for brands wanting to reach those relevant and engaged fans. Sport appears to be a perfect vehicle to help mobile advertising to finally reach its potential.
Sport = engagement
Marketers working with sports properties are working with a market filled with fans: highly passionate, energised and engaged people rallying around a particular team, individual or group.
Highly passionate fans invest their emotions, their time and their money into supporting a team. This passion manifests itself in a disproportionate interest in everything connected to that team, including advertising. Advertisers in the sport space are feeding a nearly insatiable appetite. Savvy sports marketers and organisations can harness this by strategically integrating offers for merchandise, memberships, fan experiences and competitions into the fan experience of following a team via mobile.
Easily definable segments
Leagues and competitions very neatly split markets. In a group loosely defined as ‘people with an active interest in English football’, there is a very clear set of large segments within that, split neatly across team loyalty.
This ease of basic segmentation pairs nicely with new mobile ad targeting techniques such as contextual and geographic targeting. Mobile makes it possible for an advertiser to reach fans from a particular team, at a particular time, based on data such as scores – on the device that’s in their pocket. Imagine a fan reading early reports on his team’s 3-0 win on the way home, being served an ad targeting fans of his team, offering ticket deals to a match their team just qualified for and a relevant and timely call to action. Segmentation and targeting make that possible. Mobile makes it personal.
Consumers using a second screen while they watch sport is commonplace and with the onslaught of 4G networks, more fans will be able to watch sport on their mobile, representing another fantastic opportunity. The statistics, player data and social banter inherent in most sports make sport a perfect use case for second screening. Advertisers are becoming more aware that the average person watching sport is probably now doing it with a phone or a tablet in their hand. In 2012, some agencies saw mobile ad spend climb 150% to coincide with the Olympics. The high prevalence of second screening among sports fans is the reason why.
The continued growth in smartphone penetration, faster network speeds and humanity’s love of engaging with sport have created a perfect melting pot for sport to showcase mobile’s true potential for marketers. Innovative new targeting and rich media on mobile stand poised to offer ever-increasing, targeted value to sports fans, and better returns on investment for marketers.
The second screeners, football fanatics and mobile sports addicts may not realise it, but the improved relevance and user experience that the new generation of mobile advertising will bring will make for an even richer fan experience.