The BIG Game and Online Advertising – Strike While the Iron is Hot

| Ad Networks + Ad Servers + Ad Spending + Agencies + Business + General

Game seven of this year’s MLB World Series between the St. Louis Cardinals and Texas Rangers averaged 25.4M viewers, making it the most watched World Series game since ’04.

So, does this increased TV viewership translate to online advertising opportunity? We were intrigued to find out and discovered that the short answer is yes, it definitely does. And in a way that advertisers should take note and advantage of for major sporting events in the future…

Here are just a few things we learned by tracking request and performance metrics across Undertone’s sports channel in the weeks leading up to, and during, the MLB playoffs:

The positive correlation between engagement in major sporting events and campaign performance is not limited to endemic advertisers.

Over the course of the weeks leading up to and during this year’s MLB playoffs, we measured performance on the Undertone sports channel for advertisers across a mix of verticals including CPG, automotive, pharma and retail, as well as sports. What we found was an across-the-board increase in performance which tells us that it’s not just sports marketers that can benefit from the swell of traffic on sports websites as consumers seek info on the battle for the playoff spots.

Performance is at its highest in the week prior to the main event (i.e. playoffs in this case).

Surprisingly, performance did not continue its consistent climb once the playoffs began. While requests remained above baseline levels by 34%, CTR experienced a decline. Lesson learned: take advantage of the weeks leading up to a major sporting event, when consumer engagement is at its peak, rather than assuming you’ll have a captive audience while the event is occurring (i.e. during the playoffs, those researching the week prior are now glued to the TV watching… the playoffs).

Performance in DMAs represented by participating teams is not only higher than those eliminated but also shows a slightly different trend.

When performance measurement was narrowed to the eight DMAs where playoff games were held, our analysis revealed that requests continue to spike through the playoffs, indexing 67% above the baseline (CTRs also remain 19% above the baseline). After teams were eliminated, requests from their DMAs remained high, perhaps due to interest in reading post-World Series coverage. However, CTRs declined below baseline levels. In short — geo-targeted campaigns to DMAs with teams still in the running for the title stand a good chance of providing great results.

So while some of these findings may seem intuitive, the biggest misconception is probably that online advertising during the playoffs, final game of the World Series, or whatever the main event may be is most effective. Sure, you’ll still experience decent, even good, results. But to see performance hit new heights, advertisers should be looking for new ways to reach consumers where they are (and when they’ll be there) across sports channels leading up to the BIG game.

Shawn is responsible for conceptualizing and implementing first party research to support Undertone’s display, high impact and video advertising products in response to market needs. Additionally, he oversees advertising effectiveness research for top clients as well as pre-planning consumer insights. Shawn holds a Master of Science in Biomedical Sciences from Albany Medical College and a Bachelor of Science in Biology from The State University of New York at Albany.


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