Industry trends that can be leveraged during sports season

Siddharth Dabhade, MD and Commercial Board Member, MiQ discusses the importance of Connected TV for sports advertising, fragmented viewer attention, and the use of AI and data-driven strategies to improve ad effectiveness.

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Siddharth Dabhade Guest Column

2024 is a lead year for sports, and it presents a unique opportunity for brands to make an impact on sports fans in India with upcoming events like the T20 World Cup, English Premier League, Olympics, Wimbledon, and Euro. With the ongoing Indian Premier League (IPL) breaking viewership records for streaming on Connected TV and mobile devices, it has become imperative for brands to include CTV in their media mix and create innovative digital advertising strategies to boost reach and recall among their target audiences. India is estimated to have more than 30 million CTV households, projected to grow 4X in the next 3 years. CTV enables marketers to reach cord-cutters, cord-nevers and cord-shavers that are hard to reach on linear TV. From the onset of 2024, marketers were keenly looking forward to the top impact properties among elections and major sports events, leading up to the festive season. Here are a few industry trends that marketers need to be mindful of to maximize their impact during the sports season:

1 - Streaming is becoming the default viewing choice for sports fans

With a wide array of content options available across multiple OTT platforms, consumers have the power to choose their content & viewing experience at will. Streaming, particularly on Connected TVs, has emerged as the preferred choice for many households, outpacing linear TV viewership by a significant margin. In our latest Advanced TV report, we found that streaming now exceeds linear TV viewership by a whopping 22% globally. Recognizing this trend, advertisers are increasingly exploring advertising opportunities in the Connected TV ecosystem to reach and engage an affluent audience on the big screen. Beyond merely extending reach, advertising on CTV offers a more audience-centric and data-driven approach to TV, making campaign planning, activation and measurement more advanced.

2 - Sports fans aren’t concentrated on one app, platform or channel

Sports enthusiasts aren’t just watching their favourite sports live but also shifting across platforms and devices. For live sports events happening in different time zones, fans may catch the action on sports apps like CricInfo, Cricbuzz or watch the highlights on YouTube. Hence, concentrating your media spend on just one platform may not be enough to achieve your campaign objectives. Our research reveals that viewers subscribe to up to three streaming services on average, with around 10% of viewers being subscription hoppers, with many viewers re-evaluating their subscriptions to look at free ad-supported (FAST) platforms. Hence, directly buying ads on 'premium' networks may not achieve the results a brand needs, as the viewers on the platform may not be the targeted audience for a brand. Find out more on how to find your most valuable audience on CTV. 

3 - Viewer attention is fragmented across platforms and devices

Our latest research reveals that 56% of Indian TV viewers often, or almost always, use a second screen while watching TV, making a clear case for a data-driven focused TV advertising strategy. One of the benefits of CTV is that it can provide more precise targeting for ads. Advertisers can use demographic, location, and interest data to create ads that are more relevant to CTV viewers. 

4 - Retargeting viewers on CTV & mobile

Advertisers can now target audiences based on the content they’re watching using automatic content recognition (ACR) data and tailor their ad creatives for different audience segments. Advertisers can retarget TV viewers on their mobile, this approach can be effective, especially when combined with search & viewing history on mobile devices and competitor keywords. By seamlessly retargeting consumers who have already shown interest in your brand across any device and delivering tailored ads on CTV, you have the chance to make a lasting impression. 

5 - Innovative with new creative ad formats & activation

Brands can experiment with AI to stand out creatively in their ad campaigns. AI can be used to tailor ad creatives to different audience segments to deliver more personalised and contextually relevant ads. A recent example of AI’s use in sports advertising campaign is Zomato’s latest IPL campaign which personalizes ads during IPL for Zomato’s local restaurant partners. 

Another dimension of innovation is how an ad is activated using tech, MiQ offers a moments-sync solution that activates your campaigns in sync with in-game moments such as when a batting pair reaches 50 partnership, or a batsman scores a century or hits a six, to enhance recall. Brands can activate ads across programmatic platforms with dynamic creative optimization (DCO).

Sports events and advanced TV can be a winning combination for brands seeking to make an impact in the digital age. By leveraging the influence of sports to amplify their message and incorporating the latest advertising technologies, brands can enhance their visibility, broaden their audience, and establish authentic connections with viewers in ways that resonate long after the game is over.

In the competitive world of brand building, those who embrace the intersection of sports, technology, and creativity are best positioned to emerge as the true champions of the advertising arena.

This article is penned by Siddharth Dabhade, Managing Director and Commercial Board Member, MiQ.

Disclaimer: The article features the opinion of the author and does not necessarily reflect the stance of the publication.

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