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Digital Transformation Industry Insights Digital Marketing

How marketers can capitalize on the world’s largest fan base and the festive period

By Ravleen Beeston, Regional Vice President,

Microsoft Advertising


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November 9, 2022 | 9 min read

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Brands can reach both 2022 football tournament watchers and festive holiday shoppers; they don’t have to choose - says Bertram Welink, UK marketing lead, Microsoft Advertising.

Move over mobile: the PC is the most valuable player

Reach 5B Soccer Fans and Holiday Shoppers at the Same Time

Five billion people globally are expected to tune in to football’s ultimate competition. This is a 42% rise on 2018 viewing figures, and yet most of the upcoming matches are set to kick off during the UK workday, and many clash with prime holiday shopping moments. Brands are asking themselves will the timing bring tidings of joy or prove to be the nightmare before Christmas?

With retailers gearing up to capitalize on peak shopping week, with Black Friday and Cyber Monday rapidly approaching, there is likely to be some disruption as high profile matches hit our screens during peak consumer browsing time – a moment when there’s not usually any other distraction. In fact, England vs USA is scheduled for 7pm UK time on Black Friday itself.

With the concurrence of a major sporting moment and festive shopping, set against a backdrop of rising inflation impacting consumer behavior, it might seem like there’s a looming threat, but there is a real opportunity to still leverage the tournament’s advertising potential. We know this can all feel pretty chaotic to navigate right now. Understanding where and how to focus your efforts can be the difference between achieving great success or missing the mark with an own goal.

Shop, watch or do both: reach the digital multitasker

With many of the matches (three quarters of the games in the UK) going live during working hours, viewers will be balancing, work, watching the game, and getting their festive shopping done simultaneously. This is the Workday Consumer in action – an individual who unapologetically switches between work, personal and consumer modes throughout the day. So, there’s a real opportunity for brands and marketeers to get in front of the consumer. According to the Global Web Index (Q1 2022) 21.6 million people in the UK are interested in the football tournament and 63% of them can be reached through Microsoft Advertising Network.

We know from our Workday Consumer insights, that 60% of consumers regularly do personal tasks such as research or make purchases during their work time and 33% spend one-to-three hours on personal tasks during the workday – so it’s critical that brands understand the mindset of this new consumer to capitalize.

Digital marketing has to operate at the intersection of work and life. Brands must understand the boundaries between personal and work life have blurred, so much so, that it has disrupted the well-planned customer decision journey as we know it.

There’s a real opportunity for advertisers to revise their bid strategies, especially if usually targeting certain days or times in the week to make sales. Now is not the moment to pause campaigns during peak times – but actually supercharge them. With football watchers on the Microsoft network 17% more brand loyal and 26% more likely to purchase brands they see advertised, retailers and brands on the Microsoft network are in prime position to make a sale.

Move over mobile: the PC is the most valuable player

And when the Workday Consumer is completing personal tasks during the workday, such as their holiday shopping, that’s largely happening on a PC. Their personal computer is a key touchpoint in consideration and purchase journeys, and despite the rapid growth of mobile, more than half (56%) of online retail sales will occur via the PC into 2024.

Likewise, with many matches airing during work hours, up to 75% of the games will be broadcast during working hours in the USA, Europe, Asia and North & South America. And with 69% of consumers using a PC for work, this is also going to be the device of choice to watch the match. 25% in the UK will view the game online. You can confidently expect people will be using their PC to view the game, keeping emails and other tasks on screen, whilst following the match on a connected monitor. Shoppers on the Microsoft network are 22% more likely to search for information related to what they are watching on a second screen - so the PC really does maintain its relevance.

With more than a billion people using Windows, Microsoft is the top digital destination for this sporting moment.

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Navigating a saturated media marketplace during the world’s largest football tournament

It’s likely this year’s Christmas could be less extravagant, putting even more pressure on brands to get their media spend right around the tournament to deliver ROI. With many brands priced out of the TV advertising market, there are other tools at a brands disposal as they divest into digital first strategies. Combining both search and native advertising works well to optimize budgets, drive consumer conversations and get high visual impact for brands campaigns. Recent research conducted across multiple retailers found that visitation rates increased over 3.5x and conversion rates by 5.4x for those utilising both search and native, compared to search alone – especially combined with the upcoming Black Friday period.

“This is a major sporting event that is on every marketer’s mind and thanks to digital marketing channels it is an opportunity for any brand, not just for the official sponsors. And the fact that this year’s biggest global football event will overlap and compete for attention with the festive shopping season makes understanding seasonal consumer trends and having a strategy that's optimized for the tournament a must", says Ryan Miles, director international marketing, Microsoft.

Alongside getting media spend right in terms of ROI is ensuring brands continue to operate with an authentic tone of voice and one that’s emotionally aware to the current moment we’re living in.

How to win the game

While the game presents a unique opportunity for many brands and advertisers, its conflict with the festive period highlights a requirement for smart thinking to allow straplines to be heard above the football chants. The right selection of channels and measurement will enable advertisers to connect with their intended audiences, hit their KPIs, and ensure it’s finally ‘coming home’.

Find out more about how to reach football fans and holiday shoppers simultaneous with Microsoft Advertising here.

Digital Transformation Industry Insights Digital Marketing

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Microsoft Advertising offers scalable technology solutions, spanning search, native, display, video, and retail media, to reach consumers across all aspects of their...

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