The game itself was one for the ages — and it’s not a stretch to say that last night’s Villanova win at the buzzer was the best basketball game many people has ever seen. It’s also a testament to the power of live sports and how social amplifies the experience, especially for brands. Though the championship on the court pitted a one and two seed, data science company 4C, in their annual “Brand Madness” bracket, crowned a #14 seed, LG, as the winner over the scrappy #16 seed, Enterprise Rent-A-Car.
Unlike the on-court 64-team field, 16 brands were chosen to compete in this tournament. Brands who purchased the most TV ads (based on total advertising minutes) during the actual tournament’s first two rounds made the final field and were seeded based on total advertising time, with the most airtime getting the top seeds. When it began, AT&T ended up at #1 with Buick coming in as the #2 seed.
From there, winners were scored based on social performance across engagement (32.5%), social PPM index for March Madness (32.5%), engagement lift (25%), and sentiment (10%) from their TV advertising _ and this is when the top seeds began to fall. Only Buffalo Wild Wings (#6), Audi (#7) and GMC (#8) made it through the first round as the lower seed, based on the scoring system.
Lance Neuheuser, CEO of 4C, noted that the level playing field of social engagement played a big part in the big spenders tumbling from the tournament.
“With social media enabling brands to connect directly with their fan base, there’s more parity in advertising,” said Neuheuser. “To win over their audiences, brands can no longer simply throw a bunch of dollars behind TV spots and use outmoded consumer self-reporting for research. To make an impact in today’s fragmented media landscape, advertisers need to understand their audiences and be able to deliver customized and contextually relevant messages to them in real-time.”
In the semifinal matchup between LG and Audi, Audi ran 1.5 minutes of TV ads during the Final Four of the actual tournament compared to LG’s half minute, but couldn’t keep up with LG’s social engagements, social index and engagement lift. Additionally, Enterprise and Cadillac has a single minute of advertising each, but the former’s social presence nudged the brand ahead.
In the final matchup between Enterprise and LG, two official NCAA corporate partners, LG proved to be too much for Enterprise, ending the #16 seed’s run. LG reportedly took advantage of all the screens it could during March Madness, including Snapchat, which could have been a key to its domination during the tournament. Over the championship game, the consumer electronics brand generated 194,863 social engagements, achieved a 901 social index, 36.2x engagement lift and 94% positive sentiment.
“To truly create resonance, advertisers can no longer restrict themselves to a single screen,” said Neuheuser. “They must leverage the behavior of consumers to gain insights and deliver targeted messages across all screens and do so in a way that matches the contextual setting.”
Much like the teams that didn’t cut down the nets in Houston, brands can certainly learn what it takes to become a champion.