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Audience Targeting Brand Strategy Women's Football

How advertisers can score with streaming audiences during the World Cup

By Ian Darby, journalist

November 18, 2022 | 7 min read

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Digital audiences will be healthy for the upcoming Fifa World Cup tournament, but advertisers can really win by combining strong targeting with ‘in-flight’ measurement and optimization.

The Qatar World Cup is a massive opportunity for advertisers

The Qatar World Cup is a massive opportunity for advertisers

The Fifa World Cup is almost upon us. The month-long football festival kicks-off on November 20 in Qatar, and is expected to be among the largest-ever sporting events for brands in the digital space.

It’s also the first time that the tournament will be held in the final quarter of the year, shifting from its usual June/July slot. The World Cup will overlap with the holiday season, creating a unique opportunity for brands to turn football fans into festive shoppers. This has prompted healthy forecasts that advertisers will spend a total $2bn on World Cup-related activity globally.

Audiences were already turning towards digital and streaming options for the 2018 tournament, and that has only ballooned in the years since. That means success for World Cup advertisers this time around will require investment in the correct mix of advertising across broadcast, streaming, social and influencer marketing to reach a target audience that's passionate about football.

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Reaching World Cup fans online

Advertisers should meet audiences where they are, and sports audiences are online. They’re watching live matches on YouTube, reading content across platforms, and honing their own e-skills on streaming game sites.

To appreciate just how digital things have become, the UEFA Euro 2020 tournament was the most digital yet, generating 7.5 billion interactions and views on social media alone. We can expect this figure to be surpassed easily by the World Cup.

The data points to a clear evolution of the tournament experienced predominantly on streaming channels and social media. According to Nielsen Fan Insights, 80% of sports fans, 76% of NFL fans and 89% of football fans have regularly or sometimes watched sports on any streaming or online channel in 2022.

Last year’s Olympics also indicates the digital opportunities available to brands looking at investing around massive global sporting events like the World Cup. Highlights clips from the event placed on YouTube helped streaming reach a 28% share of US viewing in July 2021 (following the start of the Olympics coverage), up 2% when compared with May, and well ahead of broadcast on 24%.

And sports content is especially effective at attracting groups of people viewing the action simultaneously. A recent Nielsen study commissioned by Google found that 26% of the time multiple 18+ viewers are watching YouTube together on the TV screen, compared to 22% on linear TV.

These strong audience figures are particularly powerful when you consider how easy it is to throw ad budget at the wrong people. Brands waste nearly 40% of their digital advertising on unsuitable audiences, and 29% of CTV ad spend reaches off-target audiences. Therefore, having large numbers of like-minded sports fans viewing content during the World Cup is an attractive option.

Maximizing World Cup ad strategies

The key to any effective ad strategy is delivering the right message to the right audience at the right time. But how do World Cup advertisers actually do that? Refined targeting strategies and the ability to track ‘in-flight’ campaign performance.

When the opportunity is as big as a Q4 World Cup tournament, brands have to create feedback systems that allow for real-time experimentation, adjustment and optimization.

Advertisers and their partners can address this in two ways. The first is by investing in a measurement tool that analyzes unique reach (which acts as an early indicator for new customer acquisition), frequency and gross rating points across platforms. Better still if it can deliver performance data in nearly real-time, regardless of the platform, device or campaign size, so you can make updates before a campaign completes.

An alternative is for a brand to own its marketing performance data, making it less dependent on partners that use different metrics or that lack transparency. This is even more pronounced when your data partners work on different timelines to your organization. Consumer trends and tastes are evolving at such a rapid pace that marketers don’t want to be waiting on metrics that are days or even weeks old to make crucial decisions.

Either way, it’s important to push for measurement resources that provide open access to near real-time performance data.

Boosting ROI with targeted audiences

Nielsen research shows that delivering more ads to highly targeted audiences leads to an increased ROI of $2.60 per $1 spent.

Detailed audience data also reveals better ways for brands to hone their World Cup advertising content to specific audiences. For instance, while more men watch football than women overall, women’s interest in the World Cup dwarfs all other major international football competitions, and women currently make up 37% of all global football fans.

This is even more relevant given the tournament’s proximity to the festive period, when women have started to outpace men in retail spending during the holidays, both online and in stores. Nielsen Scarborough data found that 81% of US female consumers shopped online in Q4 of 2021, up 9.5% from Q4 2019, while male consumer online shopping was up 6.7% over the same period.

The Qatar World Cup is a massive opportunity for advertisers. Not only because it will be watched by two-thirds of the world’s population at some point, but these fans will be highly engaged, and well-disposed towards buying brands that reach them with the right content.

To find out more about how to reduce media spend waste during the Fifa World Cup and intel on in-flight campaign optimizations, download Nielsen’s report here.

Audience Targeting Brand Strategy Women's Football

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