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How to elevate your March Madness marketing game with DOOH

Vistar Media


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February 1, 2024 | 7 min read

Raj Lala, VP, demand sales & development at Vistar Media, shares tips and tricks for how marketers can leverage digital out-of-home to create meaningful moments throughout the buzzworthy tournament.

For basketball fans, a new year means one thing: March Madness is right around the corner. 

This jam-packed month has historically been a goldmine for brand marketers. The three full weeks of the tournament, not including the lead up, is an opportunity to capitalize on a pool of highly engaged consumers – whether they are the lucky fans watching in-person, tuning in at restaurants and bars, or catching the highlights from their phones or couch. 

Every year we all know March Madness is more than just a college basketball tournament – it’s when friends, families, coworkers and random people come together to create shared experiences. This time of year gives advertisers a real opportunity to reach potential new customers while also engaging core fans in a unique way.

Now we all know participating in the “madness” usually comes with a hefty price tag. But consider this – rather than only opting for pricey TV ad spots during games, which ran for a few hundred thousand to $2m in 2023, it’s worth considering out-of-home (OOH) media, specifically digital out-of-home (DOOH), as an opportunity to elevate how you approach your March Madness game. Here’s a brief look at why and how you can leverage the channel to create meaningful moments.

Why digital out-of-home media?

DOOH advertising surrounds people every day of their lives, seamlessly integrated into the real world. It reaches people where they live, work and play, offering brands repeated exposure. This ubiquity – combined with smart creative and personalized messaging – offers advertisers a platform to tell their story in ways that resonate emotionally and leave a lasting impression.

DOOH is a high-reach broadcast channel, but it’s not just ads – it’s part of the physical world that intertwines with daily life, making brand messages memorable and engaging. This is what makes it such a powerful media for tentpole advertising moments like March Madness. It’s flexible, allows you to seamlessly plan against specific audiences and activate media based on predetermined factors, such as tournament updates or game locations. The precision and boundless creative opportunity is unmatched.

Drive tune-in intent for specific games

So, if you’re a collegiate team, sponsor or brand looking to drive engagement and tune-in to the tournament itself, there’s a few ways DOOH can be used. With dynamic creative technology, your ads can adapt to the place and the moment, changing messages and images based on real-time data that inspires. A few ways you can use this technology to drive a specific CTA among fans include:

  • Live sports scoring: If you’re a NCAA basketball team or official March Madness sponsor, you can pull live scoring into your ad creative in relevant markets to drive fan engagement, tune-in intent or affiliation with the big game. 
  • Sports matchups & winners: Pull in the latest sports matchups to reinforce what time the big game is in specific markets, or even showcase winners in their hometowns to create hype.
  • Countdown creatives: Include real-time countdowns to the next game to encourage ticket sales and tune-in.
NBA playoffs OOH ad

Case study example

Learn how the NBA leveraged programmatic DOOH to increase game time tune-in intent by 25% for the 75th playoff season.

Generate localized buzz around March Madness

Maybe you’re not directly affiliated with March Madness in an official capacity, but you want to capitalize on the tentpole moment and tailor your ad campaign so it resonates with this particular fanbase. With DOOH, you can tap into the relevancy of dynamic creative, and precision of audience and proximity targeting to make a lasting impression. Here’s how:

  • Real-time promotions & offers: If you want to be a hometown hero, consider launching special promotions that unlock if your local NCAA team takes home the win. That’s the beauty of DOOH – it allows you to adapt your creative message instantly based on a game’s outcome.
  • Distance to nearest location: Want to drive people who didn’t score tickets in time to your restaurant or bar to catch the game? Enhance relevancy and encourage action by directing people to your nearest location where they can enjoy the game or special game-related deals.
  • Proximity targeting: Using point-of-interest (POI) targeting through a DOOH demand-side platform (DSP), you can display ads within close proximity to specific locations your audience is most likely to visit. For example, you can target DOOH screens surrounding the arenas, in grocery stores (where people may be stocking up on watch party supplies) or in office buildings (direct people to where they can watch the game after work).
  • Audience targeting: Taking things a step further, you can take the wants, needs and desires of a specific group of people (sports fans, for instance), and build creative and targeting strategies that align with these interests.
Example ad showcasing dynamic creative

Case study example

See how an entertainment company leveraged DOOH audience targeting to create a custom behavioral audience of “sports fans,” activating their ads based on where and when this audience was most likely to be. 

Final 4 thoughts

DOOH presents brand marketers, especially those leaning into buzzworthy moments like March Madness, with a few key opportunities: 

  1. Show the fans you care - Whether national or regional, DOOH can show your support for any team on a localized level, at scale.
  2. Playing offense - DOOH can enable any brand to show up in premium environments that can level up their brand perception and recall amongst consumers. 
  3. Creating clutch moments - By using dynamic countdowns, live scoring and game announcements, fans are drawn in to the creative for allowing them to catch a clutch or crucial game moment.
  4. Winning in overtime (OT) - The results of activating DOOH can extend well beyond the tournament. By capturing consumer’s device IDs who were exposed to DOOH, you can now reach them with secondary messaging post-tournament.

The world of DOOH has come a long way in the last several years – the wide variety of screens and venue types available, coupled with unique targeting capabilities, is why DOOH is a captivating channel guaranteed to elevate your marketing game this season.


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