Nearly half of all video viewers worldwide (47%) are livestreaming more than they did last year, according to a recent report from the IAB. And, 44% also reported watching less live TV as a result of livestreaming.
Advancements in live video technology have rapidly changed viewership habits, perhaps most notably in sports.
For years industry experts have predicted the rise and adoption of livestreamed sports and now that reality is here. Just look at the World Cup livestream, which saw record numbers — from the most-watched Spanish livestream during Argentina vs Croatia, to the record 3.8 million Brits who tuned in for England vs Sweden.
We’re on the cusp of the livestream revolution.
We’re also halfway through the American football season, with NFL livestreams impacting and enhancing the game experience for viewers and advertisers alike. What does that mean for advertisers, and why should brands care?
Score a touchdown with mobile
Watching professional sports in 2018 is a highly interactive, cross-screen experience. Now thanks to a better mobile video experience — including a faster, sharper, higher-quality video stream — sports fans can take the game wherever they go. And it’s something fans are taking advantage of. In fact, one of our recent studies found 88% year-over-year growth in time spent watching videos on a smartphone.
Sports fans don’t want to just watch the game on-the-go, they want to participate. Fans are keeping an eye on their online fantasy sports leagues, reading the latest news, and scrolling social media, all while staying tuned into the live game. After all, for the most loyal of sports fans, there’s no such thing as a day off.
How are advertisers leveraging mobile? By tapping into the livestream revolution with video ads alongside great content, in addition to unique, custom content integrations. Timing is also key; advertisers must find that sweet spot between delivering the right message, natural to the experience, and creating an ad that’s 15 to 30 seconds long. This year, brands such as Hotwire, Skittles, and Universal Pictures are ready to reach football fans on their mobile devices during the NFL Live.
Winning brands bring the fan-first mentality to life
A consumer-centric approach is the hallmark to any successful ad campaign. But when marketing to sports fans in particular, and connecting during a live mobile moment, that fan-first mentality is paramount. Anyone in the professional sports industry will acknowledge that fans come first.
Just as fan engagement activities exist on the sidelines of a game, such as a contest on the jumbotron or a beloved mascot running around the stadium, innovative digital ads can provide the same fun content and consumer-experience. Over the past year some great new ad formats have been introduced to the industry that reflect that fan-first mindset. With AR, 3D, and full-screen native ads, these new tools are helping brands deliver the best possible experience for consumers across devices.
Go all in
As a brand marketer you can’t just dip your toe in custom content, you’ve got to dive right in. Brands cannot create meaningful modern-day consumer relationships without custom content; it’s the best advertising vehicle for trusted brand and should be aligned closely with brand safety. There’s a special intersection between great, custom storytelling in a brand safe environment.
Pizza Hut’s 2018 digital campaign for the Big Game is a great example of marrying custom content with brand safety. Pizza Hut digitized the beloved fan game 'Squares Pick'Em' within the Yahoo Sports Fantasy Football app, making it simple for users to create new pools, pick squares, share groups with friends, and order pizza — all with just a few simple clicks. The successful 'Squares Pick'em' game attracted fans from around the US who spent more than 9m minutes playing the game and 70% played on their mobile device or tablet.
For advertisers, sports enthusiasts represent a massive and committed audience. Technology has freed video to play by its own rules, unleashing sports fans from cords, cables, and dishes. Livestreamed games in particular create a huge playing field for brands to increase awareness, capture brand loyalty, drive brand love and, ultimately, purchases. Now that the reality of the NFL Live is here, how will your brand get in the game?
Jeff Lucas is vice president, head of North American sales and global client services for Oath