Does World Cup media score marketer goals?

07/10 By John Bonanno

The World Cup is a sort of sports-world lightning in a bottle, striking every four years to capture the attention of fans around the world. According to FIFA, more than one billion fans tuned in to watch the final game of the 2014 tournament played between Argentina vs. Germany. This year, through June 22, viewers have already watched 6.9 billion minutes of World Cup action.

Where viewers go, advertisers and their marketing dollars follow. The World Cup is a major opportunity for brands in nearly every global market. In fact, the World Cup is expected to drive a 4.2% increase in advertising spend in the UK.

At IAS, all eyes have been glued to our screens watching the action from Russia. So, in honor of the beautiful game, we decided to take a look at the performance of World Cup associated digital campaigns to see if anything surprising emerged. We’ve started our study in early June to capture campaigns leading up the tournament and continued through the end of group play on June 28th. Here’s what we saw:

  • Impression volume peaked one day after group play began, a 69.4% increase from 2 days previously
  • While the volume of World Cup related advertising increased across traditional digital advertising as well as social platforms like Facebook and Twitter after the games started, it declined on YouTube. Advertisers may have been reticent about competing with live video streams of the games which were tightly controlled by major broadcasters.
  • Advertisers initially struggled with high video fraud levels, up to 3.1%, but were able to clean them up reducing fraud to 2.0%, a 34.3% decrease.
  • We also observed similar trends in brand safety, where violations ahead of the group stage video averaged around 9.6% but declined by 12.8% to 8.4% once group play started
  • Perhaps unsurprisingly, we noted a substantial spike in UK-based impression volume corresponding to England’s first game against Tunisia (which they won 2-1)
  • Unfortunately for German advertisers (and the German national team), German impression volume spiked the day after the German team was eliminated after losing to South Korea. It is possible that, as one of the pre-tournament favorites, advertisers were saving their advertising budgets based on the assumption that Germany would advance out of group play

This year’s World Cup has already seen its share of surprises, including the elimination of Germany, Spain falling to Russia in penalty kicks, and the exit of two of its biggest stars, Argentina’s Messi and Portugal’s Ronaldo. Will there be more upsets? More penalty kick drama? And how will these twists influence advertisers and their campaigns?

At IAS we’ll be following all the action on the field, and on the web. Look for our comprehensive wrap up with the winners, losers and high-scorers of World Cup advertising after the tournament wraps up.

If you’re wondering how the World Cup stacks up to other major sporting events you can check here and here or learn more about global media quality trends by downloading our latest Media Quality Report.