The 2010 World Cup was the largest period of sustained activity for any event in Twitter’s history.
This article talks about how social media was the most effective marketing platform during the world cup.
Social media is set to be the advertising winner at the Brazil World Cup
With the World Cup kick-off in Brazil just days away, broadcasters are making final preparations for the quadrennial, global TV sports jamboree, but in an increasingly mobile and social world the marketing battle is going digital.
Traditional media sectors including TV and radio are predicted to enjoy their usual advertising revenue bounce. However, the real winner, if not yet in overall revenue then certainly in terms of where marketing resources and effort are being directed, is social media such as Twitter, YouTube and Facebook.
Adidas has launched its biggest ever campaign to support its sponsorship of the World Cup and tellingly has opted to spend more on digital marketing than TV ads. For the 2010 World Cup just 20% of marketing spend was digital. “It’s not about a need to do ‘the big TV ad’,” says Tom Ramsden, global brand marketing director for Adidas football. “This will undoubtedly be the most social World Cup ever and probably the most social event in history.”
The importance, and power, of a social media strategy is underlined by Twitter which says there have already been more posts about the World Cup before a ball has been kicked in Brazil than for the entire tournament in 2010. “The 2010 World Cup was the largest period of sustained activity for any event in Twitter’s history,” says Lewis Wiltshire, the head of Twitter’s global World Cup effort. “In early March we had already passed the total number of tweets generated around that tournament, so Brazil is huge.”
Like all major sponsors Adidas has launched a global TV campaign, fronted by Lionel Messi, but the tag line of “all in” aims to push consumers to engage on social media platforms including Twitter. “Social media allows us to tell more stories than a 30- or 60-second TV spot may typically afford,” says Ramsden.
Sponsors are eager to piggyback on the new-found power of their stars on Twitter. Ronaldo, part of Nike’s World Cup push, is the world’s most popular sportsman on Twitter with 26.5 million followers. When he tweeted Nike’s second World Cup ad, released on its YouTube page, it caused a surge in views that topped 70m in days. Nike eventually turned to TV to run a shorter version of the ad.
The combination of live TV and Twitter is proving to be an irresistible combination, with research from Nielsen showing that 60% of UK users tweet while viewing. “The consumption of TV remains huge, especially when you add social media as a supporting cast,” says Ramsden.
There could be as much as $2.3bn spent on World Cup TV advertising globally, according to tentative estimates by media buying agency network Group M. But it is very difficult to identify any real increase in overall TV ad spend, due to factors such as whether advertisers then cut back in other periods, and other brands pulling their marketing in the cluttered airtime during the tournament.
Nielsen estimates that World Cup sponsors spent £20.8m on TV advertising in the UK – which pretty much means ITV, as the holder of the commercial TV rights – in the runup to and during the 2010 World Cup.
ITV is on track to make £70m more in TV advertising between April and July this year than last year, and could charge as much as £300,000 for coveted slots in England games. But analysis shows that rivals have also seen the same proportionate uplift in TV ad spend in the same months, bar June. This indicates that ITV is not seeing a huge rise in pure World Cup TV ad spend, only perhaps a boost of the order of £20m-plus.
In June ITV’s total ad spend will be up about 16%, and in peak time the main channel will be up more than 21%, with the rest of the market lagging at about 5% up year-on-year. “June is the only month there is a major difference for ITV,” says Chris Locke, UK trading director at media buying agency Starcom MediaVest. “There is a lot of money there, ITV is a market within the market. The World Cup is X Factor in a different dress really.”
Radio is booming with TalkSport, the commercial rights holder for the World Cup, predicting revenues will be up 45% in the second quarter. The outdoor advertising market – from billboards to posters, bus sides and London Underground ads – is also expected to benefit this summer.
But it is not good news for the press, with figures from 1 April to 5 June showing that there has been no World Cup runup boost, with ad spend down 5.4% year on year. “We see a lot of energy put [by newspapers] into pitching World Cup supplements to advertisers that appear to be struggling,” says one media agency press buyer. “The timing of many of the games is also worrisome in terms of up-to-date copy for ads to run next to. [Morning freesheet] Metro, for example, struggles with evening kick-offs.”
However, the single biggest factor in determing whether the World Cup is an advertising bonanza or a damp squib is completely out of the hands of brands and media owners alike. “Crunch time is July when the knock-out stages begin,” says one senior TV executive. “It cannot be overestimated how much of an impact on everyone’s coffers England’s performance has. Expectations are muted, but you just never know.”