How Marketers Are Raising The Stakes With Sports Fans

By Courtney McKlveen, Head of US Field Sales, Oath

courtneyWhether it’s on the field, court or rink, sports fans never miss a beat when it comes to keeping up with their favorite teams. From catching the latest game, to watching highlight clips, to reading analysis from their favorite experts, dedicated fans have an unrivaled passion that keeps them glued to their screens. As a result, sports has become a huge playing field for marketers looking to increase awareness, capture brand loyalty, and ultimately drive purchases. Not to mention, with sports fans constantly engaged on mobile devices, there is a massive opportunity to reach these always-on consumers in the moment. For marketers, investing in this passionate audience is a great way to maximize marketing dollars and ensure you’re getting the biggest bang for your buck.


But with so much content directed at sports fans, they have higher expectations than ever. Marketers must navigate these three key trends to succeed with consumers.

Live Video

We spend 5 hours a day on our phones. The rise in mobile, coupled with sharper video quality, has turned mobile video into an essential part of sports fans’ daily lives. Fans want to be tuned into the action as it happens, even while on-the-go. Whether tuning in for an NFL game or other top content, live video, in particular, has skyrocketed in popularity across events and experiences! In fact, some reports predict that live video streaming on mobile devices will grow by 39 times in the next five years.

For marketers, aligning their ads with live video can be a powerful way to boost brand awareness and consideration; not to mention, it can reach massive audiences at scale, especially hard to engage and create action with cord-cutters and cord-nevers. Marketers can capitalize on this trend by creating experiences that are deeply integrated and authentic as part of the live event, such as a branded halftime show, or running seamless video ads alongside it, to drive positive emotions for the viewer.   

Branded Content

Today’s sports fans aren’t tethered to the TV. They’re consuming content across screens. As a result, brands are getting creative with how they reach and engage their audiences. Sports is about passion and community, and brands that align with those values can win big.

Take Pizza Hut, who scored with football fans leading up to and during the Big Game last year. Their custom mobile and desktop game, Squares Pick’Em, capitalized on sports fans’ love of friendly competition, providing a fun and interactive experience. Pizza Hut was able to build a strong connection with fans, and is betting big on this strategy again in 2018.

Native Advertising
Sports fans love to read and watch expert analysis, interviews and replays around each game, so brands need to be smart about how they leverage this quick-twitch engagement. Native ads are one of the most effective ways brands can reach fans with content that they’ll actually enjoy interacting with. When placed in the right context and powered by data and intent signals, native performs stronger than traditional display ads at building trust and driving engagement. It’s also an ad format experiencing exciting innovation, helping brands market to sports fans in fresh ways.

From the Big Game to everyday fandom highlights, sports fans have proven to be one of the most passionate groups of consumers. By meeting fans where they are, and delivering content that doesn’t disrupt their experience and actually adds intrinsic value, marketers can turn sports fans’ team love into brand love.

The Cynsiders column is a platform for industry leaders to reach out to colleagues, followers, and the public at large. In their own words and in targeted Q&As, columnists address breaking news, issues of the day, and the larger changes going on in the ever-evolving world of television, video and digital. Cynsiders columns live on Cynopsis’ main page and are promoted across all daily newsletters. We welcome readers’ comments, queries, and column ideas at

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