Changing Digital Landscape Challenges Advertisers To Evolve

September  9,  2015 / By Dan Gadd

The digital landscape is making it easier to communicate to consumers during the biggest moments in sports and entertainment. Unfortunately, advertisers are not getting better at communicating.
The major social and online players are all creating products and targeting capabilities to help advertisers capitalize on the top moments stemming from broadcast sports and events, as the New York Times recently highlighted. Twitter’s Project Lightning and Amplify, Google’s partnership with the NFL, Facebook’s ‘cluster’ targeting – these are all meant to help brands get in front of NFL fans during the biggest moments of the season.
There’s a reason for this: top spikes in digital and social activity are usually triggered by marquee broadcast events. In fact, it’s widely known that 50% of all Tweets occur during sports contests. This, however, is not isolated to Twitter. People talk about these events across social platforms (including Facebook), go to news sites and blogs for content, and use search engines to find out everything they don’t know about the biggest moments. Nothing produces these big spikes as frequently as the NFL.

Yet, while the major online players are evolving and finding ways to give the advertisers a chance to be in the moment, the advertisers and marketers don’t know what to do once they’re there.
Look carefully at what the Brand and Agency representatives say about how they are going to reach people in these moments. They may use buzzworthy terms like “reaching fans at relevant moments,” or “wrapping brands more tightly around the real-time conversation,” but their actual uses of these new marketing products never strays far from pre-roll.
A better means for getting to these fans when they are excited about what their team shouldn’t be used to just deliver a digitized version of a TV ad. This isn’t owning the moment – this isn’t keeping your content or the brand relevant.
The issue is that while these brands and marketers understand the potential of large excited audiences, they don’t know the audience well enough to deliver something they actually care about. Do they know the story behind the #HereWeGo hashtag that Steelers fans use? Do they know the differences between the content that Eagles fans will react to versus content that Giants fans want to see?

Take Tide’s #OurColors campaign, for example, which Taylor leads execution and strategy on. By focusing on delivering content tied to the passion fans have for their team, with a colors theme relevant to the Tide brand, a laundry detergent has created the top branded hashtag in the NFL, and has owned the NFL Draft among sponsor brands for three years running.
The products that Twitter, Facebook and Google are rolling out are fantastic, but the potential of those products is maximized only when they are used to deliver content that can truly capitalize on these special moments. This means knowing what each segment of fans will get excited about. It means doing more than slapping your logo on a pre-roll.
From a brand perspective, these moments won’t be owned by an ad team or a creative team. They will be owned by those that truly know how talk to sports fans and create content they react to. Brands need to stop thinking about how to amplify their ads, and start creating content that fits the moment.

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