The audience marketers can’t afford to ignore when it comes to sporting events

Blis’ real-world intelligence reveals why digital advertisers looking to tap into upcoming sporting events like the Rugby World Cup should consider American audiences.

By Nathan Lawson, Senior Insight Manager, Blis

Over the summer the eyes of the world have been focused on Europe as it plays host to some of the biggest sporting events in the world, including the Women’s World Cup, the Cricket World Cup and Wimbledon. These events provide a massive commercial opportunity for the host nations; it’s not only the event organisers who stand to benefit from the tournaments, with rewards also seeping into the local economies.

Taking the recent Cricket World Cup as an example, IBIS World estimated that it would deliver an economic boost in excess of £435 million to UK businesses, with more than 50% of spectator expenditure outside of the stadiums. This has a tangible impact at a local level; EY estimated that hosting five games each would be worth £32 million and £18 million to the cities of Nottingham and Birmingham, respectively.

It should be no surprise that these events have such a pronounced impact. After all, following your team internationally has always incurred significant expense. But, for this price, visitors are looking for a high-quality travel experience beyond the confines of the stadium. This provides businesses with both an opportunity to enhance their offerings and also the challenge of how to integrate into the spectator’s journey. To effectively achieve this goal they need to learn more about the audience.

Blis’ real-world intelligence enables us to get an understanding of the most prominent nationalities within the foreign audience by examining devices across the various stadiums at each tournament. This analysis shows that while there are some important shifts in the nationalities of key spectator groups at each tournament - influenced by team participation and the regional popularity of each sport - the American audience consistently emerges as the largest opportunity for targeting.

It’s often said that winning never gets old. And this high level of support could be reasonably expected for the Women’s World Cup and Wimbledon, where the U.S. national team and the Williams sisters have been dominant forces in their respective sports over the last 15 years. However, the biggest surprise from our findings was that Americans represented the largest single foreign group at the Cricket World Cup. While the sport hasn't been broadly popular in the USA since the 19th century, the high level of American tourism to Britain and the popularity of its traditions may be encouraging an active interest.

This would suggest that while the prospect of success is undoubtedly an important factor motivating travelling supporters, it is not the sole factor and perhaps not the most decisive, which can lead to a more diverse audience. This is supported by the fact that, of the top five foreign spectator groups at Wimbledon, only the United States had a representative in the semi-finals of the Men's or Women's singles tournaments.

Businesses seeking to benefit from the upcoming Rugby World Cup, the UEFA Euro 2020 and the Summer Olympics should bear this in mind for their media planning. Whatever the occasion, whatever the continent, the U.S. audience should not be ignored and continue to present the greatest opportunity for digital advertisers looking to grow their customer base. By widening their targeting strategy around topical events to include this already highly engaged audience, advertisers are set to reap the rewards. To paraphrase an American classic, host it and they will come.

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