- July 12, 2018

Leveraging Digital Platforms to Drive Live Sports Tune-In

Autum Molay
Product Marketing Manager

More than 90 percent of linear sports content is viewed live, making it a valuable place for advertisers to reach engaged audiences.* In fact, $10.3 billion was spent advertising on sports programming last year alone.** For networks looking to carve out their share of this advertising pie, attracting and growing sports audiences is a must.

To understand how digital marketing channels can influence linear sports tune-in, we partnered with Google on a set of studies, which specifically focused on organic search and online video. Combining Comscore linear TV data with insights into Google organic search and YouTube ad campaigns, we unearthed some key findings for networks to keep in mind in their efforts to drive live sports tune-in.

"Last-Minute" Video Ads Drive the Most Tune-In – and Frequency is a Factor

Our analysis of mobile and desktop YouTube campaigns for more than ten live sports events revealed the ways in which marketers can hone the recency and frequency of online video campaigns to drive maximum viewership. Per our research of YouTube campaign data, households exposed to a video ad campaign within six hours of a game had a 26 percent higher likelihood of tuning-in.

Frequency was also a factor: Households that saw four or more ads prior to the event were 37 percent more likely to tune-in than those who saw just one ad.

These insights demonstrate the complementary nature of reach and frequency. To achieve maximum tune-in, campaigns should consider working to build up frequency over the course of their flight, but also try to hit the right viewers with at least one ad within six hours of the event start time.

Search Serves as a Complement to Linear Viewing Habits

It is a common misconception that people searching sports-related keywords either get all their news and information from the internet and aren’t as likely to tune-in to live events or that they are already avid fans – neither of which warrant extra advertising.

To test this idea, and to further understand the relationship between sports-searchers and linear tune-in, we observed households that had equal amounts of prior sports viewership and equal amounts of Google search usage for two months of last fall’s professional football season (November-December 2017). (Note, our study looked at how people are searching for sports, but not specifically indicating tune-in in their intent.)

We found that households that perform sports-related searches are, in fact, 14 percent more likely to tune in to live games on linear TV than non-searching households. This indicates that, even with equal viewing and searching habits, those who search for sports are even more likely to watch live sports on TV.

Diving deeper into the data, we discovered a connection between recency of the search and more engaged viewers. Households that conducted a sports-related search within 24 hours of the event start time watched on average two-and-a-half times more of a game than non-searching households.

Finally, we were able to determine that a higher volume of searches aligns with more TV engagement. Households that conducted at least two search queries before game time in a 24-hour window watched four times the total number of games and spent 16 percent more time watching each game.

The Big Takeaway: Digital and TV Play Well Together

According to a recent WPP report, global consumers are splitting their total media time – now spending a whopping 9.73 hours per day spread fairly evenly across online (38 percent of share) and TV (37 percent). The key insight for TV networks vying to capture larger live audiences is to understand the impact that digital advertising and digital behaviors, like search, can have when it comes to driving linear TV tune-in.

For online video campaigns, advertisers can use tune-in analyses to reveal the most efficient reach/frequency models that will drive the most impact. And in search, networks should view search behavior as a complementary factor to tune-in – one that is closely tied to higher viewer engagement.

In today’s complex media ecosystem, aligning digital and TV strategies for maximum results is often easier said than done. To find out how Comscore can provide the in-depth, cross-platform insights marketers need to drive impact, contact us today.

*Source: Comscore, June 2018
**Source: Standard Media Index (as reported in Media Village, “2017 Ad Spending in Review,” Feb. 27, 2018)

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