Boosting live sports ads

Thomas Z. Ramsøy

March 11, 2021

As the world is staying at home more, consumption of online and TV content has exploded. This is also the case for live sports events, and when the audience is only virtual and not in the arena, advertising has a single focus: to be seen on the screen. So how do different sport types fare under closer inspection? Here, we have a look at three types of sports ads.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, one of the areas most affected by lockdowns was that with large live audiences. This includes sports events, where people are moving from experiencing their favorite sports both at the stadium as well as through broadcast, to now solely tuning in to the broadcasts.

This also means that the opportunities for branding are getting slimmer. Or perhaps they are better opportunities? After all, sports events engage large scores of viewers, and at least during many parts of the sports events, all eyes are on the game.

Branding sports events

So how can you optimally brand during those events?

Sure, you can go for ads during the sports breaks. But how about putting your ads where the viewers' eyeballs are? That's what is possible with banner ads around the area where the players are.

To test the effect of such banner ads, we ran a Predict analysis of three types of games: soccer, basketball, and Formula 1. Here, we looked at how much attention banner ads would get while they were in view. Some examples of images are shown below:

For each image, we drew Areas of Interest (AOIs) around each of the banner ads, and analyzed the attention level they got. This we then combined to compare the categories of ads.

Sport ads attention is low

First, we found that banner ad attention overall was relatively low, with most ads receiving less than 10% of attention.

A histogram showing the distribution of attention across all banner ads.

One sport wins on banner attention

We then looked at whether there would be any differences between soccer, basketball, and Formula 1 on banner ad attention. What we found surprised us:

  • Soccer games on average got more banner ad attention than Formula 1 and basketball ads
  • Basketball banner ads got the lowest amount of attention

The results can be seen here:

A boxplot showing the results of visual attention to banner ads across the three sports types.

A statistical analysis also showed that there were significant differences between the sports types (ANOVA: F = 5.17, p=0.007), and that occer scored higher than basketball (p = 0.006) but not Formula 1 (p = 0.171)

A deeper look at why

Additional qualitative analyses suggested that there were more banner ads getting attention during soccer games than any other sport. This suggests that these games got even better coverage and likelihood of being seen. A function of this is that soccer games are filmed farther away from the field, and thereby allowing more banner ads to be shown.

By contrast, basketball banner ads are typically low in the field of view, and is often covered by players as the game occurs.

These results suggest that different live sports have different banner ad attention. Why this is the case is still unknown, but it is possible that at least some of this variance is due to the following factors:

  • Positioning relative to the camera -- if the camera is "on the ground" banner ads are less likely to be seen
  • Camera distance to the game -- more banners are shown when the game is seen from afar
  • Crowding -- in many games, there is a lot of visual crowding around the space where banner ads are
  • Speed -- how long an ad is shown depends on the type of sports, think about the difference between Formula 1 and golf, for example

Taken together, banner ads during sports games can already now be tested for optimal positioning and performance. Each game has its own dynamics and appeal. But in terms of attention as a currency, some games may be better at advertising on than others.

Speaking of games better for branding, do you know how the pinnacle of sports advertising, the Super Bowl, truly measures up in terms of ad attention?

This blog has all the answers you’re looking for.

Boosting live sports ads

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