All the (Real) Time in the World

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To say that the 2014 FIFA World Cup audience is diverse is a bit like saying the ocean is deep. Or Grand Central Terminal is busy at rush hour. Or that cats rule the Internet. (Clearly all true statements.) The challenge in connecting with such a massive group of people is obvious. The way to overcome that challenge is relevant, real-time marketing.

With 32 national teams participating in the World Cup—which kicks off, literally, on June 12 in host nation Brazil—and with hundreds of millions of viewers set to tune in around the globe, doing a mass media buy means missing out on a tailor-made targeting opportunity. On the one hand, yes, you know you'll be reaching lots of World Cup fans, or at least people with some interest in the games. There's no lack of World Cup fans out there and it's relatively easy to find them. But consider the other hand: time zones.

“What really matters is what time of day you're serving your content and how people are going to view it,” says Eric Bader, CMO of ad tech company RadiumOne. “Live sports are often DVR-proof—with the exception of world events like the Olympics and the World Cup, which happen in a different time zone than where most of the interested viewers are.”

Fans will be streaming games—and that's why you need data on your team. Knowing exactly when a particular fan-base is most likely to watch a certain game means you have the opportunity to speak directly to them. Serving general World Cup-related content to fans from Mexico or Cameroon is fine. But serving specific content about the Mexican national team or about Cameroonian (I just like that word) players to an audience of dedicated fans means relevance—and relevance means resonance.

“There's a clear connection between data and providing a better experience for users,” Bader says. “And there's also, of course, a direct correlation between relevance and the likelihood to connect with an ad and to take actions that are meaningful to advertisers.”

World Cup viewers put the “fan” in “fanatic,” which means a total score for marketers who make the effort to appeal to local markets.

Keep this guy in mind. ---------------------> He represents the enthusiasm that's yours for the tapping. 

“It's about the opportunity to create unique content tied to the local spirit and excitement related to the World Cup,” Bader says. “Producing content that's affiliated with a country, a team, or even a continent is a great foundation for advertisers before, after, and during the games.”

One organization that's taking advantage of real-time marketing during the World Cup is the English Football Association, also known simply as the Football Association, which acts as the governing body for all the football teams in England. The FA maintains all team websites and social media presences. In aggregate, that means the FA has access to nearly 760,000 engaged fans through Twitter, about 2.8 million England Facebook fans, and roughly 18 million visitors to the various team sites. The FA implemented RadiumOne back in February to tap real-time data from its digital audience with a two-fold goal: serve more relevant content quickly and provide deeper insights to sponsors and advertisers.

As visitors to FA sites share content—for example, by sending URLs for articles on club websites via Facebook or email, or posting or sharing links on Twitter or Reddit—that information is collected as anonymized data. Not only does the FA see what content is being shared, it also can see all the social activity and follow-on interaction engendered from the original share, even via mobile.

Using that information the FA can track user behavior in real time—including whether a person is in-market right at that particular moment—and then immediately put a relevant ad in front of someone who's shown active interest, and, by extension, to anyone in his or her social network who's also shown an interest in the shared content.

In other words, it's a win/win situation.

“The content therefore creates a kind of radiant quality for a unique segment which, at that moment in time, becomes a new monetizing opportunity the FA can offer to advertisers,” Bader says. “And if you can understand what content is super popular and what people are sharing, you can also make sure to produce more content like that to drive hard traffic numbers and justify higher ad rates.”

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