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Marketing and Advertising Lessons From 2020 That Could Make a Difference in 2021

29/12/2020

Marketing and Advertising Lessons From 2020 That Could Make a Difference in 2021 By Ken Kerschbaumer, Editorial Director

Monday, December 28, 2020 - 12:47 pm

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If 2020 taught us anything, it was that the world of sports found a way to get through the pandemic with creativity, innovation and sheer force of will. It also doesn't hurt that the advertising dollars that fuel professional sports were that giant incentive to keep leagues, owners and fans aligned and the athletes on the field. Here too, we saw major innovations and creativity in sports marketing and advertising as brands found new ways to reach sports-hungry consumers. But how does the unique experience of 2020 shape the path forward into 2021? And how will next year be different - and perhaps represent a new normal - for sports marketers?

Matt Voda, OptaMine Software, CEO

Like almost every industry on the planet, much of what the 2021 sports marketing model will look like is predicated on how well the pandemic is controlled. Whether it be a vaccine, therapeutics or a combination of both, sports marketers will chiefly be concerned with whether or not teams are able to fill stadiums. That is a determinant as to whether marketers can rely on in-stadium advertising like scoreboard-related sponsorship or event activation.

But that's not the only consideration. Even after the pandemic is controlled, those looking to identify potential in-stadium activations will need to weigh whether the economic impact of the pandemic will cause a dip in demand for tickets in 2021.

For this reason, brands will also shy away from on-premise sponsorships. A brand's logo on the scoreboard doesn't matter if nobody sees it. Leagues, teams and broadcast networks will need to continue innovations in virtual and augmented realities, digital signage and second-screen in-game experiences to offset uncertain on-premise investments. Will 2021 be the year that brands' logos start to appear on all players' jerseys across all of the major American sports leagues? The Magic 8 ball says signs point to yes. And leagues trying new, innovative advertising mechanisms will look to the NBA for guidance on effectiveness as they lack their own ability to prove to brands that these innovations actually work. In this way, it will be a year of transition where the technology innovation outpaces the brands' ability to measure effectiveness. Expect 2022 to reconcile this disconnect, and continue the reshaping that began in 2020.

Unquestionably, though, the smart brands that shape their advertising plans with a foundation of flexibility will see success. Flexibility in 2021 means shifting more spend to digital, which can be turned off and on more precisely depending on the circumstances inside the stadiums. Flexibility also means that contracts and agreements allow brands to alter, adjust and opt-out of commitments if the market finds itself in wildly swinging and highly uncertain recovery mode. Lead times will be highly compressed, and advanced buys will disappear.

Ultimately behavior of audiences - in this case sports fans - will be that guiding North Star for marketers. What 2020 proved was that fans were starved for sports content, literally, of any kind. Adding to that phenomenon is the legalization of sports gambling. Several states have already legalized it with more state-specific legislation expected in 2021.

Regardless of how the in-stadium experience is impacted, the legalization of sports gambling increases engagement in second-screen experiences and overall across sports. That could present opportunities regardless of how the in-stadium experience is affected by the pandemic.

Audience engagement - and where they are engaged be it at the stadium or on their couch - is the critical piece to this puzzle.

Fans are the glue that make this whole market work and all participants need to do the right things for the audience. What 2020 proved is that when leagues did right by fans, they showed up - well, virtually anyway. And what that tells us all is that even when things are terrible, and in 2021 they could still be very bad, the fans make it all work, and make it all worthwhile.

Matt Voda is CEO at OptiMine Software, a leader in Cloud-based cross-channel marketing analytics and optimization. He's helped sports properties like the NBA measure the national TV ad impact on national broadcast TuneIn ratings. He joined the company from United Health Group, where he led consumer marketing and analytics within the $40B Optum division, developing and deploying sophisticated analytics-driven approaches to yield significant gains in consumer engagement and ROI. Matt also spent 11 years at Digital River as VP of Product Management, helping develop the world's first cloud-based e-commerce platform.
LINK: https://www.sportsvideo.org/2020/12/28/marketing-and-advertising-lesso...
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