A summer of sport: Why data collaboration will take gold

A summer of sport: Why data collaboration will take gold
Lucas Pickett
Tuesday, June 4, 2024

This summer, a combined 14,900 athletes will descend on Paris to compete in over 800 events across the Olympic and Paralympic Games to once again put on one of the greatest sporting spectacles. And if the Olympic and Paralympic Games weren’t enough to get excited about, Germany will host the UEFA Euro 2024 championships, and the USA and West Indies will welcome the ICC T20 World Cup. 

For sports fans like me, summers don’t come much better - the stage is set for a scintillating summer of sports. From the opening ceremonies to the nailbiting penalty shoutouts (hopefully not involving my country, England), to the finals, and through to the closing ceremonies, people from all corners of the world will be tuning in. The 2020 Olympic Games in Toyko drew a global audience of 3.05 billion alone. The previous UEFA Euro championships saw a cumulative audience of over 5 billion, with a staggering 328 million people tuning in to watch the final live.

These vast numbers mean sports fans aren’t the only people excited for the summer ahead. This summer represents a significant marketing opportunity for organizations around the world. Just as the athletes have put in the hard yards preparing for the summer’s events, organizations need to make sure they deliver when it matters most to successfully connect and engage with the vast audiences tuning into the summer’s events.

The opportunity is clear, but advertisers are facing their own hurdles 

Major sporting events generate significant viewing numbers, and it’s not uncommon for media owners to break streaming records during these events. For those who play their cards right, these huge numbers translate into new users, allowing media owners to bolster their first-party data assets and addressable audiences. These audiences are attractive to brands and represent a huge opportunity: the chance to reach highly engaged audiences as they immerse themselves in sports, whether that’s through live sports on the big screen, social channels, or catching up on the latest news through their favorite websites and apps.  

However, advertisers face numerous challenges in their quest to reach relevant audiences and make their advertising dollars count. Fragmentation is a real challenge for brands, chief among them is knowing which are the best media placements for their brand and then accurately measuring the performance of their campaigns. On top of this, organizations worldwide are grappling with rising privacy legislation and heightened consumer awareness around how their data is used. 

Not to mention that advertisers will face intense competition in their own arena. They’ll compete with others for fame, attention, and, ultimately, business growth. Like the athletes who surround themselves with support teams for peak performance, brands seeking an edge must leverage the tools and technology they need for success: first-party data, direct data partnerships, and data collaboration. 

Why data collaboration will take the top step on the podium

By now, we all know that first-party data plays a crucial role in the future of data-driven marketing. But it is only through data collaboration that the full potential of this data is unleashed. The emergence of data clean rooms enables secure collaboration between brands, media owners, data owners, and other organizations to power data-driven strategies such as insights, planning, activation, and measurement, all while guaranteeing consumer privacy and data security. 

Just as elite athletes rely on experts to extract every ounce of performance possible, data collaboration empowers advertisers to harness the full fidelity of first-party data and bring a level of precision to campaigns not previously possible.

Brands can match and connect to new datasets through direct data partnerships, allowing them to transparently identify the media owners with the greatest affinity to their customer base, collaborate at an attribute level to tap into new customer intelligence and leverage second-party data to deliver relevant advertising to high-value audiences. Furthermore, post-campaign, ad exposure and outcome data can be safely analyzed in a clean room to understand the impact on business outcomes.

With the summer’s lineup of events just around the corner, let’s look at a few examples.

Retail Media and Connected TV (CTV)

Whether it’s those edge-of-the-seat moments watching the 100m finals to dreaded penalty shootouts, or the fierce sporting debates that’ll no doubt happen as friends and family gather for BBQs to make the most of the sport-filled days, millions will be tuning into the summer’s events. Twin this up with one of the hottest trends in advertising at the moment, the convergence of retail media and CTV, and the opportunity is rife for CPGs to connect with new audiences and acquire new customers. Taking this approach, CPGs such as Weetabix, Garnier, L’Oreal, and Walkers were able to securely leverage loyalty card data from Sainsbury’s Nectar360 to deliver relevant advertising across Channel 4, driving incredible results of up to 122% sales uplift.

In another example, Matchmaker, ITV’s retail media solution powered by InfoSum, enables CPGs to leverage loyalty card data from UK retailers Boots or Tesco. In one campaign using Boots’ data, a haircare brand increased conversions by 21% across the advertised range and also saw a positive halo effect, increasing conversions by 16% across the brand. In another campaign, an ice cream brand leveraged Tesco’s data to successfully launch a new flavor. The brand saw a 33% increase in conversions from those who bought the category and a 27% uplift from those who already bought the brand.  

Food delivery companies and quick service restaurants (QSRs)

If the weather where you are is as unreliable as the UK, BBQs aren’t always an option. Luckily, we now have food at our fingertips whenever the need arises in food delivery companies. In the lead-up to England’s quarter-final match during Euro 2020, JustEat stated that it expected a million orders, peaking at 2,500 a minute just before kick-off, while Deliveroo saw orders up by 25% during a prior game. Looking ahead to this summer, if food delivery companies can show up at the right time, in the right place, they stand to win new customers. Deliveroo has already proved this in a prior campaign with Channel 4. By matching its first-party data against Channel 4’s audience, Deliveroo was able to suppress existing customers from its acquisition campaign to reach audiences more likely to convert. The result? It increased app downloads by 20%.

Building this concept further, food delivery companies have insights into dining habits that are valuable to other brands, such as QSRs. They could collaborate with a food delivery company to identify new customers that don’t currently buy from them, or buy from competitors, and then target them with an introductory offer timed to the sporting event to acquire new customers. 

Brand awareness and driving incremental reach

For some brands this summer, it may not be about a performance or bottom-of-funnel play. For many, this summer is a prime opportunity to raise brand awareness. Data collaboration is driving innovation here too, enabling advertisers to plan effectively and extend incremental reach. With linear viewership in decline, especially in key younger demographics, brands must incorporate streaming and other online formats into their TV planning for a holistic strategy and to maximize reach this summer. Check out how Ads & Data, a data alliance in Belgium, recently drove 2.5x incremental reach and 2.8x purchase intention for a brand awareness campaign spanning linear, BVOD, and addressable TV.

Validating marketing investments into sports

Sponsoring major sporting events is big business. It was recently announced that the Paris 2024 organizing committee reached 99% of its sponsorship revenue target of €1.24 billion ($1.34 billion). With organizations allocating such significant budgets to sponsor these global sporting events, it’s vital to validate and gain insight into these investments.

This is where innovative uses of first-party data come into play. It can be used strategically to inform sponsorship strategies and wider marketing spend. For instance, a Premier League football club collaborated with Starcount, a data and insights agency specializing in consumer behavior, to do exactly this. Seeking to understand its customer base on a deeper level and increase brand engagement away from the field, it used Starcount’s data to verify existing consumptions about who its customers were, uncover new insights and characteristics about its audience to create better fan experiences, and validate existing and new sponsorship deals with a high affinity to its fan base.

Sprint ahead of the competition with InfoSum

No matter your marketing goals, these results prove that data collaboration is the gold medalist in the first-party data world. Summers packed with sports excitement like this don’t roll around every year, so advertisers need to bring their A-game to stand out and deliver when it counts. Data collaboration lets organizations seize this massive opportunity, unlocking the full potential of first-party data to run smarter, more effective campaigns with greater performance, precision and privacy.

At InfoSum, we’ve worked with over 150 global organizations to effectively leverage their customer data to achieve winning business outcomes. Ready to join them? Talk to an expert today and get in the game.

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