June 12, 2018

The World Cup will account for one in ten of every new ad dollars spent on advertising globally this year. That's the takeaway from Zenith's report this year, which predicts the tournament will add $2.4bn to global advertising this year.

There is an interesting takeaway from the report, regarding social, but first the big numbers about how the World Cup will boost ad spend.

The biggest benefactor is not obvious, when you think about football, but completely logical when you think about market size alone. Zenith predicts that major brands' desire to show the Chinese market they are associated with the event -- although China has not qualified -- will give the country's ad market a $835m boost. That's roughly twenty times the size of the GBP40m uplift predicted for the UK.

The Chinese increase is also double the boost the US is expected to receive -- although this is hardly surprising, considering that its national team has not qualified. As one might imagine, in such a huge market, this is still just a 1% increase for the Chinese market and so one has to look to Russia to see the biggest uplift, percentage-wise. The extra $64m spent in the host nation will lead to a 2% increase in its advertising market.

Zenith is making a strong additional point that this will be a social World Cup because 40% of the potential audience will be asleep when a game takes place. I'm not so sure. I've been struggling to find a country in the competition that is not within half a dozen hours or so of Moscow time. OK -- the honourable exceptions might mean some early mornings in Latin America and some late nights in Australia, Japan and South Korea.

I'm not saying that this won't impact viewing figures and there won't be bleary-eyed fans drinking coffee to wake up or to keep themselves from falling asleep. From what I can see, these countries' group stage matches tend to be neatly slotted into the best kickoff time to mean that no nation's fans should be sleeping while the games are on.

So I'm just not sure how the 40% of the potential audience is asleep during games. If you prioritise each of the countries playing, both sets of fans should be awake -- but like any tournament, some games will happen when half the world is asleep. Check out the schedule, however, and it looks like the organisers have done their best to fix kickoff times around each country's time zone back home.

Where I do absolutely agree with Zenith is that social will play a larger role this year compared to any previous competitions. It's not so much about fans being asleep and then catching up, although there will be an element of this. It's much more about joining in with the second-screeners watching live games or building up to them as well as those who want to quickly see what happened in games elsewhere in the tournament.

Small clips to catch up and then discussions around the upcoming and ensuing games will make it the most social World Cup yet.

The other obvious reason is that brands have spent hundreds of millions of pounds to be associated with the tournament and so want to reach out on social. Conversely, a lot of mega brands -- Pepsi and Nike to name just two -- will do all they can to gate crash the party without paying the mega bucks required to reference the World Cup directly. Put the two together and you've got a lot of budget looking to sponsor posts and kick-start conversations with fans.

The irony, as ever, will be that by the end of the tournament fans will have little understanding of who the official sponsors are and who are just riding the World Cup wave.

Television ads will play the biggest part in this confusion, but their messages will be rammed home on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter in the most social World Cup to date.

by Sean Hargrave
Courtesy of mediapost


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