The Power of Second-Screen Advertising for Live Sports

Brandon Pollard

Sports fans, do you pick up your phone during commercial breaks or lulls in the action? You are not alone. Viewers are increasingly interacting with secondary devices to browse the mobile web or scroll through apps to fill their entertainment needs. 

This second screen viewing provides a unique opportunity to advertise across programmatic display, social media, and other channels.

Successful live sports advertising requires identifying the target audience, understanding their viewing and engagement habits, and developing innovative and captivating strategies. Reaching engaged mobile audiences provides a great starting point for marketing success.

🏀 What’s the ideal spring sport event for advertising? 🏀
“March Madness captures everyone’s attention in the spring, with sports fanatics and nonsports fans joining the excitement. The NCAA tournament surrounds us via the games all day/every day. The games are everywhere, including local offices, bars/restaurants, and barbershops. As advertisers and brands, it is nice to know where the eyeballs of Americans will be, and March Madness is an event that attracts millions of eyeballs and billions of impressions.”
Rondell Wilson, Ad Operations, KORTX

Spring Sports Viewing Trends: More Streaming & More Screens

Viewers are no longer content with just one screen – browsing ad-addressable websites and interacting with social media on their mobile devices during games. 

📺 Sports streaming continues to grow.

In 2023, eMarketer estimates there will be 95.5M digital live sports viewers. By 2026, that number could be up to 121.3M, or 35% of the population of the US. As more and more viewers cut the cord, they’ll find alternative places like CTV and apps to watch their chosen teams and sports.

🏀 Multi-channel marketing potential abounds.

41% of the March Madness viewers browsed ad-addressable websites within an hour of watching the game. 59% of those second-screen opportunities were on a mobile device. 

🤳🏾 Eyes on more than the television – multi-device sports fans.

Nearly half of all live sports viewers admit to checking a second device while watching a live game. Considering the numbers that tune into the NFL, NBA, and NCAA, that’s a lot of eyes on mobile devices!

🎲 Sports betting is here to stay.

In 2023, eMarketer estimates that 23.1M US adults (or 8.7% of the population) will be online sports bettors. That’s a 4.1M growth from one year to the next! These bettors will explore their options, odds, and stats before the game(s) kick-off.

Digital Live Sports Viewers, 2022-2026, eMarketer – US Online Bettors, 2019-2023, eMarketer – March Madness Statistics (2022), WalletHub

📱 How do you use your phone while watching sports? 📱
“I google players and see what other fans are saying on Facebook & Twitter. My phone is constantly at my side while I watch the games, but I’m frequently up from the TV for commercials, meaning the impressions miss me. In-game advertising and mobile ads are perfect for multi-tasking sports watchers like me.”
Stephanie Taylor, Ad Operations Strategist & Michigan Wolverines Fan, KORTX 

Reminder: Audience-First Marketing Wins Everytime

Mobile channels such as apps, social media, and web browsers are ideal for targeting mobile sports fans. However, all sports fans or mobile users are not alike.

Marketers need to dig into deep insights to gain a competitive edge and drive success. An audience-based approach is crucial for effective campaign plannin by prioritizing the understanding of audience behavior and preferences. Identifying your core audience and preferred engagement channels can be accomplished by using consumer research or First-Party data. This helps discover messaging and placement tactics that resonate with the audience. Optimize your marketing strategy with a robust audience discovery process to increase efficiency and deliver meaningful campaigns. 

KORTX Intelligence will revolutionize your audience analysis.

Unlike other partners who rely on standard demographics, KORTX Intelligence gives you a deeper understanding of your audience.

Gain a competitive edge and unlock growth opportunities.

Find My Customers.

Capture Sports Viewers’ Second Screen with a Mobile-First Strategy

Nearly half of all sports watchers check social media and sports-related websites during the game. This two-screen experience gives brands a unique way to advertise during the games, allowing marketing teams to capture specific moments before, during, and after the tournament games.

Key Sports Marketing Moments

🧐 Start During the Research Phase 

Sports fans don’t just watch the game. Whether betting, filling out a bracket or being highly engaged with their team, fans browse endless articles and websites to get the most up-to-date information on players and their chances. Use contextual marketing options to get impressions and clicks from these sites.

🏀 During the Game

Advertising during a game is a great way to capture new viewers, especially if the creative is engaging and surprising. Consider advertising across social media (especially those active during games like Twitter and Facebook) to grab your audience’s attention. 

🍕Before & After the Game

Idle moments mean users will be pulling their phones out. Advertise across mobile channels to capture those eyes. This is an especially great time for QSR brands who can suggest victory (or loss) pizza or wings.

Second Screen Mobile Channels

Mobile marketing is a fantastic way to avoid big-budget commercials and sponsorships. Instead of big splashy moments, mobile-first advertising helps brands provide small moments of engagement. Use the ever-present need to scroll during commercial breaks and a lull in the game to your advantage by investing in these mobile marketing channels.

Programmatic Display on Sports Content

Super fans or curious onlookers tend to explore sports news websites and check scores for other matches. This moment is an excellent time to put a display ad in front of your audience. Instead of being the commercial your potential customer ignores, showcase your brand via mobile advertising.

Consider buying contextual placements throughout sports blogs, news, and more, where many bettors may be going for their information before placing bets or filling out a bracket.

Paid Social Media 

With such a large following and fanbase, social media channels (such as Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram) provide an excellent way to capture fans’ attention. Consider paying for paid placements during games for specific, qualified audiences. 

Influencer Posts & Programs

Working with popular sports influencers and commentators via promoted posts on their social media channels or websites is a great way to gain access to super fans. At the same time, they scroll before, during, or after events. 

In-App Advertising 

Many sports fans catch the game or just the highlights across sports apps like the ESPN App, or the official NCAA March Madness Live app provide excellent opportunities for fans on the go.

Beyond the Second Screen: CTV & Cross-Channel Marketing

Sports fans present a significant opportunity for cross-device marketing, especially during events like March Madness or the NFL playoffs. A sequential messaging strategy across desktop, mobile, and CTV to engage users throughout the season or tournament will increase brand awareness. This approach provides brands with multiple touchpoints to capture users’ attention over several weeks, increasing the chances of effective engagement. 

For instance, target users streaming early games on their desktop, follow up with mobile social media ads during later rounds before finally reaching users with CTV ads during the final games. By using a cross-device strategy tailored to sports fans’ behavior during events like March Madness, marketers can improve their brand’s visibility and boost engagement with their target audience.

🏈 What are the most impactful ways to advertise during sports? 🏈
“Ideally, you’d have a multi-channel and cross-device strategy in place to capture the attention of consumers regardless of how they are engaging with content and your brand.”
Chris Rowell, Co-Founder and CRO, KORTX

Sports Advertising: Innovation = Results!

By understanding how viewers consume and interact with spring sports content, marketers can tailor their strategies to reach their target audience effectively. The growth of online betting and office brackets also presents a unique chance for marketers to tap into sports fans’ mobile browsing and create innovative campaigns that capture viewers’ attention. With the right approach and creativity, marketers can make the most of this exciting month-long tournament and drive significant marketing results.

🏀🏆 Score big this spring sports season!

KORTX can access your favorite NBA and NCAA basketball games, playoffs, and March Madness coverage. 

  • Reach your audience across multiple platforms with a flight from 3/1/2023 to 4/30/2023 and geo-targeting options.
  • Real-time data triggering and dedicated campaign analysis and optimization for optimal results. 
  • 24-48 hour turnaround for creative execution, investing in video advertising has never been easier.
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About the Author

Brandon Pollard is Director of Ad Operations at KORTX. He enjoys cloud rap, soccer, and traveling.

Brandon Pollard

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