Fan Engagement with Outdoor Advertising

5842It used to be quite simple – you’d host a sporting event, competition or tournament, and people would flock right in to watch those games.

All you had to do – as the entity organizing these events – was to ensure that they all had something to eat or drink, and the rest was left to the athletes in the arena.

The world of sports, eSports and sporting events has come a long way from those days – today, it is all about engaging with your fans on a daily basis and staying ahead of the competition!

Today, the future of your sporting event lies in understanding your fans and providing them an experience that they cannot get anywhere else!

The whole process – as in every marketing campaign – starts with an understanding of who it is that we are targeting – the Fan!

We Know who Likes Us

The understanding of who a fan is and what their actual desires are stems from something a bit more basic – an understanding of why someone is a fan.

In essence, there are two types of fans:

    1. Hardcore Fans: These are people who identify with a team or athlete and follow them when they are performing as well as outside of the arena, stay abreast with news and, generally, keep an eye on proceedings that impact their favourite team or player
    2. Fairweather Fans: These are people who are looking for some form of entertainment, and are watching the sport or team primarily because it is more interesting than anything else that’s out there

Now, there are a lot more segmentations within each category – for e.g. there are Hardcore Fans who travel to tournaments and games, buy the merchandise, eat the food, drink the lemonade, and wear the badge with a sense of pride.

There are also Hardcore Fans who travel to the games, buy the merchandize, eat the food, drink the lemonade but aren’t intently invested in the badge.

Similarly, there are Fairweather Fans who may stay up to watch a match or game, late into the night.

Then, there are others who might, mid-game or mid-race, switch over to another channel for a show that they’d rather watch.

And that’s the nature of sports as an industry that most other products or services do not experience.

Soap companies don’t have to compete against footwear or cola companies but as a sports athlete, team or competition, you are always competing with the alternative.

You are competing with anything that the fan could do instead of watching you or your event – watch a movie, play video games, head out to eat, run errands or just work!

Your challenge, as the athlete, team, league or competition, is to capture the attention of the fan, not just during the event but before & after as well – stay on their minds!

The Rules of the Game

Traditionally, sports teams and organizations have a blueprint that’s laid out by others before them – they stay within the confines of those plans, only adding their own contribution to those plans as their variation.

So, if someone introduced a new team-member with an on-camera interview, other teams or athletes did the same, but with different questions maybe.

PXL_20211102_050857405The same goes for sporting events, leagues and competitions – there’s a standard format of releasing trailers or preview videos of the competition, publishing these on television, radio or the Internet, and running intro videos and static images on outdoor screens and billboards.

That’s how everyone had done it since the beginning of time – and that’s still what happens at almost every event today!

However, every now and then, there comes this moment when everything changes because someone decided to take a simple idea and change the way everything was done!

Take ‘Watch Parties’ for example: The concept of coming together and watching a game isn’t new – it’s happened in thousands of places around the world where you’d get together with family or friends.

It’s happened since games have been broadcast on television or radio, in private or public locations – however it’s been taken to another level with giant outdoor screens setup on streets, letting people watch games and events for free.

These screens are temporary structures setup for just one purpose – to let people watch events in a group and to allow brands/sponsors to reach all these people, all of whom come with common interests – the event itself.

Then there are eSports like DOTA2 and League of Legends, who are going down the action figure-marketing route and creating animated movies or series

These changes to the rules, which slowly become the norm over time, are essentially ways for sporting events to generate more revenues and reach wider audiences with some of the biggest, brightest moments of the event.

The Rules are Changing Again

Something changed again when the 2021 T20 World Cup got underway – where new teams like Namibia were making their debut, things were taking off with an off-field campaign that was changing the game.

Instead of running outdoor ads that merely highlight specific matches, run intro videos or use static images of players or teams with brands, there was a focus on making these outdoor ads much more interesting.


The idea of turning advertisements into entertainment is not new – it happens all the time on the Internet.

In fact, every time you see a Super Bowl ad, that’s what you’re watching – an advertisement that’s so entertaining, it’s part of the programming itself!

Now, how do you bring that same quality and entertainment into the outdoor ad-space?

Simple – you take the biggest moments from the matches and run your highlights’ reel on an outdoor screen!

Everyone does score updates and result-updates, but no one’s out there playing match highlights and when you see the reaction, you wonder why.

The match highlights make people stop and watch – whether it’s a huge shot, a spectacular catch or just an extraordinary moment of athletic performance, people stop to watch what they might have missed, or re-live the moment they saw on the television.

Essentially, that’s what outdoor advertising is about – making people stop and take a look!

That’s what’s happening at the cricket world cup this year – and all it takes is a little bit of imagination to see what’s working for your sports team, league or event.

Picture5Think of the key moments from your sport or eSport – think of the YouTube videos that people keep watching over and over again!

These are the moments that people are looking at because these are the moments that make them stop and look.

Think of these moments as the ones that your sporting event, team or competition needs to get people’s attention!

These moments, when combined with your event or team sponsors (or other brands), become the perfect tool to capture audience eyeballs.

It’s never about the Hardcore Fans – their association with the sport, team or athlete goes beyond any logic – they will always be associated with the entity with or without advertising or marketing campaigns.

It’s about the Fairweather Fans – this is where the ‘reach’ matters and this is where innovation and creativity has to come – not just in terms of the content that is being created, but also in terms of the way platforms are being used.

What you, as the sports event organizer, sports team owner or athlete, need to realise is that the next wave of changes are already sweeping the advertising world.

A ride on this train, before others, is what your sports or eSports event needs!

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