3 Tips for a High-Scoring March Madness Advertising Strategy

CBS and Turner Sports may have already sold out of the linear TV inventory for the tournament in record time, but that doesn’t mean you can’t capitalize on the biggest sports media event of the spring. A Nielsen cross-platform study found that in 2019, over 175 million fans engaged with the tournament across all networks and platforms. Depending on the week, that coveted linear TV inventory is costing advertisers a whopping $825,000 to $2 million per 30-second spot! In 2019, ad measurement firm iSpot.tv estimated that $933 million of ad revenue was generated over the course of the tournament. Linear TV is not the only way to reach the millions of fans who tune in to the games. And with many of the numerous games taking place during the workday, streaming allows fans to tune in using the device of their choice. In fact, fewer than a quarter (23%) of respondents ages 18+ cited TV as the way they would follow NCAA March Madness according to a  YouGov March Madness survey. The next largest group (17%) stated they would follow news about the games through social media, TV, etc., 16% said they would check the scores online and another 8% said they would stream the games online. The 2020 NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Tournament is scheduled to tip off on St. Patrick’s Day this year, leaving just a few short weeks to prep your alternate media strategies. Here are 3 tips to get in front of the approximately 10.5 million eyeballs: 1. Beat the Competition With Advanced TV Linear TV inventory may already be sold out, but that doesn’t mean you can’t reach the 92.1 million non-pay TV viewers during the tournament. Several streaming services are providing access to some or all the games, including Hulu Live TV, Sling TV, Fubo TV and YouTube TV. Moreover, advanced TV offers multiple benefits including precise targeting, detailed measurement, price discovery and automated buying to name a few. 2. Slam Dunk on Social Media Social platforms have evolved into entertainment hubs, with consumers now using them for purposeful activities around specific content they choose to consume. Referring to sports specifically, between 2016 and 2019, the percentage of people who said their main reason for using social media was to watch or follow sports events grew 47%. Additionally, Hitwise data shows that in the month of March, total visits to social networking sites for March Madness Enthusiasts is 341% higher than average. The number of unique users and the amount of time spent on social sites also show drastic increases during the month of March. Social advertising during March Madness allows brands to reach a large number of engaged users. 3. Don’t Take Time-Outs From Display Advertising Social networks aren’t the only sites experiencing increases in users and engagement during March Madness. As fans aim to catch the highlights or check the game scores they may have missed, advertisers have the ability to reach them in the moment with contextual and site targeting. Be sure to include smartphones and tablets in your strategies – users will be accessing content through multiple devices throughout the tournament so deploying a cross-platform strategy is a surefire way to be the MVP. Regardless of how your basketball bracket nets out this season, you can still take home a winner. Contact us to talk more about your March Madness advertising plans and how we can help.