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A Social Generation Comes of Age at the World Cup

  |  July 4, 2014   |  Comments

This year's World Cup showed the confluence of the Internet and the real world and the impact that access and live action can have on people.

On the surface, little has changed for the U.S. men's national team at the World Cup in the past four years. In 2010, it was Ghana eliminating the Americans in extra time during the round of 16. This time it was Belgium delivering heartbreak at the same stage - again in extra time. No measurable difference, short of moral victories, to show in the final results.

And yet, so much has changed. Whether it is the marketing, the time zone difference between South Africa (the host country in 2010) and Brazil, or the natural evolution of a hungry fan base, this World Cup is a massive victory for everyone.

ESPN set records with nearly 2 million concurrent streams of the U.S. match versus Germany, which closed the group stage of the tournament. Marketers, both associated with FIFA and not, used social media and video networks to promote branded content around the event. And like every TV-driven event, Facebook and Twitter drove millions of interactions. In fact, the World Cup has already become the most talked-about event in Facebook's history, with 1 billion interactions and counting.

But it wasn't just online where the movement showed itself. For the match against Belgium, tens of thousands of U.S. fans packed Soldier Field in Chicago and "JerryWorld" in North Texas to watch.

This confluence of the Internet and the real world suggests that, while society continues to consume increasing amounts of media, there is a transferal taking place. Soccer's popularity in the U.S. has grown. In an age where live is the thing, the access to soccer, regardless of whether it is the Premier League, La Liga, or MLS, means more real-time content for consumers.

So, people have access and extended experiences created through apps. And now they want to share the experience. The viewing parties in the U.S. were as big as many held in soccer-crazed parts of Europe or South America. The social movement of the Web is returning to social experiences in person. People want to be with likeminded people and the World Cup enables that.

For team USA, the World Cup is over. A win against Ghana, a draw at the death versus Portugal, and two hard-fought defeats to Germany and Belgium. Four points, qualification, and then dismissal as one of the 16 best in the world, but no more.

Yet, what they proved is the power of sport, the impact of social gatherings - online and off - and the impact that access and live action can have on people. And that, someday, maybe even four years from now in Russia, will be the lasting U.S. legacy of this World Cup.

Image via Shutterstock.

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Chris Copeland

Chris Copeland is chief executive officer of GroupM Next, the forward-looking, media innovation unit of GroupM. Chris is responsible for curating and communicating insight-focused media solutions across established and emerging platforms. Leveraging his multi-year experience with emerging media companies, Chris is tasked with stewarding GroupM Next in partnership with agency leadership from GroupM's four media marketing and marketing service agencies (Maxus, MEC, MediaCom, and Mindshare).

Guiding the Predictive Insights, Technology, Education, Research, and Communications teams at GroupM Next, Chris is responsible for overseeing the amplification of insights into opportunities that directly benefit the business of GroupM agencies and their clients. GroupM is the world's largest media investment management group and the media holding arm of WPP.

Chris was selected to lead GroupM Next after nine years of leading the search marketing practice within GroupM. Among his accomplishments include the development and integration of the global search marketing offering for GroupM agencies, GroupM Search, which manages $1.3 billion in search billings globally and has grown to more than 1,000 search marketing strategists serving 40 countries.

Chris is an active member on advisory boards at the 4A's, Google, Yahoo, MSN, and I-COM. He is a frequent speaker in global forums discussing the digital marketplace, and contributes editorial commentary regularly to Advertising Age, ClickZ, MediaPost, and MediaBizBloggers.com.

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