The World Cup’s Gone Mobile

Every four years sports fans around the world unite to watch the World Cup, an exhibition of both patriotism and skill. But four years ago, watching it was a very different scene. In the past, the primary medium for following the matches was indisputably TV. Now, TV has a formidable opponent.


We know that mobile usage, publishing, and advertising is escalating. So too is the practice of engaging with mobile media for a sporting event. Leading up to the World Cup, the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) polled sports enthusiasts in 11 global markets and found that 48 percent planned to use their phones to follow the event, compared with 68 percent who expected to watch on TV. There was good news for advertisers in the report: 37 percent of surveyed consumers said they were already “positively interacting with mobile ads” daily, while 50 percent of self-proclaimed “football fanatics” were likely to engage with mobile ads once a day as well.

Additional research shows that consumers are willing to pay for mobile content related to the World Cup, with 67 percent of Americans revealing as much to the IAB earlier this year. According to an infographic compiled by mobile video advertising company Vdopia, consumers are using mobile in relation to the World Cup to obtain information (55 percent), access content (45 percent), engage in social media activities (39 percent), and complete transactions (29 percent). “It is hard to imagine a global event in the future where mobile will not be a huge factor,” says Saurabh Bhatia, co-founder and chief business officer of Vdopia.


Where does that leave advertisers? What can they do to leverage this trend? Not surprisingly, consumers are most attracted to ads that amuse them. The IAB reports that 33 percent of mobile users prioritized ad creative that’s “fun and entertaining,” while 17 percent said the relevance of the product was the most important ad trait. In mobile, as in video, storytelling resonates with viewers. By mid June views of World Cup ads on YouTube were double those of this year’s Super Bowl spots online.

One of the most popular videos, currently sitting at more than 85 million YouTube views, belongs to Nike and its “Risk Everything” campaign. More online film than commercial spot, the video runs four minutes long and tells the story of two opposing soccer teams and a typical game that transforms into a grandiose collective fantasy on a World Cup scale.

Forbes reported earlier this month that Nike’s World Cup campaign has generated some 22 million digital engagements and 6 billion impressions, a third of which occurred on mobile devices. It is, in fact, the brand’s “most mobile and social” effort to date. Beyond the video, Nike demonstrated further dedication to mobile by investing in a soccer-themed mobile app, which launched this week. It includes soccer content, a social element, and of course, information on Nike’s soccer gear. Odds are good it will prove popular among consumers who want to get closer to World Cup fever in whatever way they can. Yet again, they’ll be putting mobile first.

There’s no telling which country will come out ahead when the next World Cup takes place four years from now. But there’s an excellent chance that the winning medium for engaging with it will be mobile.

Homepage image via Shutterstock.

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