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Why Russia 2018 is poised to be the World Cup of Mobile

From now till 15 July, almost half of the world’s population – spanning all demographics, age groups, genders, political persuasions and income brackets – will divert its attention to 32 football teams duking it out across venues in Russia.

And while the prevailing digital marketing trend of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil was social media, the upcoming tournament in Russia is set to be the World Cup of Mobile – and it’s not hard to see why.

Since Brazil 2014, Internet penetration has grown from 42.3 per cent to 54.5 per cent, with mobile now making up for 73 per cent of total internet consumption. In 2017, the average user spent nearly 3 hours a day using apps.

With mobile offering an unrivalled direct and intimate platform for marketers to reach their audience, it’s inevitable that we’ll see marketers battling it out on the sidelines, trying to outwit each other’s creativity in planning and executing campaigns.

During the process, marketers are bound to come across a series of challenges in their attempt to leverage on mobile marketing. While similarities to social media marketing prevail, the wider palette of tactics available within mobile marketing might be daunting.

To help marketers navigate the space of mobile marketing for the World Cup, App Annie partnered with Headway to break down the ways in which marketers can leverage on the world cup.

But before we go into the details, let’s zoom in on the different factors which have brought mobile to the forefront of sports marketing.

Mobile and sports marketing: A match made in heaven
Tentpole events are particularly suited to mobile app targeting, as sports fans are typically never far from their mobile devices, and a large portion of content related to the tournament will be consumed on a mobile device.

According to a Google Sports Survey, 30 per cent of fans stream sporting events on their mobile devices because it allows them to watch games and events on their own terms and at their own time.

On top of this, mobile usage is high even amongst the other 70 per cent, for it satisfies the cravings of sports fans for a more “immersive” experience during games. The Google survey also shares that 80 per cent of sports spectators use their tablets and smartphones to search for player stats and to replay videos of key plays, a phenomenon known as “second screening.”

While the imperative of mobile advertising is clear enough to see, its granular nature would mean that marketers would have a good understanding of where to invest their resources in, as well as what tactics to deploy.

Leverage on video advertising to capture second screen audience
With football matches played over two 45-minute halves, there is less time for traditional commercials. This means video advertisements targeting second screens will allow advertisers to capture mindshare of the audience, even without large budgets.

Additionally, with food delivery and ride sharing apps (on top of video streaming) bound to have the highest spikes in usage during the World Cup, marketers would do well to target leverage on these mediums for video ads.

Mobile apps support a wide range of ad units and creatives, and many will offer premium packages to brands, including video sponsorship of replays and native ads that are embedded with content about players.

Capitalise on World Cup Moments
The World Cup creates heroes and villains, memes and headlines. Think of Paul the Octopus predicting match scores in South Africa, or Luis Suarez biting Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini in Brazil.

These moments create a huge opportunity to grow their businesses purely by making their presence felt – showing the audience that the brand is in on the action, ready to provide a service to them. Businesses such as gaming, utilities or retail e-commerce have a fantastic opportunity to engage users by weaving in their advertising messages into World Cup moments, which could drive discussion and usage, and in turn, loyalty even beyond the World Cup.

Earn visibility based on keyword spikes
Targeting a World Cup mobile app campaign based on keywords will go a long way in ensuring the target audience will actually see a brand’s ads. App Store Optimization (ASO) could be used to track which words historically have seen a boost in search volume – meaning more people are searching for that term in the app stores. As App Annie’s ASO Playbook points out, “Your keyword strategy should neither exist in a vacuum nor be static — it must be fluid and continuous” in order to stay relevant with the customers.

Smart use of data
Marketers should build dynamic campaigns that adapt based on data elements such as device, timezone, interest and tournament data. Mobile offers a powerful combination of targeting via location data and mobile app usage, allowing you to deliver creative and engaging messages based on what the user is doing and where he or she is engaging with a mobile app

Audience Planning – or the practice of using programmatic media buying capabilities to target, optimize and deliver messages adapted to each user’s situation, is a powerful tool, especially with matches being watched by audiences in different timezones.

Without a doubt, the sheer penetration of mobile usage amongst sports spectators, coupled with the level of immersion of the audience, makes mobile a winner when it comes to marketing during a tentpole sporting event. By targeting the right channels and with the right strategies, brands can leverage on the rewards of the World Cup buzz, even months upon its conclusion.

Jaede Tan

Jaede Tan is the Regional Director at App Annie and drives business development and sales efforts across Australasia, India and Southeast Asia.