SINGAPORE/MUMBAI: Indian cricket fans are way out in front of other countries when it comes to mobile search, offering marketers a wealth of real-time opportunities to reach consumers during the course of games.

Internet giant Google tracked search trends during two ICC World Cup games between fierce rivals. For the England-Australia match, almost half (46%) of Australian searches related to the World Cup came from mobile. But for the India-Pakistan game, 78% of Indian fans' searches came from mobile, specifically smartphones.

And while fans clearly wanted to know details like the latest score, they were also interested in other areas, some more obvious than others.

For example, Google noted a correlation between searches for cricket and searches for pizza in Australia, while Indian fans have been intrigued by hair – searches for Virat Kohli's hairstyle have increased by 15 times since the start of the World Cup.

Google advised that marketers targeting sporting events start with mobile and design for mobile rather than simply downsizing desktop creative, and use real-time marketing tools powered by programmatic technologies to surprise consumers "in the moment".

There is, it suggested, a huge opportunity to reach people before, during and after the game rather than "waiting for a break in play to get a word in".

TV advertisers may face that particular restriction but the fact that 576m people in India watched the World Cup's group games – making it the most watched television event in the country – will no doubt have softened the blow.

With India exiting the tournament at the semi-final stage, however, there will be some disappointment that yesterday's final between Australia and New Zealand will not have attracted the hoped-for number of viewers.

But as Navin Khemka, managing partner (north and east region) at media agency Maxus, observed: "Any advertiser who had bought into the World Cup would have obviously factored in the risk of India not playing the finals."

Most disappointed will be the broadcaster, as "additional one-off advertisers, who had planned to buy on Star for the finals despite steep rates, will not do so now".

Data sourced from Google, Economic Times; additional content by Warc staff