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Mobile is the future of sports marketing

News, 10 February 2016

LONDON/DENVER: US sports fans are using their mobile devices to view huge amounts of content, but marketers have yet to find the best way to take advantage of this trend.

Writing in the current issue of Admap, Ben Reubenstein, President of Possible Mobile in Denver, notes that the current mobile sporting experience can be disappointing. This is despite fans watching 7.1bn minutes of sport on mobile devices in October alone.

"You may have to sit through a 45-second commercial to view a 10-second highlight. Ads are not necessarily native to the platform, content tends to be repetitive, and misfires are common."

Reubenstein argued that this is largely because marketers are failing to understand the particular ways in which viewers consume sports content on mobile devices and continue to regard mobile as a secondary channel where they can just reuse content from elsewhere.

"With sports marketing, as with anything, a UX-first approach always beats a recycled one," he observed.

His advice ranges includes some basic ways in which the mobile experience can be improved for sports fans, such as simply ensuring that any display ads are shown at the correct resolution for today's smartphones. Similarly, anything requiring user input should be made as simple as possible and not just ported over from desktop.

Pre-rolls are frustrating so should be kept as short as possible, while mid-rolls need to offer something special to a sports fan watching live content, the report suggested. And it's important to avoid over-repetition, so it may be worth creating multiple videos that tell a story over time.

Brands can also create content that contributes to the community around sports, Reubenstein said. And while that can be tricky where rights issues are involved, it is quite possible if one looks for stories around, say, the development of a particular player or team.

Since watching and playing sports are ultimately emotional activities, content should aim to engage with fans' feelings, he advises.

But perhaps the most involved and rewarding way a brand can approach mobile sports marketing is through the sponsorship of additive features to the many apps created by leagues, teams and events.

"If you help sponsor a great feature, users will be excited to have added functionality, rather than just another distraction," Reubenstein stated. And this is an area he expected to become a big part of mobile marketing in the future.

Data sourced from Admap