NEW BRUNSWICK: Sports fans should be a key target audience for US advertisers, as they engage in large numbers of brand-related conversations, research from the Keller Fay Group has found.

Figures from the consultancy's Talk Track service, which is based on regular interviews with more than 36,000 panellists, showed that sports fans participate in 74 discussions about specific products each week.

This total is 33% higher than that for the "normal" consumer, with the media, entertainment, food, beverages, retail and automotive sectors proving especially popular.

More specifically, 52% of this group agreed their discussions about goods and services increase their intent to purchase the item in question.

According to Keller Fay, people who are interested in sports are also 66% more likely to be a "word of mouth influencer" than the average American.

This role is most pronounced, unsurprisingly, in the sport and recreation segment, but it also extends across markets including travel, finance and automotive.

Previously, research conducted by the company with ESPN found that advertisers featuring in NFL games last season were the subject of some 3 billion more word-of-mouth conversations among men than among people not watching these contests.

Similarly, brands featuring in spots during the 2008 Super Bowl saw their WOM levels rise by 16% each day, or by 119 million "mentions a week", a trend that was particularly pronounced among teenagers, young adults and male viewers.

Looking forward, it was suggested that enthusiasts regarding the Winter Olympics, soon to be held in Vancouver, are twice as likely as to qualify as an "influencer" than the norm.

They also have 74 product-specific interactions each week, with 25% of these "brand mentions" directly resulting from advertising.

Ed Keller, ceo of the consultancy, argued "sports are a natural environment for generating word of mouth for brands.

"Fans tend to be influencers and engaged in brand WOM."

Data sourced from Media Biz; additional content by Warc staff