LONDON/NEW YORK: The Super Bowl is over and the ads are being assessed, but just advertising at game time is an outdated approach, according to a leading industry figure, who argues that brands need to leverage data to create relevant "game day" content.

Writing in the current issue of Admap, Dan Donnelly, EVP, managing director at Starcom MediaVest Group's SPORTS at SMG in New York, points out that seven-in-ten sports fans are most engaged by pre-game content and rituals, including participation in fantasy sports.

Further, social media channels are expanding their sports offerings to tap into the new age and gender demographics that want sports content on their own terms – at any time, any place and on any device,

Sports fans are inherently social, Donnelly suggests. Indeed, 60% of millennials feel that sport is more about that than anything else.

And with athletes themselves engaging directly with fans on social media, sharing personal stories and views as well as sports material, brands have an opportunity to weave themselves into the conversation in an authentic way.

Donnelly holds up the Samsung-LeBron James relationship as an example of how brands can win in the future. When the basketball player "went dark" on social media before the 2014 NBA playoffs, the smartphone maker created an app to aggregate various content James would typically post in order to keep fans connected.

"An engaging conversation doesn't repeat itself, and marketers need to be prepared to sequence the story," Donnelly noted.

The app highlights another of the seven ways to engage sports fans that Donnelly recommends. He says it is "imperative" that marketers have a mobile strategy that goes beyond game updates and traditional exposure-based advertising.

Live viewing creates opportunities for real-time relevancy, something beer brand Heineken achieved to good effect with #ShareTheSofa, a live show for the second screen hosted by famous ex-players that ran during Champions League Football games.

Other areas sports marketers need to consider include the impact of next-generation technology, the development of eSports and the increasing globalisation of major sports.

Data sourced from Admap