LONDON: Almost one fifth of all ads shown on ITV during FIFA World Cup games were for gambling brands according to a new analysis which shows that betting ads had more screen time than alcohol and fast food commercials combined.

Research conducted by The University of Sheffield, Box of Broadcasts and The Guardian, covering all games on ITV up to and including the semi-finals, found 172 betting spots in a total of 1,300 ads across 30 games.

This, it said, amounted to almost an entire game at 88 minutes in total – 17% of World Cup ad breaks – or around one minute in every six.

That put the betting category far ahead of the next three in terms of screen time, with motoring coming in at 68 minutes, followed by grooming (39 minutes) and mobile phone networks (37 minutes); alcohol was in fourth place on 35 minutes.

Altogether bookmakers and online casinos claimed one and a half times as much screen time as alcohol brands and more than four times as much as fast food brands (19 minutes).

Advertisers paid as much as £350,000 for a 30-second spot as they took advantage of an exemption that permits them to screen betting ads during live games – otherwise they are restricted to running them after the 9pm watershed.

But this flood of ads has raised concerns among campaigners who said that children and vulnerable people were being needlessly exposed.

“In the absence of evidence, the concern is that this is an adult activity and young people are growing up with it being normalised,” said Marc Etches, chief executive of GambleAware.

“For young people growing up there just seems to be a stronger and stronger affiliation between the two [gambling and sport] and I’m wary of that.”

Away from the mainstream media, gambling brands have also been exploring opportunities in the so-called “new football” – fan channels that attract significant audiences and connect with fans in ways traditional media either doesn’t or can’t.

Ladbrokes, for example, has backed Ball Street Network and expects to generate at least 300 million views over the course of a season along with high levels of engagement. (For more, read WARC’s report: At the tipping point of disruption: opportunities for brands in the new football.)

Sourced from The Guardian; additional content by WARC staff