Live sporting events are powerful opportunities for brands to engage with fans online. With people scouring the web for game scores, live updates, reviews, previews, and everything in between, there is a plethora of opportunities to engage them with a relevant message in the right moment, argues Grapeshot's Josh Baines.

Let’s take the recent Winter Olympics as the perfect example. This year’s games were viewed by approximately three billion people–many of whom tuned in and followed the action through digital channels. With the amount content published globally for the Games, advertisers had every opportunity to find their relevant audiences and deliver value.

However, we can’t deny that the unpredictability of live sport can be a headache for brands. Controversies and sport are inextricably linked and advertisers must accept that before diving into any activation. In addition, sport’s unpredictability adds confusion to campaign planning and can impact targeting precision.

Enter predictive contextual targeting and advertisers have a means to take back control and maximise their live sport campaigns. Predictive targeting analyses content from millions of online sources in real-time to identify the trending themes and emerging audiences that are engaging around them. Armed with this insight, advertisers are able to get in front of new audiences and deliver a message that’s relevant.

With this in mind, here’s how to ensure your predictive targeting strategy has the best chance of succeeding at your next live event.

Choose your live event wisely
It’s tempting to view every live event in the calendar as an opportunity to drive value; however, it is important for brands to think critically about each event and why it’s a good opportunity to activate. It’s not simply about just reaching mass audiences, but ensuring the activation with relevant, in-the-moment content that sports fans will connect to.

Be willing to adapt
Brands must be as flexible as possible if they really want to own the moment. This means being able to tweak their advertising at short notice. Consumer interest changes fast, especially during sporting events so brands need to be prepared to evolve with the conversation as it happens.

Expect the unexpected
When it comes to live sport, it’s impossible to predict what is going to happen. Often the moments people are talking about the most are those you would least expect. In the 2016 Rio Olympics for example, few foresaw the popularity of Team Refugee.

By remaining flexible and focused, brands who prepare for the unpredictable will have the edge over their competitors.

Prepare now for the FIFA World Cup
The next major sporting event on the calendar is the FIFA World Cup, and given it’s only a few months away, now is the perfect time for advertisers to start planning their predictive targeting strategy. Get ahead of the action and make the most of the live action with predictive targeting.