This is a guest post by Mark Middlemas, Director of Communications, Northern Europe, RadiumOne

There are three particular characteristics of the way that fans of the upcoming European Football Championships intend to consume its content that provide a veritable goldmine for marketers to exploit. These are the huge amount of second-screening that will go on during TV broadcasts and the increase in the amount of football-related content being shared online and through what channels this will be done.

The "second-screen-fest"

Two-thirds of UK fans planning to watch Euro 2016 live on TV will use an internet-connected device at the same time. Smartphones will be the most popular device among second-screeners (73%) for doing so followed by laptops (64%) and tablets (60%).

So what will they be doing on these second-screens? Well, reading online comments or using online chat/IM about the match they're watching (both 28%) will be the most popular activity. Around one quarter will chat on the phone or post up social media comments about what's on. Around one in five second-screeners will search online for information relating to the match or search for related videos.

Thus, Euro 2016 provides brands a sustained series of 'moment marketing' opportunities if they can connect second-screen usage to key moments, be it goals, scores or dodgy refereeing decisions. Ads, for example, can be synced with these moments and delivered to multiple connected devices with a similar profile to the TV audience. It's about using technology to take a TV moment and extend the audience reach of the ad in real-time for better engagement and ROI.

In addition, brands sponsoring players or teams can make sure online ads are served when their game is broadcast – either live or during highlights shows – to reinforce the message. 

Online sharing behaviour set to rocket

Not surprisingly, sharing of football-related content will increase dramatically throughout the tournament. Six-in-ten Euro 2016 fans will share Euro 2016-related content online, of which two-thirds say they'll share more football-related content as a result of it. Four-in-ten sharers say they'll do so at least 3-4 times every day during the tournament.

Match scores will be the most popular Euro 2016 content shared online (by 53% of sharers), followed by goals (47%), pictures and news stories (both 42%). Questionable refereeing decisions will be shared by 41%.

This explosion in sharing football-related content online is a potential goldmine for marketers as it indicates a strong degree of real-time intent that can be used to enhance real-time campaigns, particularly programmatically. For example, questionable refereeing decisions will be heavily shared and tailor-made for a brand associated with eyesight, such as Specsavers, or decision-making, such as online take-away platforms like Just Eat and Hungry House, who could identify people interacting with this type of content and send them related messaging.

Lighting up the 'dark'

Getting on for 90% of sharers will share content in 'dark social' – that is, outside of social networks on email, instant messenger and forums (formats that can't be measured by web analytics) – whilst nearly four-in-ten will only share Euro 2016 content this way.

The best way for brands and publishers to unlock the power of 'dark social' is via sharing widgets around articles. They can be anything from URL link shorteners to a simple button linking to a Facebook or Twitter page or something enabling site visitors to comment, tweet, like, share and bookmark content across a wide variety of platforms.

For example, the Jockey Club, who own many leading UK race courses, were able to identify 3.5m people who'd interacted with their site content at least five times across the web over a 90-day period – just through a URL link-shortener. It subsequently targeted this audience as being potentially 'interested in The Cheltenham Festival' and saw a remarkable 12-1 ROI on ticket sales.

So don't remain in the dark when it comes to Euro 2016, make sure your team formation is in place to harness second-screening and online sharing and you'll knock your brand competitors out.

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