e4m webinar: 'Brands will invest in advertising on sports, live or not'

In an e4m webinar series, sports industry experts discuss the impact of COVID-19 on live sports and how communities can be created through sporting events

e4m by exchange4media Staff
Updated: Jun 5, 2020 9:07 AM
e4m webinar series: 'Building Communities Through Sports Post COVID-19'

This Thursday an intriguing virtual panel discussion on the facets of live sporting events was conducted. The vibrant sports ecosystem has come to a halt due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Sports Broadcasters and Leagues are looking at innovative technologies to engage with fans and keep the sporting spirit alive.

The virtual panel discussion highlighted a potent topic: ‘Building Communities Through Sports Post COVID-19.’ The panellists for the webinar session were Amit Tiwari, VP Marketing, Havells, Vinit Karnik, Business Head - Entertainment, Sports & Live Events, GroupM, Jatin Paranjape, CEO & Founder, KheloMore and Satish Menon, CEO, Kings XI Punjab. The Session Chair for this virtual panel discussion was Nawal Ahuja, Co-Founder & Director, exchange4media.

According to a report by GroupM, IPL in 2019 had a huge reach of 40 crore touching the TV viewership. One of the key reasons sports events thrive is due to their fans. Starting off the virtual discussion, Karnik shared how one can keep their fans engaged during this time saying, “The learning that we have from the COVID period from a fan engagement point is that in times like these, non-live content becomes an important part. For the last couple of years, I have been actively talking about India taking the center stage and creating some very interesting ideas around non-live content. I’m sure a lot of production and sporting communities must have thought about this in the time that they have got. We have seen the show NBA launched and the fan following it garnered on social media. If these kinds of shows are developed in the Indian ecosystem that could have come handy at this point in time. This is not only relevant for cricket but actually relevant for the emerging sports economy in terms of developing the sport at the back of non-live content. This will create national heroes through non-live initiatives and make them relevant in the offseason.”

Menon remarked, “For the large part it is digital media that is playing a large part. We actually engage with most of our players. We take our key players and create fan interactions. We have an average of 3-4 posts a day going out virtually. There is not much you can do beyond this. There is nothing that matches live content. The key to any match is about the contest and the result. End of the day, once the result is out the interest level is only that much. To that extent, we are all looking forwards to having live games. The only thing we can do is actually be in a build-up towards that.” Brands also invest in sporting events to have continuity of engagement of fans, Tiwari commenting on what brands are doing do build engagement during this time said, “Consumer behaviour has actually changed in the last two and a half months. The fundamental change that has happened is that the consumer is actually redefining everything. Every consumer is trying to redefine what is the means of entertainment or engagement for them. Indoor is the new Outdoor. Everybody is looking for engagement either on-ground or on-air. It is about building experience and interacting. Brands will still invest in advertising primarily on sports irrespective of it being live or not. Ideate what is the level of experience and engagement you are actually trying. Close to 50% of people have engaged in the last two months in all the gaming content which is available across platforms.”

Karnik said that the good news is we are seeing things opening up. He added, “Even if we see IPL opening up without an audience, it’s still okay as I don't think advertisers give more than 20% weightage to the ground.”

Talking about how COVID will create an impact on the economic front for sports, Tiwari stated, “We need to see if brands really have the money even if IPL starts in September. Everyone wants to keep the cash and save it for the future. Performance marketing is going to be the key aspect for the next 8-10 months. Any money spent needs to be calibrated into something meaningful.”

Menon sharing his views on the economy front says, “IPL is one of the best platforms to be in. Every brand has its own time frame and every category has its own space. Even in a dull market, every brand needs to make a place. Brands in FMCG have been doing very well. You could see sponsorships coming from them now because they have a lot to compete for in that market. It’s going to be a very different market to attract the consumer. I don't see a sports-related worry in the future because sports give an identity and everyone wants to be associated with it.”

Paranjape citied a couple of action points that should be taken at this time, he shared, “If I put myself in the shoes of a sports federation, Certifications and training programs should be covered. I will look at technology to manage operations. Technology is going to be a part of your coaching portfolio. In the case of a cricket academy, the physical aspect will be of 2 days, and rest 3 days of learning will be virtual. Marketing automation and backend will be used to retain consumers. Leveraging tech and digital will become key aspects going forward.”

Finally, sharing the change that they would like to see in the Sports ecosystems, Karnik shared, “I would like to see more revenue models. Looking at the European or North American systems, I would think about making more revenue models on Digital and Tech. I would look at an ROI-driven approach and pushing the envelope by talking in board rooms on how a particular sponsorship with detailed analytics will help the advertiser justify the money they have spent.”

Tiwari expressing his views commented, “More than impact, we need to look at the interaction the activity brought. We also need to look at the affordability metrics and justify the money we have spent. It'll be tried and tested on every property.”

“From the supply side, education of coaches, and standardization of delivery thereby increasing the funnel. Sport custodians and govt can play a big role in giving these aspects a good shape", remarked Paranjape.

Menon signed off saying, “Unlike any other country, sponsorship plays a very important role here. There should be a model to be able to weigh the pros of sponsorship and how the association rubs off on the brand in a manner in which it benefits it. Going forward, I would like to see that we are allowed to build more on digital and get more access to content. Content is going to be a huge part. We carry these assets with us and those are the guys who make you stick to the game. If we're given an opportunity to use some more content to the benefit of our sponsors it will help a lot.”

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