Pitch CMO Summit: What role does big data play in sports marketing?

Gaurav Nijhawan, Shankar Iyer, Snehil Gautam, Yannick Colaco and Jai Lala discussed the partnership between data and sports at the conference

e4m by exchange4media Staff
Published: Jun 30, 2022 11:17 AM  | 7 min read
Pitch CMO Summit

At the Delhi edition of e4m’s Pitch CMO Summit 2022, a power-packed panel discussed the topic ‘Data & Sports – A Winning Partnership for Fans & Brands’ to understand the role of big data in sports marketing.

While the session was chaired by Jai Lala, CEO, Zenith India, the panellists were Gaurav Nijhawan, Vice President - Marketing & Brand and Communication, Stashfin; Shankar Iyer, Associate Director, Category Marketing, Perfetti Van Melle India; Snehil Gautam, CMO, Housing.com, PropTiger.com & Makaan.com and Yannick Colaco, Co-Founder, FanCode.

Kickstarting the session, Lala said, “Sports has been quite a game-changer, not only in India but across the globe. And when it comes to marketing, it's a challenge in terms of when you look at content and sports because sports evokes a lot more emotions and feelings. There are fanatics who follow the game and given all these elements which sports brings in, also now with the tech which is getting evolved and the data that gets produced, it's a great combo to have.”

Sharing more insights, Nijhawan said he believes if sports and big data get married to each other, it'll be truly engaging for the customer and be really meaningful for the brand as well. “In the past, technology has been really enabling and disrupting the way we see a lot of things. It could be around telecommunication, it could be around FinTech, it could be around the way events have been happening or even the sports as well. So when I think about sports and how technology has really driven growth, sports have always been there whatever the finest technology was present in any era. Even the most innovative technology that was present, sports was always part of it. Now, there's a team of OTT players with the advent of 4G and 5G technology. Hence, it is obvious that technology will play a big role in sports as well. And in trying to figure out how do we enjoy the most from a sports perspective? Now the big data bit comes here. From a brand perspective, big data is really something that will add real meaning to a brand to understand what the customer is all about.”

Gautam spoke on why cricket still remained a high-impact program for Housing.com. “The reality is that cricket is huge in India, and it still remains very huge. You take TRP data or ratings data or if you look at your core TG, it's true for most of the sectors. If you ask whether your core TG is watching cricket or not, mostly the answer is yes. And that's why cricket is such a big business. I think the next big sport that has originated in India is kabaddi. If you look at ratings, it's again quite good. But compared to cricket it is still small. Football and tennis are still very niche sports so far in India. But if you ask me as an advertiser, cricket will always remain a very high-impact program for us. Football and tennis are niche programs for some cohorts of our customers. Advertising on those programs makes lots of sense. And it doesn't require lots of money to advertise on that and ROI is much better in terms of getting to the right and high intent users, getting to the HNI users. So those sports are still sustenance and a high intent targeting program for us.”

Speaking about the shift of sports consumption from Television to Digital, Colaco shared, “If you look at live sports, one of the most prominent and fastest-growing mediums for broadcasters is digital right now. And it does two very important things, which is the fundamental reason why sports is so much more important to marketers. In any other content, the user normally has affiliation, they want a player to win, they want a team to win, they want a player to do well. And because of that our users or the viewer is very engaged in that. So when you start looking at digital, what the transfer of sports consumption from television to digital does is it allows you to watch what you want whenever you want. 

You're not restricted by linear. In linear television, if you had five channels at one point of time, you could only show five sports events. Now even at FanCode, we show at some point about 25 sports events at the same time. So as a user, you're able to choose what you want. So I think that really has added a lot of advantages to sports users or sports fans. And the other big thing, which is essentially moving the migration of consumption from traditional broadcast to digital, is that honestly, sports consumption or sports fans are more than passive viewers. It's not just about sitting back and watching a game. It's about being able to talk to friends whether virtually or in real life. It's about being able to interact with stats, it's about choosing, it can be a lot more immersive and digital.”

Elaborating on the media mix used by Perfetti Van Melle India in terms of sports marketing, Iyer shares, “For us physical availability is important but more so is mental availability and that's where big data still comes in versus TV, wherein we are able to capture the immersive experience that the consumer has when he consumes sports watching on mobile or on Digital. For us, it's very clear that whenever we do any advertisement, it's a combination of TV plus Digital, and that is where OTT and VOD as a platform is predominant for us. So youth is again a big segment for us and in order to capture this 18 to 24 - 18 to 30-year-olds, the best part is to go on Digital, the right platforms, so be it a Disney Hotstar or YouTube or any sports streaming website for example. And to us what it has done is given us that mental availability which otherwise is not there on TV Here you have the measurement, which is very clear, you can measure BLS, there is a data available, there is targeting that you can do, it's very segmented plus the kinds of creatives that we do. 

“So our brands are about fun and variability. And we recently did some great creatives with a tennis ball-shaped cup. What we did is we advertised it during the IPL, interestingly, because we made cohorts of consumers who like cricket as well as tennis in geographies where we had launched it. So this kind of segmenting and profiling, I think that otherwise couldn’t have happened. And also the kinds of creatives that you do, Digital gives you that opportunity to do shorter creatives of 10 seconds or 15 seconds, because that's the kind of attention span people have and they are positively disposed as well because you meet creators which render itself well to the kind of sports that you target. So for us, it's very important. And over the period of years, the last two or three years what we've seen is a digital through sports marketing, giving us incrementality in reach, reaching the right audience and in the right geographies. So for us, it's a great medium and I'm sure we keep continuing to invest in that as well,” he added. 

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