Sports marketing is big business. That’s no surprise. What may actually come as surprise, however, is the level of complexity that can be involved in creating and executing the marketing plan of any sports-related entity.
Consider message variations for local versus out-of-market fans. Or how messaging might change as an event gets closer in time. Consider how a team might want to speak to long-time fans versus potential fans, and how that messaging changes as the season progresses. Further, with instant access to all kinds of digital content, news, and stats in real time, fans are available to be marketed to at all different hours and in all different contexts.
Additionally, sports marketing creative departments are faced with a unique challenge: the need to capture the adrenaline and fan mentality. Sports-related creative execution is usually bold, visually rich, and attention-grabbing, which can be tricky to pull off when working in real time. Creatives also are challenged by the need to keep creative campaigns fluid, accessible across all devices, and highly responsive to rapid-fire deadlines, changes, and outcomes in the sports industry—all while staying on budget.
While sports marketing has been generally slow to adopt marketing automation technology, sports marketers are uniquely positioned to take advantage of these very latest advances in digital marketing tactics, including a campaign execution approach we call “programmatic creative.”
Programmatic creative is the automation of the mechanics of digital ad creation. It enables sports marketers to use automation technology to generate, iterate, and optimize creative assets to promote high-touch engagement, regardless of digital strategy or budget.
This kind of automated iteration and delivery of campaign creative is a huge value to every digital marketer, but can be particularly helpful to those in the sports marketing field. To illustrate the point, here is a quick checklist of programmatic creative plays that will drive up the score for any sports marketing team:
1. Spend less on creative development: You want a solution that enables your creative team to be more efficient. Why have them create ads one-by-one into all of the various ad sizes when, with the right tool, you can make one creative and have it generate into the rest of the standard ad sizes? By automating the process of campaign creative iteration, programmatic creative also allows marketers to use the less traditional IAB-recognized ad sizes. The nontraditional sizes are often the higher ROI performers given that they can be purchased at significantly lower CPMs.
2. Leverage “on-the-fly” concept testing: Access to a system that is capable of iterating creative messaging in real time and at scale means that you can quickly judge the effectiveness of many variations for every use case. This kind of programmatic A/B testing will allow you to find the best-performing creative for each specific market and contextual variation, which leads to better conversions and, of course, more sales.
3. Reach the right people at the right time: The best programmatic creative platforms will give you access to quality inventory, often referred to as “premium programmatic,” which guarantees that your ads are placed only on premium publisher sites and alongside top-tier content. You also should make sure that your programmatic creative platform enables you to highly target audience segments. This ability can be particularly useful in the highly geobased world of sports marketing.
4. Update your campaigns in real time: Programmatic creative enables you to not only make changes to your creative within minutes, but to upload the new creative and start running them in your campaigns instantaneously. It is easy to imagine the value of being able to change campaign messaging on a massive scale the moment a team wins a game and advances to the next level of playoffs. Catching a pumped-up fan at the moment he is celebrating a win is pure sports marketing gold.
The digital media landscape has made a real shift toward automation technology. As quickly as this has happened, however, creative teams have largely been forced to sit on the sidelines. A programmatic creative approach helps to level the proverbial playing field and allow creatives to join in the programmatic game.