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NFL Advertising On CTV / Connected TV — How To Reach The Fans

This post is part of our larger “CTV/OTT Sports Advertising Guide,” click here to learn more.

Advertising in the midst of an NFL game has always been considered a premium, perhaps even a fantasy for many marketers. Many dream of running a Super Bowl commercial, but realistically, most will never have the opportunity. With the movement of NFL games to OTT (over-the-top)/CTV (Connected TV) mediums, a version of that dream of seeing your ad in an NFL game can become a reality. It is a smaller slice of the pie, but the quality of the impressions is dramatically higher thanks to the ability to hyper-target your audience, which is more valuable. Your audience is far more specific and your message can be far more tailored.

While NFL executives are planning to start the 2020 season on time, guidelines vary from state to state and team to team. With the amount of uncertainty surrounding this NFL season, we can assume COVID-19 will be limiting fans’ abilities to be in the stands, and at home viewing rates via traditional and streaming methods will be far higher than last year. 

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How can CTVs be strategically leveraged for NFL advertising?

Let’s be honest. For smaller brands and advertising firms, it doesn’t make sense to pool all resources together to score that coveted Super Bowl ad. It’s almost a gamble in some ways, what if your website goes down after that massive spend… Stranger things have happened. This is already one of the biggest advantages of turning to CTV for NFL advertising. Not only is CTV more accessible for smaller budgets over longer periods of time, but it is also targetable, trackable, and even has higher viewability. 

Marketers planning their next NFL advertising campaign should make note of the following:

1. No upfront commitments are required when it comes to CTV advertising with Strategus

It is a delicate time for advertising in general and circumstances change rapidly from week to week. As news updates surface surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, marketers are forced to shift and refocus their campaigns. Given the level of uncertainty and the economic downturn, it is no surprise that a high volume of advertisers are backing out of their upfront commitments. 

This is where the flexibility of OTT/CTV can be tactfully leveraged for NFL advertising. When working with quality partners, marketers can avoid those upfronts while still getting priority placement with their ad campaigns. Our team at Strategus has done the heavy lifting with negotiating premium, curated inventory & deal lDs for zero upfront commitments for our clients. This is a huge win for advertisers who find themselves in positions where they need to pivot quickly at any point.

2. NFL advertising on CTV means higher viewability and non skippable ads

Think about all the individuals who skip out on ads when they record a game through traditional broadcast. Not only does this hurt overall performance, it skews the metrics. This is where NFL advertising on CTV offers a substantial advantage. 

  • The audience is already actively engaged – On CTV, the viewer is already paying attention and tuned in to the content streaming. 
  • There is a higher view rate overall – Due to the nature of how ads are served on CTV, there is a near 100% view-to-completion rate. This means that compared to traditional TV advertising, brand recollection is going to be much higher.
  • The advertising is non-skippable – Because the ad placements on CTV are shorter than commercials on standard television, most streaming services make the ads non-skippable, which increases the chances of maintaining audience attention overall. 

3. Big data allows for hyper-targeting when it comes to NFL advertising on CTV

With programmatic advertising of any type, including CTV, the initial concern that comes up is whether there are high enough impressions since it is a smaller piece of the overall pie. This is where we can lean into the hyper-targeting capabilities of CTV advertising to even out the imbalance. Instead of being limited to targeting generic households, we can significantly narrow down your ideal audience through 6 different filtering methods. 

This is a game-changer (no pun intended) for advertisers who are working with smaller budgets and trying to yield higher ROIs. When we use the term “hyper-target,” we are talking about beyond the standard age, gender, location categories, it goes exponentially further than that. 

Here are some of the hyper-targeting categories: 

  • Behavioral Targeting – targeting audiences based on interests, hobbies, online activities, lifestyle, etc.
  • Contextual Targeting – targeting audiences based on viewing history e.g. sports, comedy, outdoor shows vs. sports, action, thrillers
  • Technographic Targeting – targeting audiences based on device characteristics i.e. hardware, operating system, connection speed, etc.
  • Traditional Geographic Targeting – cities, zip codes, DMA’s, etc. are still alive and well in CTV targeting
  • Real-Time GPS-Based Geographic Targeting – targeting audiences based on their real-time location and where they are streaming the game from and/or where they physically go on a regular basis.
  • Demographic Targeting – targeting audiences based on objective data points i.e. hometown, income, education level, etc.
  • Automatic Content Recognition (ACR) Targeting – targeting audiences based on the program viewing habits on their CTV, this can be what they have historically watched or if they are currently watching a particular program/special (think Super Bowl, Masters, Wimbledon,  etc.) 
  • Purchasing Targeting – targeting audiences based on their historical spending habits and/or large purchase intent (credit-applications). Purchase history can be narrowed down to specific brands in most cases
  • First-Party Data/CRM Activation/Lookalike Audiences – in this targeting scenario, you can take an existing database of past and/or current customers and target just them with a hyper-focused spend. The same applies to taking the ideal customers from your first-party data and doing lookalike audiences to expand reach beyond the existing pool

4. NFL advertising on CTV can be made actionable

Another downside to NFL advertising on traditional broadcast is the inability to make ads actionable. This was a general disadvantage with CTV as well, in its heyday. After all, when streaming digital content (even on a smart TV), the ads aren’t exactly “clickable.” You may be wondering then, how is it that advertising on CTV can be actionable or attributable? OTT/CTV advertising may be new in the realm of advertising, but it is moving and evolving quite rapidly. 

Firms like Strategus, who are innovative pioneers at the forefront of everything that is OTT/CTV have created solutions to address the issue. We created both the Encore Omnichannel and Attribution Suite to give advertisers the ability to deliver retargeted ads (on other devices) to individuals who watched a CTV ad to completion. Furthermore, we can also track what actions those individuals took. This is what is capable through our tools:

  • Post View Attribution – who visited the website after viewing the NFL ad
  • Purchase Attribution – who made a purchase from the brand (including on Amazon) after the ad was served
  • Foot Traffic Attribution – who visited the physical store location of the brand after the ad
  • UPC Attribution – how many of a specific product (via universal purchase code) were purchased by those exposed to 1 or more ads
  • After-Ad Influence (AAI) – Evaluate a user’s online browsing behavior before and after ad exposure
  • Offline Conversion Tracking – Match offline purchase/CRM data to users exposed to NFL advertising 

The Bottom Line

2020 is a unique time for sports advertising. Not only are there special considerations and unrest due to the coronavirus pandemic, but it is also a presidential election year. That has traditionally made things very tricky with political campaigns dominating all the ad spots. For those reasons, it is more important than ever for marketers to lean into CTV for their NFL advertising. 

For any questions on how you can best leverage CTV for your upcoming NFL ad campaign, reach out to our team at Strategus to get our thoughts.

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