The just ended 19th Pan African Media Research Conference, organized by PAMRO was in Lagos, Nigeria. This 2 day annual conference presents an opportunity for audience research stakeholders in the African continent to engage, explore and share new learnings and developments in audience measurement.

The theme of the 2018 PAMRO conference was ‘A billion Africans, the Billion Dollar Media Question: Media Data and Analytics for Change’. Conference speakers presented research papers to an audience comprising researchers, marketers, media agencies and media owners.

Some seven 2018 FiFA World Cup brand communication Lessons

Playing the advantage - World Cup brand communication lessons
                      Playing the advantage – World Cup brand communication lessons

We have been an ardent supporter of the PAMRO conferences since 2014 and this year, we were happy to attend and be one of the main sponsors. This year was a world cup year- the world’s most popular sport. Based on bespoke research we ran on the 2018 World Cup in 6 African countries coupled with our overnight media measurement service, we had some lessons to share on how brand owners can play the advantage in engaging an active audience during a global sporting event such as the FIFA World Cup.

Big sporting events, big audiences

Although it’s a no-brainer that big sporting events translate to big audiences which in turn can mean a big return on advertising spend, it’s not always that straightforward. It however gets more complicated when you need to make sure that your brand stands apart from all other brands which are equally trying to achieve the same objective at the same time with the same audiences. Woe unto you if their marketing budget is much

The red or the blue pill: What will be your breakthrough option

In order to break through during such a global sporting event, there will be two options; will you outspend your competition and hope your brand and creative are strong enough to go head to head with the big guns or will you formulate a more strategic game plan based on brand strengths (yours and that of your competitor) and unfolding events. This is where we come in to provide you with daily audience measurement or consumer insights to iterate your game plan based on how your target audience is reacting to your communication. During the 2018 World Cup season, we conducted almost one hundred interviews in Nigeria alone generating over half a million data points.

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Keep your eye on the clock     

 Plan activities around the games most convenient in your specific time zone. In Nigeria, the matches with the highest audiences (other than the ones featuring the local team) were the ones that fit best into people’s busy lives. In general, the first-weekday match of the day during the World Cup kicked off at 4 pm Nigeria time, making it more difficult for many people to watch the game live. Evening and weekend games did better…

Anticipate deflections   

Bear in mind that global events like the world cup attract atypical audiences and strategy must reflect this. Almost 50% of the audience for Nigeria vs Iceland game was female, in fact throughout the whole tournament female viewing was strong. Ahmed Musa caught the eye of many female fans making him the man of the day. Players that make a name for themselves (for any reason) can carry audiences into club/league tournaments after the World Cup is over

Consider the whole team, not just star players       

Spectatorship is a team sport and so groups, not individuals must be strategized for. Watching sport is a social activity, our survey during the World Cup found that nobody watches sports alone, most said they either watched with friends, family or with colleagues. It doesn’t make sense to strategize as if the viewer is alone in a quiet room with their TV.

Prepare for an away game     

Football is not just a team sport but an away game for many. A third of the audience for the Super Eagles’ win over Iceland watched it outside their home. Although the size of the out of home TV audiences for sports events raises particular communication challenges, it also means an additional opportunity to interact with consumers below the line and the need to consider a distracted audience during content creation.

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Nigerian national team forward Ahmed Musa
Nigerian national team forward Ahmed Musa

Mark the striker        

Keep an eye on Coke to react to and learn from, when it comes to the World Cup, they’re everyone’s biggest competition. Coke was the only brand that a significant number of people were aware of as a WC sponsor before the WC actually started. Coke’s legacy association with the World Cup, built on many years of partnership, as well as the World Cup Trophy Tour, creates a halo effect that puts all other brands at a disadvantage before their campaigns even start.

Be the best on and off-field        

Don’t just show up, stand out – otherwise, you may just be doing more harm than good. If your brand, or your campaign, is not distinctive enough, you’ll end up helping your competitors. We tracked brand and campaign awareness for one of the key global World Cup sponsors and noted very strong awareness – which is good since they paid at least 100 million dollars for it. But in the Nigerian market, their two key competitors also had very strong recall of World Cup campaigns, despite having invested absolutely nothing

Don’t hug the line, channel or strategy

In terms of not just strategy but also channel, be reactive & topical, don’t just stubbornly work your way through a marketing strategy but adjust and react based on circumstances. This year, Italy failed to qualify for the World cup for the first time since 1958. As part of their advertising campaign, McDonald’s and Uber Eats decided to help World Cup winner Andrea Pirlo from the Italy team find a new country to support during the FIFA World Cup. The “Team for Pirlo” campaign is a fun approach to a somewhat touchy topic for Italians. Many would have given up on any efforts to harness the marketing potential of the world cup after a country’s team was eliminated but McDonald’s and Uber Eats show us there is always a brand opportunity if you think laterally enough.

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Let’s do this all over again in 2022

The World Cup has become a global phenomenon that beguiles football fans every four years.  Going into Qatar come 2022, sponsor and non-sponsor brands must strategize ways to tap into a World Cup audience in a media space that will be more fragmented than ever.

In the words of Sifiso Falala, the incoming president of PAMRO “Wisdom is like a Baobab tree. No one individual can claim it. Media researchers must harness collaborative synergies into the new era of audience measurement.

Talk to us about our Audience Measurement service which provides you with a Mobile TV audience panel available in 6 African countries, daily ratings using 4-hour recall of viewing in 30-minute time blocks. The service includes paytv, mobile/online streaming and out of home viewing. Our bespoke research solutions include campaign ROI, market insights, and concept testing.

Download a copy of our PAMRO 2018 presentation