Connected TV

What the World Cup and Black Friday Say About the Future of Ads

Two seemingly disparate events, tied together by the power of TV

What the World Cup and Black Friday Say About the Future of Ads

4 Min Read

Advertisers have a lot to celebrate right now. CTV just had its biggest year yet, as streaming viewership finally bested broadcast and cable TV and every major streaming service embraced ads. Meanwhile, last week saw the world’s biggest sporting event—the World Cup—entertaining billions around the globe as US consumers participated in a record-breaking Black Friday.

And while you may be wondering what a global soccer tournament and a US-centric day dedicated to shopping have to do with each other, it turns out these two events are running parallel paths that converge—and that road leads back to Connected TV.

The World Cup Gets Connected (TV)

As you’re probably aware, the World Cup is currently underway and breaking viewership records, with over 5 billion fans expected to watch before the tournament’s end on December 18th. But it’s not just the large audience numbers that are making waves—it’s that more viewers than ever will be streaming this year’s tournament. Telemundo is reporting a total audience delivery (TAD) increase of 24% from 2018, with streaming on Peacock and Telemundo streaming platforms seeing a viewership increase of 209% since the last World Cup. Overall, streaming has comprised of 26% of Telemundo’s total viewership for the World Cup, an extraordinary and unprecedented statistic. 

To tap into an increasingly cord-free viewership, brands are incorporating CTV and OTT into their omnichannel marketing mix with winning results. “One of the most exciting evolutions for performance marketers who want to reach World Cup streamers is the ability to use mobile measurement partners to evaluate cross-screen conversations and website traffic coming from OTT advertising,” noted Bridgette Hall, Planning Director, Americas for M&C Saatchi Performance in a report with MarTech.

This year’s tournament, held in Qatar, has been home to plenty of controversy and geopolitics playing out in a public forum – and that comes with big risks for brands. To mitigate this risk, brands on CTV platforms are sticking to their own message by telling feel-good stories that delight and inspire—and the platform’s nimbleness allows them to rest easy by adjusting campaign deployment or creative assets quickly to navigate any unexpected controversies. The wide-scale embrace of CTV by both brands and soccer fans is just the latest signal that the industry is rapidly evolving away from linear broadcast domination. As sports entertainment continues its inevitable march away from linear and towards streaming, this focus on CTV is only going to increase from both brands and fans. 

A White-Hot Black Friday

Against this backdrop, another big advertiser event has been unfolding: the Black Friday shopping “holiday.” Despite economic anxiety, this year’s unofficial start to the first post-COVID holiday season showed brands have a lot of reasons to be merry and bright. Unlike last year’s low turnout, US shoppers last week spent $9.12 billion online—an increase of 2.3% over last year. Mastercard SpendingPulse, which measures online and in-store retail sales, reports that year-over-year U.S. sales rose 12% (excluding automotive), delivering on the rosy forecasts that analysts predicted. And in another first for the holiday, 48% of all Black Friday purchases were made from a smartphone—the highest recording ever. 

Meanwhile, brands have already locked in their holiday campaigns ahead of Black Friday – and they’re relying on television more than ever. A recent Digiday+ Research study found that while nearly a quarter of brands said they expect to use TV in their holiday ads—an impressive feat in the age of social and digital marketing—only 17% said they plan to use CTV and OTT…a number that ties hauls and physical direct mail. However, when Digiday combined their results for TV ads and CTV/OTT ads, that number rose to 40%—indicating a heavy reliance on the TV format in this year’s marketing tactics. While these findings demonstrate that CTV is continuing to gain ground on linear TV in usage, it also shows that linear continues to maintain a foothold in holiday marketing strategies.

A Tale of Two TVs 

So to recap, we have yet another major tentpole event making the transition to streaming while consumers continue to shop more on their digital device in hand—how streaming viewers typically consume content. And yet, brands are still focusing their holiday spending on linear TV buys—despite them being untargetable, unmeasurable, and losing audiences to CTV. 

It’s an interesting juxtaposition at a time when marketers are skittish about the economy, budgets are tightening, and ad dollars spent are under higher scrutiny. Perhaps it’s also an indicator that some habits die hard, and the strategy of the holiday linear TV buy is something that is steeped in tradition for some brands. But while linear TV rightfully belongs in the marketing mix for many brand campaigns, this past week’s World Cup and Black Friday news further demonstrates that globally, and across seemingly disparate events, Connected TV is continuing its march towards domination—on the pitch and at the point of sale.