Magnite (NASDAQ: MGNI) is the world’s largest independent sell side advertising platform that combines Rubicon Project’s programmatic expertise with Telaria’s leadership in CTV. Publishers use its technology to monetise their content across all screens and formats including desktop, mobile, audio and CTV. And the world's leading agencies and brands trust its platform to access brand safe, high quality ad inventory and execute billions of advertising transactions each month.

Five Ways Marketers Can Win in the Live Sports Arena

By James Young, Managing Director of Australia, Magnite

As audiences increasingly turn to streaming services to watch their favourite programming, the worlds of CTV and traditional broadcast are colliding, unlocking new opportunities and inventory for marketers to reach their audiences.

Live linear viewing is a key example of this, especially live sports. Recent Magnite research shows that 68% of CTV streamers in Australia and New Zealand now watch at least one live streaming service, with 70% of CTV live streamers regularly watching sports content.

Alongside growing audiences, live sports ad budgets have increased significantly year-over-year, with a wide array of companies now engaging in the space. 

Marketers from a diverse range of industry sectors are taking advantage of the opportunities in the live sports arena to capture highly engaged, live audiences at scale – from health and well-being, to charities, luxury brands, government, and retailers. This growth is evidenced by the data: this past autumn, Australian live sports ad budgets grew by 135%. Live sports streamers are also likely to watch multiple ad-supported services; they aren’t just siloed to one channel, giving brands multiple entryways to reach them.

While their spend and objectives vary considerably, all draw heavily on five key guidelines:

1. Know your audience.

Streaming TV is now regarded as mainstream and can include news, live linear events, reality shows, live sports, and beyond. What makes the live-streaming TV audience distinctive is that it is more highly engaged, actionable, and receptive to ads, particularly live sports viewing.

Nearly half of live sports streamers (49%) believe TV ads are an ‘important part’ of the viewing experience, and 62% of live sports streamers said they had discovered new products due to watching ads on streaming services.

Advertisers can benefit from understanding how live sports audiences stack up against other streaming cohorts. For example, sports fans prefer to watch live rather than watching on demand with 70% of live sports programming watched in real-time. Understanding your audience and their streaming behaviours can tailor your campaign strategy to maximise ROI.

2. Choose premium, high-quality streaming environments. 

The Australian market has been in a fortunate position to have an extensive range of broadcasters supplying streaming inventory to choose from - Kayo, Optus Sport, Nine Entertainment, Seven West Media, SBS, ESPN and Paramount all have sporting supply.

With this volume of choice, it’s important to select the right environment to advertise in, along with the data that can be used to drive campaign outcomes. Data should ideally go beyond the household level to include more granular options such as a viewer’s age, geographic location, family composition, or hobbies.

With sports audiences conditioned to flawlessly delivered viewing experiences, quality is king — even with ads. Pixilated video, poor sound or other ad quality issues can compromise the viewing experience and ultimately the advertiser’s brand value. Frequency capping tools and automated creative review can help deliver seamless execution to meet audience expectations. Don’t let a poor ad experience have a negative impact on brand perception.

3. Go omnichannel.

OTT is highly conducive to an omnichannel marketing strategy, with viewers live streaming sports across a mix of devices. With multiple touchpoints at their fingertips, marketers can effectively communicate and reinforce their message across channels. Instead of thinking of OTT as a siloed channel, make it part of a full-funnel marketing solution. Use tools that streamline and track performance across OTT supply to see where there is opportunity for retargeting and tailor creative CTAs for each environment.

OTT is especially ideal for those looking to expand their existing marketing strategy, especially those that still only rely on traditional methods of marketing, i.e. events, social media, or email marketing campaigns.

As OTT viewing matures, content delivery will improve across devices — and become more interactive. Already, certain live sports apps offer behind-the-scenes content, different angles of the field, or the ability to listen to certain announcers. Media plans that take advantage of such programming across the big and small screen will benefit from greater reach and engagement.

4. Power campaigns with programmatic.

Programmatic trading has robust targeting capabilities that make it a fast-growing method to reach audiences. Global programmatic CTV ad spend rose 32% last year and is expected to continue to increase moving forward.

With programmatic, marketers can access, optimise and transact on live sports inventory with ease and efficiency. An ad can be up and running within minutes, creating more opportunities to tailor or pivot ad creative. Campaigns can also be tweaked in-flight to capture spikes in viewership or play more highly performant ads.

5. It doesn't need to break the bank.

To access live sports, media companies used to have to ‘go big or go home,’ with big budgets required to win access to sports appointment viewing. That’s no longer the case. OTT advertising puts smaller and mid-sized brands on a more equal playing field because it doesn’t require astronomical budgets to tap into scaled, diverse audiences that previously required high upfront spend to access. OTT also allows marketers to run both wide or more narrow campaigns, tapping into all parts of the marketing funnel.

In this way, OTT advertising is an especially alluring channel for brands looking to invest in sports while meeting budget constraints. Budgets can also be adjusted based on performance, so spend can be allocated to the most effective campaigns and ad spots.

As CTV’s impression-based buying crosses over to more channels, live sports streaming shouldn’t be kept on the bench. Sports streaming gives brands a low barrier to entry to reaching a massive fan base, with the addressability and tools to score greater ROI on campaigns that win.

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