World Cup 2014 Sponsors and Viewership Data (Updated)

July 18, 2014

This article is included in these additional categories:

Brand Loyalty & Purchase Habits | Global & Regional | Hispanic | Mobile Phone | Social Media | Sponsorships | Sports | Tablet | TV Advertising | Video

AceMetrix-World-Cup-TV-Ads-Performance-July2014With the World Cup over, it’s time to take a look back at some of its key themes for marketers. How did sponsors’ ads fare? How much buzz was there on social media? (Hint: a lot.) Which brands picked up the most followers on social media? The data suggests that while it was an exciting event for viewers, sponsors came out with mixed results. For example, World Cup-related TV ads tended to resonate only with those interested in the event, and while almost half of the most-shared video ads so far this year are related to the event, non-sponsors tended to see more activity than sponsors.

First off, some data from Ace Metrix, which looked at the performance of World Cup-related TV ads with viewers. (World Cup ads were those that were “either sponsor generated, FIFA stamped or just plain undeniably soccer-ized.”) According to the researchers, World Cup-themed ads performed 49% better among soccer fans than among non-fans, suggesting that the event was a “narrowly-targeted” one, due to only a slight majority of consumers surveyed even planning to watch a single game. (For reference, though, this year’s final was the most-watched World Cup final ever on both ABC and Univision, and the event as a whole was the most-watched World Cup ever on English-language TV.)

Ace Metrix’s analysis shows that the average Ace Score (which reflects the persuasive nature of a commercial through measures of desire, relevance, information, attention, change, and likability) for World Cup-themed ads was an impressive 724 on a 950-point scale for those 15% of respondents who watch and attend professional soccer games regularly and/or keep up with the scores. That’s a considerably higher score than the 90-day average Ace Score of 566. However, among the 51% of respondents who don’t follow professional soccer, the ads’ average Ace Score was far below-average, at 430. And for those respondents that were mostly just interested in the World Cup, the ads’ Ace Score was right around average, at 568. In other words, the ads resonated with true soccer fans, but not with those who don’t follow the sport.

Nevertheless, World Cup-themed branded videos saw a tremendous amount of shares, per Unruly, which revealed that 4 of the top 10 shared video ads so far this year are related to the World Cup. But, among the most-shared ads of the World Cup, 7 in 10 came from non-sponsors such as Danone and Samsung. Interestingly, video ad shares peaked during the first days of the World Cup and tended to lose some muster after that.

As for the battle of the brands? It depends on the metric…

Nike beat adidas, per Unruly, attracting almost three times as many video ad shares and more than twice as many ad views. But a report from Networked Insights [pdf] found that brand awareness growth among World Cup fans was highest for Budweiser, while adidas outpaced Nike in terms of share of online voice among fans.

Meanwhile, data from GlobalWebIndex (GWI) indicates that among World Cup viewers aged 16-64 in the US, UK and Brazil, Coca-Cola edged McDonald’s as the most recognized sponsor, although McDonald’s was the most-recognized by respondents in the US.

As pertains to social, data from Socialbakers (reported here by Brand Republic Group) suggests that Coca-Cola led all sponsors in Facebook follower growth, while adidas won in the Twitter follower growth sweepstakes. But Pepsi had the highest positive sentiment when it came to social mentions, per Engagor data.

There was certainly plenty of social activity surrounding the World Cup: Facebook and Twitter both reported the event to be their most social ever. Data from GWI indicates that Facebook was the social center of World Cup conversation, rather than Twitter.

Below is a brief list of interesting research (and accompanying sources) published about the World Cup; below that is coverage from the beginning of the event and prior to its start.

  • World Cup saw record-breaking live streams and online traffic (as reported by AdWeek);
  • US conference call activity dropped while the US played (data provided by InterCall);
  • Young Americans showed more interest in the World Cup than in US politics (Pew Research Center);
  • The World Cup disrupted consumers’ engagement with brands’ emails (MailChimp);
  • Some brands saw a lift in Twitter engagement, while others did not fare as well (Encore Alert, via Digiday)
  • Soccer-related online product searches grew rapidly during the event (SLI Systems, via Chain Store Age)

Mid-Event Research

YouGov-World-Cup-Sponsor-Identification-June2014Only 36% of American adults can correctly identify at least one official sponsor for the World Cup, with men significantly more able to do so than women (44% vs. 29%), according to results from a YouGov survey conducted earlier this week (June 23-24). As with other research surrounding major sporting events, the survey found a significant percentage of respondents incorrectly identifying some brands as official sponsors. Indeed, respondents were as likely to incorrectly identify Nike as they were to correctly identify Adidas (16% each).

The highest rates of correct sponsor identification were for Coca Cola (21%) and McDonalds (19%).

The study also found that Hispanics are more than twice as likely as the average American to say they’re interested in the World Cup (68% vs. 31%), while being 44% more likely to be correctly identify a sponsor (52% vs. 36%).

Following is a list of World Cup-related data, complete with sources and links to the research (where available):

  • Slightly more than 7 in 10 US viewers of any of the World Cup matches indicated that they would support brands that supported teams or players they are engaged with. Not all of the brand commercials that respondents are most engaged with are official sponsors. (BrandKeys)
  • Brands not affiliated with the World Cup have attracted three-quarters of the online World Cup ad shares online, according to statistics compiled on June 23. (Unruly)
  • Of the official sponsors, Nike had the most social mentions (357k) from June 12-24, followed by Coca Cola (297k). (Engagor)
  • The match between the US and Portugal drew 24.7 million US viewers, a new peak for a soccer game on American TV. That surpassed the average ratings for the NBA finals and the 2013 World Series. (Nielsen, via the New York Times)
  • Based on an analysis of tweets captured from Networked Insights’ English-speaking World Cup Soccer Audience and General Consumer Audience, the company finds that World Cup soccer fans are far more interested than the baseline audience in tennis, documentary movies, international travel, and video games, among others. (Networked Insights)
  • The World Cup will boost global ad spending by an estimated $1.5 billion this year, with up to one-third of that in the Latin American ad market. (ZenithOptimedia).
  • World Cup TV ads have scored lower in effectiveness (as of June 25) as Olympics or Super Bowl ads. (Ace Metrix).
  • World Cup viewers in the US who intent to watch online estimated that they would spend 45% of their World Cup viewing time watching online. (Centris Marketing Science)
  • Exponential analyzed more than 2 billion daily user interactions across its media and ad network to find that soccer equates to 13% of all sports interest in the US, and that there are 22 times more Americans interested in soccer than in NASCAR. Soccer fans were also found to be 4.6 times more likely than average to have an income above $250k and to be 13% more likely to be a Democrat. (Exponential)
  • World Cup fans in the US are 20% more likely than the average adult to multitask while watching TV and 31% more likely than average to watch online video across multiple devices. World Cup-related online trends can be accessed here. (Experian Marketing Services)
  • 3 in 4 World Cup viewers expect to be on social media while watching the events unfold, and 42% will post status updates or tweets about their favorite ads. (Crowdtap, via Inc. Magazine)
  • World Cup online ad shares surpassed Super Bowl ad shares before the events had even begun. (Unruly)
  • The World Cup was predicted to be the most social sporting event ever. (Adobe)
  • Indeed, Facebook reported that the number of World-Cup related conversations during the first week of the event (June 12-18) exceeded the Super Bowl, Oscars and Sochi Olympics combined. More Facebook data on check-ins can be found at the coming link. (Facebook)
  • There were upwards of 300 million tweets related to the World Cup through group play. (Twitter)

Pre-Event Research

Harris-World-Cup-Sentiments-June2014The World Cup is about to start, and research from SSI suggests that viewership will set new peaks. While the event provides a big audience for sponsors (and FIFA partners are reportedly projected to spend $730 million for their rights), surveys surrounding recent sporting events such as the Winter Olympics suggest that consumers often have trouble identifying sponsors. Protests in Brazil also could threaten the efforts of brands associated with the event. For the time being, though, research indicates soccer fans are paying attention to supporting brands, and that most social chatter about sponsors tends to be positive.

That’s according to research from Omnicom Media Group, reported by Adweek, which examined more than 3 million posts in 10 languages across the world on Facebook, Twitter and blogs during the final week of May. The data indicates that Adidas, a FIFA partner, is receiving by far the greatest share of voice, at 60% share of sponsor mentions (or almost 30,000). Some 58% of those mentions were deemed positive, one of the lower ratios among the top 10 mentioned sponsors.

Next on the list in terms of mentions was Budweiser (a World Cup sponsor, not FIFA partner), which only garnered roughly one-sixth as many mentions as Adidas – 64% of which were deemed positive. Despite being a FIFA World Cup partner (the highest sponsorship level), Hyundai AG did not earn even 1,000 mentions, although all of its mentions were positive.

Survey results from Nielsen-owned Harris Interactive indicate that while only about one-quarter of adults in general notice the companies which support their favorite team or players, that figure jumps to 62% among soccer fans, while resting at 41% among those interested in watching the World Cup (no doubt including casual fans).

Following is some further research about the World Cup:

  • Based on the 11 advertisers whose football ads have attracted the most shares online in 2014 (up until May 22, 2014), Unruly recently noted that brands not affiliated with the World Cup had garnered a majority 54% of the shares.
  • More than half of “Real-Time Fans” – those who plan to watch as many games live as they can, and who represent 24% of the global internet audience aged 16-64 – say that they are brand conscious and that their favorite brand plays an integral part in their online life and experience, according to GlobalWebIndex.
  • Among sports fans in 11 countries who plan to watch the World Cup and have smartphones, 63% plan to use the TV to keep up with the game, while 48% will use their phones, per the IAB.
  • The IAB study also notes that the most important elements of mobile advertising that will capture respondents’ attention during the World Cup are: fun and entertaining creative (33%); the relevancy of the product advertised (17%); and ads featuring their country’s team (16%).
  • Some 8 in 10 smartphone owners surveyed by Peel, as reported by LostRemote, plan to use a second-screen to interact with friends and family about the World Cup.

About the Data: Please access the research linked to above for further methodological details.

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