World Cup Advertising Spend Heading In New Directions

World Cup Ad Spend Heading In New Directions

One of the most popular sporting events in the world is the FIFA World Cup, which draws millions of viewers every year and generates millions of dollars worth of advertising revenue. As technology has evolved over the past decade, as well as how companies have approached advertising during this global event, advertising has evolved. We will examine how advertising during the World Cup has evolved over the past decade and how OTT (over-the-top) advertising has become more critical in recent years. 


The World Cup is the biggest sporting event in the world by a wide margin regarding spending on advertising. While other events such as the Olympics, Formula One, and UEFA Champions League see their fair share of spending when it comes to adverting, none can compare to the World Cup. Companies from around the globe shell out millions upon millions of dollars for various advertising ventures during a single edition of the tournament. This is because of how passionate people are about soccer and its global reach; over 3.6 billion people watched in 2018, and advertisers are always looking to draw attention to their brand or product with creative campaigns. 


With new technology being developed continuously, these campaigns have become more sophisticated and better at reaching viewers worldwide. The high spending on World Cup advertising has been an expected result, given its status as a truly global spectacle that inspires viewers year after year.

When the World Cup is on, where do ad dollars go?

As a result of the significant advertising gains obtained from sponsoring the FIFA World Cup, a variety of high-profile corporations have consistently been drawn to invest in the event. There are different approaches taken by sponsors depending on their size and the target audience they are trying to reach. Yet any company that takes advantage of such an enormous platform will invest considerable money into its marketing efforts to maximize its effectiveness. 


It is estimated that official sponsors spent $1 billion in media advertising before the most recent World Cup, with some companies spending up to $150 million apiece. Even though it is a significant investment, many organizations feel that there is nothing quite like being associated with what is arguably the most significant sports event in the world.


The volume of ad spending during a World Cup cycle has increased steadily over the past decade. According to estimates from sources, ad spending during the 2018 World Cup was $3 billion worldwide, up from $2.4 billion in 2014 and $1.6 billion in 2010. This rapid growth is primarily driven by demand for television spots during matches and digital campaigns across social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. 


As ad spending during the World Cup has grown, so too have its sources. Traditional TV spots remain a significant source of revenue generation for broadcasters, accounting for around two-thirds of total ad spend in 2018, according to Kantar Media estimates. Digital campaigns have also been growing in importance, with some estimates putting their share of total global ad spend to exceed 60%. Radio campaigns also still make up a significant portion of total ad spending—around 10%—although their share is expected to shrink slightly over time as digital campaigns eclipse them in terms of effectiveness and cost efficiency.  

The rise of OTT advertising in football

The digital landscape of World Cup advertising has vastly improved the way companies reach their audience. Even before the tournament kicked off, targeted social media campaigns worked hard to build anticipation and hype around the games. Campaigns that capitalize on fan behavior, such as McDonald’s ‘Fry Futsal’ campaign, where you can move a fry up and down your device to control a virtual football player, tap into what gets fans most excited about this sporting event. 


Over-the-top (OTT) advertising has become increasingly popular among brands looking to reach audiences during sporting events like the World Cup due to its ability to target specific demographics with precision and cost efficiency. OTT ads are beautiful to brands because they offer more control over where advertisements are placed on streaming services like YouTube and Hulu, allowing advertisers to target specific users based on their viewing habits or interests more precisely than ever before. 


OTT is slowly dominating the home entertainment space, so streaming services are looking to take advantage of this opportunity. FIFA launched its streaming service in April 2022, initially launching six languages and later adding four more. The primary consumers of OTT are undoubtedly Millenials and Gen-z, who are simultaneously avid football fans. A study conducted in Asia showed that 33% of Southeast Asian users stream through an OTT service.  


Traditional methods are still being used during this World Cup cycle, with billboards popping up in places like Moscow and Tokyo, advertisements on TV everywhere you turn, and banners displayed in every stadium – but digital advertising is taking center stage. Fans today expect an experience engaging with brands rather than just passive absorption of traditional ads, which digital marketing can provide them quickly. Digital campaigns also allow companies to target different markets by segmenting their audiences, which wasn’t possible with traditional advertising. The power and reach of digital marketing in the modern day continue to be astonishing, and it takes a significant share of the advertising pie during events like the World Cup.

The Future of Advertising in the World Cup & Final Thoughts

Advertising for the World Cup appears to evolve with the increased use of technology. Companies are now using social media and mobile marketing strategies to reach fans before, during, and after the tournament. As more immersive experiences become available, advertisers can devote more resources to creating meaningful connections with viewers to make their brands stand out from the competition. Additionally, virtual reality may soon transform how companies market their products during World Cup coverage. With tools like 360-degree videos and augmented reality, fans can experience soccer on an entirely new level. The future of World Cup advertising is bright and no doubt full of imagination and creativity.


Overall, it’s clear that there’s been a marked shift towards digital advertising when it comes to marketing strategies for global sporting events such as the FIFA World Cup over the past decade or so. With traditional TV spots still accounting for most of the total ad spending but OTT ads making up an increasingly large slice of the pie—and digital campaigns rapidly gaining ground—it’ll be interesting to see how these trends continue to unfold going forward into 2022 and beyond. Regardless, it’s clear that savvy marketers will need to take advantage of all available channels to maximize their return on investment when it comes time for another edition of soccer’s biggest event!