Sports media: adland must take note
Sports media: adland must take note
A view from James Kirkham

Sports media content is winning on social

Adland should now be looking to the changing face of sports media as a template for a more guaranteed, successful future of their own, writes James Kirkham.

We look to sport for many things, from providing inspiration to achieving your dreams against the odds, as Leicester City has just beautifully proved possible.

Football disruption is now a great example of the changing communications landscape within sport as previously it was always covered in the same format. Traditionally we would see suits sat in studios reviewing the action at arms length, detached from their audience and removed from the real fans.

It's been conducted the same way for 50 years, assuming consumers are happy with being fed the status quo. Sound familiar? 

But now, everything looks different. We’re about to embark on a European Championships with technology and audience behaviour providing a once in a lifetime opportunity for marketeers the world over, that will help inform the next 50 years of communication. And Adland needs to sit up and take note.

The only winners in football this summer will be those with a fan-centric approach and who focus on an audience first mentality. It is ingrained in the psyche of advertising to interrupt and seduce the dumb consumer into buying what they didn’t realise they wanted.

Yet this is now a comically outdated method and football is one area that demonstrates a rising ability of fans to take over the asylum. The audience is increasingly in control and fan power is on the rise. 

We’re about to embark on a European Championships with technology and audience behaviour providing a once in a lifetime opportunity for marketeers the world over

A confluence of technological innovation and behavioural expectation means everything will now look different, and we’ll be all the better for it. Facebook Live enables a proximity and coverage which has never before been possible, meaning fans get to literally connect in and be a part of the action as it happens.

This is a demand now of an audience who have for too long been kept at arm’s length, and who now want to be in it to win it. This is a world away from billboard ads created by agencies who hope their work is so creatively stunning that the message will lodge itself in the brains of the passer by.

Snapchat too is being pushed and pioneered through sport, providing the most authentic lens possible to an army of fans who do not want stage-managed or manicured profiles, and instead want everything as real as is possible.

Even Facebook’s "traditional" newsfeed feels more like old advertising compared to the desires of younger audiences who are hell bent on only consuming truth and authenticity. 

The crafting and smart delivering of content is another area that sport is far more adept at demonstrating than an antiquated advertising model. Truly disruptive and impactful sports media ensures stories get shared around the world at the speed of a meme, and that the reaction to it evolves the story instead of killing it.

There is no room for six month creative cycles to make spots that end up going nowhere. This is a fast paced, test and learn world born out of sporting necessity. Fans need it now, not tomorrow, and on their own terms, not those of some aloof brand. 

This summer will see messaging like WhatsApp, Kik, WeChat and Facebook messenger start to make inroads into the communications monopoly too, with football being the reason for its rise. This is a nod to audience on demand, where an Uber generation require satisfaction in an instant.

Messaging completes the circle, providing both the most transparent and honest eco system to have a conversation, while enabling and empowering a consumer so that they can pull in content and reward people whenever they feel like it. 

From live streaming on Twitter (NFL) through to periscoped press conferences, sport is demonstrating how the audience should always come first. If fans are treated with respect, they’ll do the hard work for you. This is perhaps the greatest lesson for advertising to learn.

By James Kirkham, head of Copa90