March Madness has officially begun! And already, brackets are being busted. By the time we are writing this post, only 3.7% of all the brackets on ESPN's Tournament Challenge are perfect.
Looks like your $1 Billion dollars may be safe, Mr. Buffett.
Yes, the March Madness tournament can be an exciting time for many; the people playing in bracket pools, the actual college players, advertisers, and media buyers.
For our line of work, naturally, we are going to focus on the last two audiences.
Though March Madness isn't nearly as huge of a spectacle as the Super Bowl, last year the tournament as a whole raked in over $1.15 billion dollars in ad revenue. An article detailed that ad space during the Final Four can reach over $1 million for 30 seconds, while the Championship game can get as much as $1.5M for 30-second ad spots.
And don't worry; these "amateurs" aren't getting a cent, per NCAA rules.
Le sigh. But we digress.
Brands are taking advantage of engaging this wide audience in a number of ways. Some are showing new ads that introduce either new product items or extensions to their product lines. Others are using this experience to launch mobile and tablet apps that brand content around showing the game.
Will some of these consumers be lost on the ads like those in the Super Bowl? Of course, being a part of such a widely seen event will undoubtedly have people who will never have interest in your product. But the Tournament has one thing over the Super Bowl: excitement.
Already several close matches have gone down to the final buzzer. In the Super Bowl, the Seahawks had it wrapped up by the second quarter. As we have harped on before, studies show that consumers have better ad recall when sports games are closer and more competitive. Advertising during March Madness allows for a greater probability that your ad will air during an exciting game, versus the occasional toss-up the Super Bowl provides.
And, because of that, we wouldn't be too surprised to see some brands use March Madness to recoup expectations of the viewership they expected from the Super Bowl, especially if their ads ran in the third or fourth quarter.
Dwayne W. Waite Jr. is partner and principal at JDW: The Charlotte Agency, a marketing and advertising shop in Charlotte, NC. He enjoys consumer behavior, economics, and football.
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