Transfer deadline day goals: How marketers can score with mobile search

This is a guest post by Tom Smith, head of biddable media at mporium.

Transfer Deadline Day is a huge event in the world of football but many marketers are missing out on an opportunity to engage with fans that are feverishly involved as the drama unfolds.

Research from Deloitte shows that 81% of people in the UK have access to a smartphone. And during the transfer window, they will turn to this device to find out the latest news about the players they want their team to sign.

For sports marketers, whether they are football clubs looking to sign fans up for season tickets or sportswear brands, this is a real opportunity to reach customers when they are highly engaged. However as you’ll see from some of the data we’ve gathered over the transfer window, moves and intrigue about them can come at unexpected times – so marketers need to have the technology on hand to make sure that they appear in search terms. For example, when a Manchester United fan idly searches for ‘Ivan Perisic’, to see if there was news on whether he would leave Inter Milan.

The problem is that it’s very expensive for marketers to optimise for terms that are more generic, like a footballer’s name, or even something as vague as ‘transfer deadline day’ as a term – so they simply can’t optimise for these terms for the whole of the transfer window, but instead need to be able to turn their search and social advertising on at the moments that really matter.

The biggest transfer in footballing history was Neymar Jr’s £198m move from Barcelona to PSG. As well as encouraging the obvious football-related searches every time the deal was mentioned on the telly, people also searched for ‘football boots’. There was a perfect opportunity here for Nike to promote their new Mercurial Superfly V Neymar boot, for example.

Similarly, Adidas could have advertised their boot range in real-time whenever a player that wears its products was mentioned. The same rule applies to any sports brand involved in football.
Just what people are prompted to search for is not always easy to predict, which is why the data can be invaluable. The hip-hop artist Stormzy was also a popular search during the summer when he was mistaken by the Irish Herald newspaper for Manchester United’s new signing Romelu Lukaku.

The move of Arsenal’s Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to Liverpool, with a brief period of interest from Chelsea, seemingly came out of nowhere with an initial spike of interest on 28th August, when Chelsea and Arsenal agreed a fee, interest calmed down whilst it looked like the legalities were being sorted out, and then peaked again on 30th following the news that the Chamberlain had turned down the deal in the hopes of a late offer from Liverpool.

This was another opportunity for Chamberlain’s boot sponsor, Nike, to promote its range and for Liverpool to take advantage of their new signing and promote season ticket sales.

With deals being struck from when the window opened on June 9th up until the last moments on August 31st the potential for marketers was huge, and by using technology to understand when people are searching for the latest news on their clubs most anticipated transfers.

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