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Have you ever wondered whether big events have any effect on how marketers reach their audiences? Under normal circumstances, some people are clicking on your ads while others are riveted by something they are doing, and it all evens out, we assume. But what about when a big event is capturing the attention of a sizable chunk of the audience? A new study set out to answer that question during a recent World Cup soccer match, and what it found has an interesting lesson for marketers.

Our own Aaron Kim recently did a social media roundup on the FIFA World Cup, showing the immense popularity of social media, especially during matches. It comes as no surprise to you that Twitter usage reached its all-time peak during a World Cup match.
So, as an advertiser, does that mean that you should pull your ads on match days? You might think that, with all those folks tweeting away, no one is clicking on your ads. A new study by Infolinks sheds a bit of light on that question:
As you look at the chart, notice that the click rates on advertising do indeed drop during the World Cup match, as you might expect, but click rates rise right after that match—to even higher than normal levels. So, while it might make sense to pause your ads during the match, be careful! If you don’t turn them back on immediately after that match, you’ll miss a clicking bonanza.
But you need to think clearly about this data in another way, too. When dealing with big events like this one, you might want to fall back on traditional television concepts, such as counter-programming. When one channel has the World Cup on, the others don’t go dark. Even though a big chunk of their viewership might be otherwise occupied, they strive to put on a program that draws well among those uninterested in the World Cup.
Perhaps they put on programming that appeals to non-sports fans. It might be that men are disproportionately attracted to the sports event, so programs targeted to women who aren’t sports fans might be a winner. You should think about the same thing when deciding what you do with your advertising. If you know that your audience overlaps with the audience of the big event, it makes a lot of sense to pause during the event. On the other hand, if your audience has little in common, you might find that advertising during the event is actually beneficial, when those sports widows are looking to do some shopping while hubby is camped in from of the TV (and, apparently, Twitter).
But the great thing about Internet marketing, is that you need not rely on these tired gender stereotypes. You can test. It might well be true that more men than women are drawn to the sports event, but find out by testing. Only then will you know exactly what you should do with your ads for your products.
Thanks to the folks at Infolinks for providing this study to us a week before its actual publish date. If you’re like me, you probably found it surprising that click rates jump after the event. I guess I expected that the rates would drop during the event, but did not imagine that there was pent-up demand that got released after the event. Now you know.

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Mike Moran

About Mike Moran

Mike Moran has a unique blend of marketing and technology skills that he applies to raise return on investment for large marketing programs. Mike is a former IBM Distinguished Engineer and a senior strategist at Converseon, a leading social consultancy. Mike is the author of two books on digital marketing, an instructor at several leading universities, as well as a Senior Fellow at the Society for New Communications Research.

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