Just what is virtual advertising anyway? (and what’s in it for me?)

Virtual reality, virtual desktop, virtual assistant, virtual happy hour. Despite the recent proliferation of all things virtual, the technology behind virtual advertising has actually been around for decades. And those years have enabled the technology to continually make leaps in terms of quality and reliability, while also creating a virtually-perfect marketing monetization tool.

For the sports industry in particular, virtual advertising offers a lucrative (and enduring) opportunity for both sponsor brands and rights holders.

Multiply the marketing power of in-venue signage

The most common application for virtual advertising is on LED or static perimeter boards, which surround the field for sports such as football, ice hockey, basketball, baseball or tennis. Traditionally, these perimeter boards allow sponsor brands to build brand recognition and reach viewers in a passive way by displaying short advertising messages directly behind the field of play.

But considering the potential reach of those advertisements through broadcasting and the fact that there are limited fans on-site these days anyway, the viewing audience can span the globe. Which sounds great in theory, but focusing on a more targeted audience is always going to produce a better ROI than just throwing your message out to “sports fans of the world”.

Virtual advertising allows an alternative advertising message to be displayed during broadcast. The new ad is virtually inserted in the broadcast feed in such a precise manner that the television audience has no idea that they are seeing something different than the fans on-site. Kind of like those virtual Zoom backgrounds, but exponentially more realistic.

The new advert shows up only to the targeted audience and the virtual technology ensures a clear, reliable image regardless of weather conditions or fancy footwork. If you want the detailed nitty-gritty, keep an eye out for our blog explaining the technical aspects of a virtual advertising solution coming soon.

Attract local fans with a localised message

What is the value in showing a Chinese-language advertisement to a German-speaking sports fan? Or vice versa? The marketing message that resonates the most will be the one written in local language and promoting a locally-available product or service. If not, your in-venue signage just becomes (expensive) background decor.

For sponsor brands, using virtual advertising means eliminating the need to choose which audience to target. Instead, you can target all of them (or as many as your budget allows). For example, you could produce four different versions of perimeter board ads, which are displayed virtually to four different geographical audiences simultaneously. A La Liga football match broadcast in Spain shows your product sold in that region, while that same match broadcast in the UK shows a more locally-relevant alternative. Now you are actually targeting your audience effectively.

Likewise, if you’re a local brand, with a smaller budget, virtual advertising makes buying LED perimeter board advertising space a viable option. Instead of investing big marketing-dollars in global media exposure, you can have your ad shown to a specific geographic location, at a more reasonable price.

This ability to display different products or messages in the broadcast feeds also provides brands with a compelling way to comply with local blocking regulations, but still reach certain markets. In countries where there are regulatory bans on the physical display of advertising for product categories like sports betting, tobacco or alcohol, brands could still show this banned product in the virtual feed of audiences in designated regions. In-venue, the banned product is nowhere to be seen, thus meeting all regulations, but it is visible in regions where it is allowed.

Revenue stream hack for rights holders

Rights holders benefit from offering virtual advertising space too. Traditionally a rights holder sold slots of 15 or 30 seconds to one brand. With virtual advertising technology in place, that same spot could be sold a second time to another brand in a different geographical region. Depending on the number of broadcast feeds/streams available, a rights holder can create unlimited packages and options to suit any size brand or budget. One revenue stream now becomes many.

In fact, pretty much every stakeholder benefits from virtual advertising. For broadcasters, the ability to reach an audience with a tailored product increases the value of a TV broadcast. Likewise, the different audience segments watching the broadcast are consuming marketing messages that are actually of relevance to their location.

Decades of data means decades of insights and improvements

Unlike most newcomers offering virtual advertising solutions, Supponor has been focused on building and enhancing the technology for 20 years – with 10 of those years focused on commercial deployment. We’re not just pioneers in virtual advertising, we’re pretty much leading the pack. In fact, our award-winning technology is approved for all conditions. That means regardless if the sports event is played during the night or day, under floodlights, bright sun or shade, rain or fog, you will always get a realistic, reliable solution.

By testing and live producing virtual applications across hundreds of events, we have accumulated an unmatched amount of data and experience to train and develop existing and new software components more successfully than any other player in the industry. Without decades of data, even the most sophisticated software will never be able to feed its system with the necessary information to perform as rapidly and accurately as ours. Additionally, the revenues from 10 years of commercial deployment have allowed us to reinvest in research and development longer and more intensely – ensuring clients have the most advanced solution available.

If you’re interested in hearing more about how virtual advertising could boost your business, give us a call.

+44 203 423 6521

Massimo Magrì

EU Commercial Officer | Supponor

Revolutionary Approach for Sports Content Offering & Delivery

How OTT content distribution, influenced by current market developments, paves the way for innovative technology solutions to further enhance their value propositions.

Along with many other sectors, broadcast media is experiencing the effects of the Covid-19 situation that currently keeps everyone on a tight grip. We have now entered an era designated as the ‘new normality’, in which our habits change significantly, and industries are forced to adopt different business and operational models, compared to what we considered common practice.

However, as Einstein once said;

“In the midst of every crisis, lies great opportunity”

This applies to the current situation in the sense that there is an opportunity for the industry to dramatically evolve, which requires businesses to be more innovative then ever in order to satisfy the needs of the market. Especially the Sports & Entertainment industry, which arguably has been one of the most affected industry worldwide, is experiencing issues to satisfy market needs such as reaching target audiences and generating value to rights holders and brands. Several initial studies have shown the immense financial impact of the pandemic on the sports industry, with the Big Five European Football leagues expected to lose up to €4bn in revenues in the 2019-20 season alone, and the value of players to be reduced by a staggering €10bn.

Football Benchmark

The coronavirus pandemic is yet another factor that accelerates market trends we have witnessed since before the outbreak, demanding sports and entertainment to innovate, adapt, and deliver against market needs even more rapidly. One of, if not the most, relevant developments in the broadcast media industry in relation to sports and entertainment has been the substantial growth of the OTT platforms as dominant distribution channel.

The evolving adoption of OTT platforms as the go-to hosts for the consumption of live sports and entertainment content present the opportunity for broadcasters, rights holders, and brands to carry out the most innovative marketing strategies developed to date. While OTT platforms are direct-to-consumer (D2C) focused, opportunities arise to impact the end consumer with more personalized marketing communications than through traditional distribution models. Audiences receive the live broadcast signals over IP rather than through fiber or satellite connections, meaning that individual consumers can be impacted with the content and marketing communications most relevant to them.

Throughout the last decades, technology innovation has become a factor inseparable from the Sports & Entertainment industry, not in the last place because of the opportunity it presents to acquire new marketing tools and, eventually, unlock new revenue streams.

Visual graphic technologies have been widely adopted by the Sports & Entertainment industry for a long time, initially to mostly serve as source of data and statistics to contribute to the viewing experience of an event. In addition to this, virtual technologies have been developed over time to drive commercial value as well, with many rights holders deploying Virtual Advertising solutions to diversify commercial inventory and generate additional revenues. The market has come to understand the flexibility by which these solutions can be deployed, which can be strategically adopted to serve specific market needs.

One of those needs is the personalization of the content delivered during live events to specific audiences. Now that events can be customized to target these audiences through the OTT platforms, the market demands this to apply equally to virtual contents such as graphics and advertising. The integration of virtual solutions in the OTT distribution allows for the virtual content to be personalized as well, allowing rights holders and brands to impact individual consumers with the adequate marketing or institutional messaging.

The acceleration this trend is undergoing as a result of the pandemic makes that virtual technology solutions have to be delivered through even more flexible and efficient, though robust and reliable models. Virtual advertising was originally deployed only in those areas on or around the field of play during sports events, whilst taking all relevant conditions such as game elements, camera crew, spectators, security and medical staff, etc. into consideration. In the absence of (the majority of) spectators, and with heavily reduced staff numbers at the venue, many more areas have become available for virtualization, which in the need of improving the viewing experience and generating commercial value must be delivered almost instantaneously. Many rights holders have adopted such models, for example through virtualizing crowds or inserting simulated sound effects. From operational perspective, these solutions must be deployed whilst limiting staff traveling without incurring additional costs, causing the need to operate remotely as much as possible.

Whilst the pandemic has caused most industries to come to a halt temporarily or even permanently, it appears that this coming together with ongoing market trends in the broadcast media industry is calling for a more rapid, cost-effective, non-intrusive, and commercially valuable business model to be developed. Under the current pressure, businesses are forced to be more innovative than ever, leading to an acceleration of the industry. It would be unsurprising to find ourselves in the very near future consuming only the live sports and entertainment events we prefer whilst demanding, unconsciously or not, to receive marketing communications from brands most relevant to us and in the right language and tone of voice. Consuming anything different may have us decide to completely boycott the media presenting us with content we don’t want for good.


Read the article published by SVG Europe here:

View Article

Massimo Magrì

EU Commercial Officer | Supponor