WePlay’s Top 3 Insights for 2021

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Our team share their top 3 insights on the sports marketing industry in 2021 for our bi-weekly intelligence report, State of Play. 

2020 has finally receded into the past and good riddance, many will say. We are right to look to the future of 2021 as a year for optimism; however, 2020 has left a legacy that is here to stay. As fans are forced to switch the stands for their sofa, sport has undergone a digital transformation. With that, comes both challenges and opportunities. 

Faced with the continuing disruption of COVID-19, sports organisations have been forced to adapt and transform their business models to harness the opportunities of the digital age.

Reflecting on the year ahead, our team shared their top 3 insights on the trends that are shaping the sports marketing industry in 2021 for our bi-weekly intelligence report State of Play, which you can sign-up to here. 

1. Preparing For a Cookieless World


With Google announcing that it is phasing out support of the third-party cookie by 2022 on Chrome, the marketing industry is set for a big shift. Third-party cookies – those that collect and store data that users leave behind when they visit a webpage – have been used by advertisers to learn online user behaviours and create targeted campaigns. 

Whilst we can no longer have our cookie and eat it, 2021 will be an opportunity to unlock the power of your first-party data. First-party data – data collected directly from your audience – can allow you to develop a truly personal touch with your customers. We’ve seen this in our campaigns, reporting previously the rewards of our ‘glocal approach’ which saw a 30-40% increase in CTR (click-through rate) when personalising and tailoring successful global campaigns to local markets.

Self-contained ecosystems, or ‘walled gardens’ will be crucial to gather this data. Digiday estimates 58% of organisations expect to use subscription offerings to acquire user data in 2021, up from 29% in 2020.* So, expect to see further growth in the over-the-top streaming (OTT) and subscription-video-on-demand (SVOD) markets as organisations look to create their own ‘walled gardens’.

*Source: Digiday 

2. The Golden Customer Window


Our team has been exploring the importance of the post-conversion window for organisations. Once a customer has converted, or purchased, there is a golden window to convince new customers of the product’s value – something we’ve coined as the ‘post-click window’. 

This window is not only crucial for increasing retention and combating churn – our campaigns have seen churn levels plummet once a user has watched content on 4 unique days or more; with virtually non-existent churn levels after 10 unique days – but also to increase customer lifetime value. Our client benchmarks indicate a 2.5x increase in conversion rates and a 1.7x higher return on ad spend (ROAS) from app users vs social engagers. So, if you’re looking to introduce your existing customers to alternative revenue streams in 2021, look no further than the ‘post-click window’.

3. The Rise Of The Interactive Audience


A new year, a new lockdown. As fans are faced with the prospect of another extended period in isolation, attention will turn to ways to rediscover the social connection of live sporting events in a digital context. YouTube reports that 58% of people think watching live streams helps them feel connected to something bigger than themselves*, and so the audiences of 2021 will continue to search for this social interaction online.  

2020 saw explosive growth for the channels catering to this such as Twitch and YouTube. With the former expanding beyond its core gaming streaming service, including a newly launched ‘Sports’ category, the demand for interactive viewing is only set to increase. Watch parties, fan interviews and analysis, even sportspeople turning to the e-sporting arena, are all shaping up to be key features of the 2021 digital sporting experience. 

*Source: YouTube   

Start the new year armed with intelligence. Register here to State of Play, your bi-weekly dose of digestible analysis and actionable insight needed to help you win.

Have we missed something? Have you looked into the sports industry’s crystal ball for 2021? Let us know at stateofplay@weplay.co

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