Owning Big Cultural Moments

From Scott Falzone, Managing Director, Telecom, Google

Big cultural moments like The Oscars or Grammys that would gather people around the living room have changed profoundly. The “Big Game”, the most iconic of them all, has historically been seen as parties around the TV.

In the advent of the biggest sports event that gives brands a unique opportunity to talk to a broad audience, strategies to reach the same audience need to be rethought. Once capable of gathering 114M people1 around the big screen, the numbers have dramatically fallen, and planning tools need to be adapted. According to the New York Times, in 2021, the “Big Game” was the least-watched NFL championship game since 2007 (in 2021 the audience was shy from 90M). Compared with 2020, its viewership decreased by 6%, and among the most coveted audience (Adults 18-49), viewership on TV has declined more than 53%2.  

So, where have these viewers gone? They are in the same place! Still in the living room, looking at the big screen but streaming,  which means that the way sports fans watch and engage with the “Big Game” has changed. According to eMarketer, in September 2021, Connected TV viewers (221M) surpassed Pay TV viewers (144M)3, and there’s no turning back. As the media became more fractured, the way to own the fandom of a Big Moment, goes beyond the show itself.

Meet your audience where they are and own your space on Connected TV. Live sports-viewing is shifting online. eMarketer projects that the number of U.S. digital live sports viewers would reach 57.5M4, and according to Comscore, YouTube is the number one streaming platform in reach and watch time among all ad-supported streaming services5. You can grow your reach further by combining linear TV and YouTube!. Try analyzing your campaigns with Nielsen’s Total Ads Ratings (TAR) data, which measures reach across multiple platforms. This will help you find the right mix of YouTube and linear TV that optimizes their combined reach. You can use this strategy to extend your campaign reach or achieve your current reach targets more efficiently. Kimberly-Clark earned 36% more reach by adding YouTube CTV campaigns6

Connect with your audience, leveraging their curiosity beyond the game. More than 90% of millennials who watch sports videos say they do so on YouTube7, and they do it because viewers 79% say that YouTube has sports content that can’t be found anywhere else8. Fans continue to stream YouTube to catch the in-depth, behind-the-scenes content they love on screens big and small. YouTube watch time of sports videos on TV screens increased more than 65% in 20209, and that doesn’t include live content. Brands and creators can win big by meeting consumers with unique, relevant content in these moments that matter.

Don't limit your presence to one screen or format. During these events and the days after the big moment, consumers will continue to turn on YouTube to watch the game's biggest highlights. Made for digital creatives are alway the best but don’t let that stop you! Repurposing your creatives to different formats will help capitalize on the growing watch time, you can close the loop and interact with viewers. In 2020, Hershey took Reese’s Take5 creatives and added a mix of ad formats, including YouTube Connected TV and Home feed ads, ensuring the Reese's “Take 5” message ran across all screens where fans were engaged. The “Big Game”campaign became the most efficient digital video campaign for the Hershey Company, gaining 24% incremental reach among their key audience of adults ages 18 to 34 and delivering a high ROI10.

1SportsMediaWatch  - Super Bowl Ratings History
2 The New York Times
3 eMarketer, September 2021
4 eMarketer, February 2021
5 Comscore OTT Intelligence, Oct. 2019, U.S
6 Think with Google, Dec. 2021
7Google/ISG, U.S., Global Audiences Study, n=437 millennials (ages 23–38) whoever watch sports content, Jan. 2020.
8Google/ISG, U.S., Global Audiences Study, n=553 millennials (ages 23–38), Jan. 2020.
9 YouTube Internal Data, Global, July 2019–July 2020.
10Think with Google, February 2021