March Madness Online Viewing is a Layup for Marketers

The madness has already started. Yes, I’m talking March Madness. The post-season sports event of the year that comes in a close second behind the NFL’s Super Bowl.

Ad revenues are expected to be absolutely ridiculous this year. And there’s little reason to doubt this, especially if you consider the trends in the last several years. According to Adweek, CBS alone, in 2010, took in $613.8 million in ad sales revenue, marking an increase of 4 percent from the previous year. And, that bundle of cash nearly set a new record over the 2008 tournament.

Not to mention, there are several noteworthy changes to this year’s tournament that are driving these big expectations. The number of teams has expanded from 65 to 68, creating three additional games. Under a new 14-year, $10.8 billion TV rights agreement that was negotiated last spring, CBS and Turner Broadcasting are partnering to show every tournament game live, spreading the telecasts across four national TV networks: CBS, TBS, TNT and truTV. Additionally, similar to last year, all of the games will be streamed online, providing marketers additional opportunities to reach a huge audience and to build integrated, cross-channel marketing programs.

A recent report by Challenger, Gray & Christmas suggests this year’s NCAA men’s basketball tournament will result in 14 million hours of online viewership—and, heck, I think that’s just in the Digital Envoy office.  Can you say trifecta?!  This leaves little doubt that more advertisers are going to be focusing their efforts on the digital side. With an audience mix that consists of fans from Ohio to Kansas to Pennsylvania to North Carolina, even a Dookie can realize that it’s imperative that online marketers take advantage of geo-targeted ads to reach consumers close to home.

Speaking of North Carolina…we’re back in the hunt.  Go Heels!!!

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