Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

How Bayer Leverkusen scored with Parallel Advertising

By Brad Rees, CEO, Mediacells

When Mediacells consults with a new football club client, the first questions we ask are, “Who are you trying to engage with?” and “How big is the audience you are going after?” 

Football clubs know their fans as intimately as local newspapers know their readership. They know their interests, which buttons to press in order to get a reaction and the kinds of advertising that resonates.  

That is where the analogy ends.  

While there is a global audience and appetite for great footballing success stories, like Bayer 04 Leverkusen’s meteoric rise through the ranks of the Bundesliga, there is less of a content hunger for regional stories from, say, the Streatham Bugle about an elderly lady’s cat being stuck up in a tree.  

 As Xabi Alonso’s Werkself side maintain a ten-point lead over reigning champions FC Bayern München, the club previously known as ‘Neverkusen’, because of their stark silverware cabinet, could be on course to win home and UEFA Europa League trophies.  

When football teams win, they get more engagement from their existing fans and attract fresh interactions from fans in other countries and cultures, intoxicated by that success.  When bigger audiences emerge, more advertising inventory needs to be sold. 

But what does a sponsor sales team do with their Bitburger beer adverts in televised games appearing in regions where the advertising of alcohol is prohibited? Or if the same game is broadcast in the USA where Jack Daniel’s is the #1 tipple but is simulcast in Canada where Jim Beam wets the most whistles? 

 The innovative answer is parallel advertising (PADS) and Bayer 04 Leverkusen is the first Bundesliga club to be permitted by the German Football League (DFL) to use parallel ads technology, from provider TGI Sport, in the 2023/24 season.  

The technology, which has been successfully deployed by the National Football League (NFL), Major League Soccer, Ligue 1 and the The Football Association, offers multiple TV feeds which can deliver targeted ads by market, in real time. The system enables the club to target different geo audiences by showing specific advertising messages, per region, on the LED perimeter screens around the home BayArena stadium. 

The fan experience is rich, contextual and relevant, with tailored creative messages per market.  

The creative is then embedded in the live feed and is visible on all camera angles, without any post production frigs or hacks.  Currently, the tech capability is restricted to four feeds which means a maximum of four markets – but as Head of Media Solutions for Sony, Norbert Paquet, said back in 2021 about the service that Sony cameras power, “This is just a taste of the innovative production possibilities and fresh revenue streams that our live production cameras enable for TV broadcasters and rights holders.” 

To all sports clubs wrangling their fan data to build meaningful and scaleable audiences the answer to the who are you trying to engage with and how big is the audience you are going after question should be ambitious and global, fueled by constantly evolving innovations. Sports, music and other live events are in the early phases of deploying sophisticated, post-programmatic marketing but down the line the advertising messages won’t be just tailored to regions but to rival derby fans.

If Bayer continue their lead over the current title holders – it might be Bayern Munich trying to reclaim the Bundesliga Meisterschale in 2025. Werkself fans could be viewing club sponsorMonster Energy drink ads, while PRIMEisotonic drinks messages are broadcast to the Bayern faithful. 

 It may sound like a naive pipe dream to expect a Minority Report level of personalised content but it’s coming to a screen near you, soon.

Opinion

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