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The Live Sports Advertising Opportunity

Shira Petrack
December 29, 2022
The Live Sports Advertising Opportunity

Sports advertising has been around for decades, but thanks to advances in out-of-home advertising technology, advertising during live sporting events has recently become more accessible to brands and more engaging to consumers. But how can companies decide which types of events to sponsor? 

To help provide an answer to this question, we dove into the location intelligence data for some of the biggest sporting matches held at Madison Square Garden in 2022 to understand how different types of events draw different crowds – and what this means for sponsors and advertisers. 

The Return of Live Events

Madison Square Garden is one of the most famous indoor venues in the U.S. Located in the heart of Manhattan, the Garden hosts everything from concerts to sports games – and the wide variety of events held at the center mean that the venue draws a different crowd almost every night. 

Like most of New York City, Madison Square Garden shut its doors early in the pandemic. But the venue reopened in June 2021, and over the past year, Madison Square Garden – like Midtown Manhattan in which it is located – has been inching closer to pre-pandemic visit levels. And the return of spectators means the return of advertising opportunities. 

Using Location Intelligence to Optimize In-Stadium Advertising 

OOH advertising refers to any form of advertising that consumers are exposed to outside their home or outside personal electronic devices. This includes everything from displays in public spaces – such as billboards and posters on bus shelters – to in-stores ads exhibited through retail media networks to in-stadium advertising. 

In the past, making sure that OOH advertising assets reached the right audience was tricky, since it was difficult to assess the number of people seeing the ads and the audience segments being reached. As a result, many advertisers favored advertising locations with a relatively constant visitor profile or mega-events such as the Super Bowl, that were sure to draw massive crowds. But improvements in location intelligence have made it possible to quantify and evaluate OOH audiences on a much more granular level by providing visibility into daily – or even hourly – visitor characteristics. This means that advertisers can use digital billboards and other dynamic media to reach specific audiences through in-stadium advertising in ways similar to how advertisers operate online. 

Madison Square Garden: Select Sporting Events

To better illustrate the potential of OOH advertising – and specifically in-stadium advertising – to reach specific audiences, we analyzed Madison Square Garden’s True Trade Area (TTA) on six different dates in 2022 corresponding to different major sporting events. Each of the six events, despite being held in the same venue, attracted vastly different audiences. 

The trade areas of Madison Square Garden on the days of the WWE Wrestlemania 381 and the Women’s Lightweight Boxing Championship (the first boxing match headlined by two women ever held at MSG), for example, had a relatively similar size and median household income. But the areas feeding spectators to the women’s boxing event had a higher share of owner-occupied households (and lower share of renter-occupied ones) – which indicates that the boxing match likely had a higher share of homeowners in the audience. Advertisers could use this data to decide where to promote home remodeling or mortgage refinancing services.  

Even events that appeared to draw the same crowd actually attracted significantly different audiences. For example, visitors to MSG during the mid-season NBA game between the NY Knicks and the LA Clippers on January 23rd and the finals of the NCAA Big East Conference on March 12th came from trade areas with similar median household incomes and shares of owner-occupied housing. But the geography of the trade area was different, with less than a quarter of each event’s trade area overlapping with that of the other event. 

MSG’s trade area on March 12th 2022 – the day of the Conference Final game – included Washington Heights, the Bronx, and parts of New Jersey, which indicates that people came from these neighborhoods to watch the game in-person. But the Garden’s trade area on January 23rd 2022 (the day of the NBA game) encompassed the Upper West Side along with areas of Brooklyn and Connecticut – valuable information for marketers looking to reach residents in these areas. 

Smaller Sporting Events Hold Major Advertising Potential 

Madison Square Garden is just one of the many multi-purpose venues throughout the country that regularly crowds to a variety of sporting and entertainment events. Just like location intelligence is empowering retailers to leverage their fleets into advanced retail media networks, stadiums – and companies that advertise through them, can utilize this technology to gain deeper visibility into visitors and optimize their advertising investments.

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