Premier League has become a data minefield for brands

The Premier League football season is once again upon us, with Manchester United getting proceedings underway against Swansea City on Saturday. Coming just over a month after the end of the World Cup, the prospect of more football mania will either excite or exhaust you, depending on your inclination. Marketers cannot afford to stand still, though, if they wish to maximise their upcoming football strategies.

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Long gone are the days when brands simply slapped their name on a team kit or pitch-side advertising board in the hope of cashing in on the beautiful game. Football marketing today is a complex business played out across multiple channels and against countless competitors. The brands that achieve success this season and secure their place in fans’ affections will be those that can harness and use data effectively to drive engagement.

As a report on Marketing Week this week reveals, a number of Premier League sponsors are this season integrating their football activations with their wider media plans to a greater extent than ever before.

Sandwich brand Subway, for example, is seeking to use insights from its sponsorship of Liverpool FC to inform its content marketing and social media activity throughout the year. Carlsberg, meanwhile, is developing an online platform that will track potential viral content from football fans for use across its own channels.

These strategies reflect the fact that brands cannot simply broadcast their own messages at fans and expect results. With second screening on mobile devices and social media becoming increasingly important elements of the football viewing experience, brands need to find compelling ways of contributing to the conversations that fans are already having.

Data marketers play an essential role here – not just in assimilating what fans are saying and where they are saying it, but in helping to inform brands’ evolving strategies. Creative talent is still vital of course, as evidenced by the fact that more and more brands are creating internal newsrooms to focus solely on content creation around sport and real-time responses to the action.

Brands that devote the same level of attention to their data strategies can help to ensure that this investment is targeted, effective and, most importantly, achieves results. It’s not an open goal, but with the right approach it’s certainly possible for brands to score.