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The cricket season game plan for advertisers

April 09, 2024
People cheering while watching a sports match at home

As the India Premier League (IPL) season is in full swing, it’s the perfect moment to dedicate this month’s seasonal spotlight to cricket—a sport that has undergone a remarkable transformation from gentleman’s game to global phenomenon.

With over 2.5 billion fans worldwide, the sport is a universal symbol of competition and camaraderie, uniting nations from Australia to Zimbabwe. At the heart of this fervor stands India, a nation where cricket isn’t just a game but a pulsating part of its cultural ethos, boasting the most zealous of fans whose passion for the game is unparalleled.

In 2023, over 500 million Indians tuned in to two of the biggest cricket events—the Indian Premier League (IPL) and the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup.1 Moreover, Indian viewers contributed significantly to the record-breaking 1 trillion global live viewing minutes recorded during the worldwide men’s cricket tournament.

These staggering numbers are a testament to the craze around cricket and Indian sports enthusiasts’ long-standing love affair with the game. A massive audience like this opens up a prime opportunity for marketers to tap into a wide demographic, united by their passion for the sport.

InMobi and Microsoft Advertising’s latest report, Digital Marketing Trends for Cricket Season 2024, offers a glimpse into the nuances of the Indian cricket fanbase during major tournaments. These insights will equip marketers with a robust game plan to ace their advertising goals as they navigate the cricket season. From trends to takeaways, here are the highlights of the report.

Taking a good innings: Search surge seen in key categories

Indian cricket fans don’t just watch the game but prefer making an experience out of it. This can be seen through the booming search interest in categories such as Satellite and Sports TV Services, Fitness and Health, In-Home Entertainment, Food and Grocery Delivery, and Home Furnishing.

Here’s a rundown of what captured maximum interest during the Indian Premier League (IPL) and ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup in 2023, and why:

  • The cricket season served as a reminder to get fit and in shape. Fitness and Health-related searches grew drastically, and Fitness Equipment topped this category with a +79% increase.
  • With millions wanting to watch the matches live, Satellite and Sports TV Services also saw massive consumer interest. Satellite TV garnered a +41% search growth.
  • Under In-Home Entertainment, both OTT consumption as well as games-related categories soared. A whopping +120% interest was observed for a popular streaming app with the onset of the tournament.
  • Increased group viewings and at-home gatherings fueled the growth of Food and Grocery Delivery. In particular, food delivery saw a +32% increase in search interest.
  • Lastly, Home Furnishing searches also grew as people chose the comfort of their home to watch the match. Fridges and Home Furniture topped this category with a +19% and +13% increase respectively.

Pro tip for marketers: Brands in these categories can leverage the lift in consumer intent to connect with fans across the country. By optimizing ads and adopting a well‑rounded, omnichannel approach, advertisers can maximize impact and cover more ground.

One brand that leveraged this golden opportunity and truly hit it out the park during the IPL rush is HDFC Life, with two powerful solutions—Automated Bidding and In‑market Audiences. When combined, both aided the brand in reaching high‑intent audiences and amplify visibility. As a result, HDFC won the search engine results page (SERP) with 850,000 impressions, an impressive 1.1x click‑through‑rate (CTR), and a 30% reduced cost‑per‑click (CPC).

Derive inspiration from their strategy; read the full story.

The scorecard for the sports category

The effect of both major cricket tournaments in 2023 trickled into the overall sports category in India. Here’s how it fared in terms of searches, CTRs, and CPCs.

  • Surge in search: In comparison to the preceding eight weeks, a +31% increase in search interest was seen during the IPL, and a +7% increase was observed during the ICC World Cup.
  • Booming CTRs: The first week of IPL saw a significant +17% increase compared to the preceding week. Similarly, a +12% growth was recorded in the first week of the ICC World Cup.
  • Higher CPCs: Soaring CPCs were observed during the IPL and ICC World Cup, with a +6% and +20% increase respectively, compared to the preceding eight weeks.
Increase in click‑through‑rates during cricket season

Winning the game with an omni-channel approach

By targeting cricket fans at different stages of their digital journey, from awareness to purchase, an omni-channel approach ensures that no potential leads are overlooked. This comprehensive coverage maximizes the reach of your marketing efforts.

Here are some tips to get started:

  • Maximize visibility and brand awareness with Connected TV, video, or display ads.
  • Boost interest and consideration for your brand by leveraging audience data and generic keywords, tailoring your ads to what consumers seek.
  • Fuel intent by adopting display remarketing and queries with higher intent.
  • Remarket to previously engaged audiences and customers for loyalty programs or cross‑selling.
  • Capture audience interest across maximum channels and touchpoints. This omnichannel approach will help optimize marketing spend and maximize return on investment.

The cricket season isn’t just about the game; it’s a cultural phenomenon that captivates millions. Marketers have the unique opportunity to harness this passion, connecting with audiences on a level that transcends advertising.

To know more about how you can harness the full power of Microsoft Advertising’s offerings in India, Southeast Asia, Middle East, Republic of Türkiye, and Latin America, reach out to our partners at InMobi.

[1] Economic Times and Mint.


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