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Harness the power of sporting events with the Microsoft Audience Network

December 13, 2023
Two people smiling and celebrating in a sports venue.

Sporting events offer advertisers an unparalleled opportunity to connect with passionate audiences. In fact, every year, hundreds of millions of avid fans attend events in person or tune in from home for the big game. Read on to learn how you can target those fans with Microsoft Advertising.

31% of the US population watches live sports content digitally at least once per month. Over half of UK respondents say they watch live sporting events at least once per month.1

It can be a challenge to know where to start. Advertising dollars can be disjointed, sports sponsorship teams can be disconnected from the media team, and full-funnel media plans suffer as a result.

So, how can advertisers make the most of the sports fanbase? Microsoft Advertising offers a unique opportunity for synergy across the media funnel—from CTV to Paid Search, all in one platform.

Massive stages like the Super Bowl aren’t the only chance advertisers have to connect to this valuable audience—especially with 77% of the US population simultaneously using the internet while watching TV. Rather, advertisers should be thinking about sports as a year-round opportunity to achieve their goals.

Sporting events calendar for 2024.

Should I be interested?

Which advertisers should leverage this opportunity? The short answer: everyone.

  • The MVPs: Advertisers who offer products integral to the sports experience—for example, brands like YETI, Gatorade, and Nike. Anything associated with attending a game, tailgating, or watching from the cozy confines of home is fair game.
  • The Veterans: Advertisers with existing sports sponsorships. Brands spanning Retail, Financial Services, Technology, Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG), Autos, and Travel are typically eager (and generally pay top dollar) to align themselves with the world of sports. Although sponsorships increase purchase likelihood by a commendable 10%, in-game advertising can also be in the periphery of the fan’s focus during the game.
  • The New kids on the block: Advertisers interested in harnessing the power and scale of the sports audience. An uncommon hero, a consumer-packaged goods condiment client aligned with the big game last year and saw that users exposed to their ads were 4.2x more likely to visit the brand website and 5.7x more likely to visit their brand page on retailer sites post-exposure.

The Sports audience on the Microsoft Network is 51% male, 26% between the ages of 35-49, and 37% have a household income in the top 25%.2

Who’s the audience?

Now that we’ve covered the advertiser opportunity, let’s meet our target audience, the diverse crowd that makes sports arenas come alive:

  • The Enthusiasts: This group plans their day around the game, and nothing else matters while their team is playing. Reach them through Genre targeting and Microsoft’s Audience Network as they check MSN Sports for scores.
  • The Tailgaters: These folks stock their cars and prepare for a full day, soaking in the entire game-day experience. Consider targeting in-market audiences focused on Sports Tickets, Sports, and Camping & Hiking Equipment to capture this group.
  • The Game Hosts: The gracious hosts elevate their game-watching experience with food, drinks, and friends, whether at home or the local bar. Utilize in-market audience targeting focused on Home & Garden, Food and Grocery Delivery & Takeout interest groups.
  • The Forced Fan: Perhaps reluctant, families, supportive partners, or those just “here for the commercials” make up this group who often claim they’re “having a great time.” Amplify existing remarketing lists and in-market audiences support across the full suite of Microsoft products.

To fully capitalize on these audiences, speak to the crowd in a relevant context. Connecting your brand to these four mindsets through advertising imagery and language is crucial for making a connection. For example, a retailer could spotlight a clear purse for Forced Fans headed to a game who may be unaware of the stadium bag rules.

How can I reach them?

Microsoft offers a full-funnel media solution to engage even the most reluctant fans.

  • Connected TV: Reach your audience on smart TVs and connected devices while they indulge in watching games or other media.
  • Online video: Engage today’s multi-tasking audience across desktops, tablets, and mobiles as they browse video content across premium publishers on the web. Take advantage of video formats that speak to fans differently.
  • Image/Display ads: Incorporate visual context around tailgating or hosting into your ads to speak to fans in a more relevant way.
  • Product ads: Leverage existing Shopping feed to surface the most relevant products to Sports fans.
  • Search ads: Close the loop and capture Sports Fan searchers specifically looking for your products.

Here’s the playbook for clients and agencies to win

  • Create synergies across internal partner teams for future use: Unlock cross-functional visibility and develop process for optimal activation.
  • No need to create new content: Microsoft Advertising can leverage video/image content made for TV, social media, and more.
  • Amplify your sports connection: An existing sponsorship means your advertiser already sees value in sports alignment. Use Microsoft Advertising to compound that impact.
  • Work with one platform: Launch full-funnel activations within the Microsoft Advertising Platform and reduce the number of partners you need to onboard.
  • Leverage transparent reporting: Microsoft Advertising shares website URL detailing where your ads are serving and offers the ability to opt out via website exclusions.

Ready to get in the game? Reach out to your Microsoft Account team for more details.

[1] Insider Intelligence | eMarketer, March 2023, Statista, April 2021.
[2] Microsoft Advertising Data, GlobalWebIndex Global Q2 2022.


  • Megan Barnicle


    Megan Barnicle

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