For billions of people around the world, football is much more than a game. Every four years, football fans are more engaged than ever as they tune in to the one-and-only FIFA World Cup™, the international world championship. And this year during a time like never before. 

In 2022, the World Cup will take place in Qatar, the first ever in the Arab world. Thanks to the sweltering hot climate, the games are scheduled much later in the year, during the cooler November to December period. It’s definitely a year of “firsts” for the World Cup, and we’re talking audience size too: FIFA president Gianni Infantino predicts that 5 billion people will watch the Qatar 2022 games, the highest ever viewership in history.

For marketers, the World Cup sport event is an opportunity too good to let go. And smart marketers will take advantage. Here’s what you need to know about audience behaviors and trends among football fans, and how they can connect to your brand:

1. Football viewers are an engaged audience 

With the championship taking place in Qatar during winter, studies suggest football fans are more than twice as likely to watch the games from the comfort of their homes.

This translates to more time spent online for football enthusiasts, as they search for and discover content about the most recent team lineups, commentary, trends, interviews and gossip relating to the World Cup – often while they are watching the games. And when it comes to choosing their online sources, our football consumption study with CensusWide shows that credible and reliable sources, such as premium news sites, are most likely to be chosen. The rise in audience traffic on news, sports and entertainment sites on the open web during the World Cup tournament makes it a fantastic opportunity for your brand to engage with fans. 

2. Football fans like to multi-task

While the biggest football enthusiasts may be glued to their TV screen or device watching the game, others are actively multi-tasking. According to Nielsen’s world football report, 69% of football fans are likely to order food delivery while watching; 67% might also check their email; and 60% are interested in playing online games. Moreover, 42% are interested in live-betting, and in nations like Australia, France, and the United States, that percentage rises closer to 50%. 

Such insights present a great opportunity for brands to seize their moment by connecting with these different fan profiles, and generate app downloads or home delivery orders.

3. The World Cup audience is a global audience 

Perhaps with the exception of the Olympic Games or a royal wedding, no event can claim audience attention at the level of the World Cup. A Global Web Index report focusing on sports around the world revealed impressive numbers for online or TV viewership of football games: 55% in Europe, 52% in Asia, 72% in Latin America and 72% in the Middle East and Africa. 

Those audiences consume additional sports content that may be related or unrelated to the event itself. For example, the UEFA finals  – Europe’s top football championship event – saw 33% growth in the Football category on the Outbrain platform, beginning 9 weeks before the event and reaching its peak two weeks prior to the finals and took 2 weeks to get back to normal. This is a good indicator of what is to come this November.  

4. Football audiences are big consumers 

Football fans love to shop, and the timing of the World Cup this year could not be more perfect for marketers. With the championship taking place in November, it’s closely timed around Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Cyber Week and Thanksgiving, with Christmas following shortly after.  

Engaged fans shop for themselves and for their family members and friends. A global fan report from the Football Collective shows that 1 in 3 fans plan to invest in additional tech to enhance their home viewing experience and 69% are likely to order food while watching. Meanwhile, 40% of football fans plan to purchase Christmas gifts early this year. Football fans are known for how excited they get, and this definitely extends to their enthusiasm for shopping. Marketers, take note!

5. Football audiences are approachable  

Football fans are open to new experiences. So what’s the real challenge for brands? Getting in front of those fans. Our study with Censuswide shows that users spend 2.5x the time on independent websites for sports information compared to social media. Since football fans will be consuming loads of content on the open web during the championship, native ad networks like Outbrain offer a great solution to connect those consumers with your brand on the sites they visit with non-intrusive recommendations.

Matching unforgettable moments from the World Cup with those of your brand will drive conversation and sales, while making your brand a part of the great football story of 2022. Loyal fans of the game become loyal fans of the brand that celebrated with them.

Celebrate Your Football-themed Campaign Results 

The holiday season is the cherry on the cake when it comes to your Q4 advertising strategy and the year-end’s game. Your holiday season marketing strategy is not complete without taking the biggest international football event into account. Let Outbrain native advertising kick most of the goals in your brand’s success this golden quarter!

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