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Sports Betting Brands Increase their Ad Spend

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The top sports gambling brands have massively increased their advertising budget in the last year. Figures released by a media intelligence platform show that the top sports betting brands have increased their ad spend by 82 percent since June 2020, splashing a huge $220 million on marketing. 

Experts say that the increased ad spend is partly due to delays in key sporting events caused by the pandemic, but another key factor is the relaxation of sports betting regulation in states like Connecticut. 

The advertising sector in the US is very concentrated. The ten largest brands account for 94 percent of the advertising spend, with more than 90 percent of the budget being spent on traditional media, despite the rise of online advertising. 

Football Attracts the Big Bucks in Advertising

Most of the money earmarked for advertising in the sports betting sector is spent on football, which dominates the schedules in the US. The National Football League is a professional league of 32 teams. The 18-week season starts in early September and ends in January. Winners then advance to the playoffs, which culminate in the Super Bowl held in early February.

The NFL Super Bowl is a huge event. A record 91 million people watched the 2021 Super Bowl, where the Tampa Bay Buccaneers triumphed against the Kansas City Chiefs. For advertisers, the Super Bowl is the Holy Grail. It’s one of the few sporting events where viewers will sit and watch the adverts, so big brands have fought to buy advertising space during this key event. 

The Super Bowl is the Holy Grail for Brands

The cost of a 30-second advertising spot during the Super Bowl isn’t cheap. Fox charges more than $5 million, even though viewing figures have fallen in recent years. This might sound like a poor investment, but brands know that a 30-second spot is only the icing on the cake. Super Bowl commercials are usually released well before the big game, online and offline, and are watched hundreds of millions of times before the game starts. 

Studies have proved that a favored advertising spot during the Super Bowl is a winner for brands. When drinks brand Budweiser bought a slot during the Super Bowl, they saw a return on advertising spend of 172 percent, earning an extra $96 million from the ad. That’s a pretty impressive return, so it’s no surprise that sports betting brands are keen to put their ads in front of a captive audience.  

Traditional Media Reigns Supreme

Online advertising works for some sectors, such as online casinos, but for many big brands, it isn’t as effective as traditional media channels. For example, being invited to check out this review on a gaming website will appeal to anyone searching for a great bonus or new slots game review, but drinks and car manufacturers are likely to see a better return on their ad spend by paying for a slot during a popular game. 

It isn’t just the Super Bowl that attracts the big-name advertisers. Other key sporting events are just as important for advertisers. The NHL final, while not as popular as the Super Bowl, still attracts a respectable three million viewers, and this year’s NBL finals were watched by close to 10 million people, a jump of 32 percent on the previous year. 

US sports fans are subjected to a lot of advertising while watching their favorite games. Research carried out in 2018 found that the average NFL fan would typically watch more than 24 hours of advertising during the season. Not every fan will sit and watch every commercial break, and some channels don’t include advertising, but nevertheless, TV is a huge channel for advertisers. 

ROI High for a Superbowl Spot

Data published by the Wall Street Journal found that advertising accounted for 32 percent of a three-hour NFL game, which equates to 63 minutes of commercials. Sports betting brands are not the only ones to see the value in advertising on traditional media channels; other sectors benefit too. From fast food to cars, American sports fans can expect to watch ads for all kinds of products while they catch up on the action during their weekly NFL game. 

It wasn’t always like this – before 1984, advertising during a sports game wasn’t really a thing. But the 1984 Super Bowl changed the face of sports advertising forever. An ad for Apple’s new Macintosh computer, which was directed by Ridley Scott, was nearly canned by Steve Jobs, who didn’t think anyone actually watched the Super Bowl. Of course, they did, and Apple’s Macintosh ad made history. 

Advertising during major sporting events does not guarantee success for a brand. Adverts have to be culturally relevant, but if a brand can find the sweet spot, they will reap the rewards.

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Mathias is a graduate student at the Newhouse School at Syracuse University. He is currently studying Broadcast and Digital Journalism on the Sports Media and Communications track. He graduated from The College of New Jersey in 2021, where he studied journalism and served as the Sports Editor and Opinions Editor for the school's newspaper, The Signal. He joined Overtime Heroics as a writer in June of 2019 and became an editor in December of 2020 before taking over the MLB department in June of 2021. Mathias is also a former varsity swimmer and is the youngest of five kids.