Global Events with Global Audiences Require Local Approaches

Global Events with Global Audiences Require Local ApproachesThe following is an exclusive guest contributed post to MMW from Marco Veremis, CEO of Upstream.

While it’s not the Olympics, major world sporting tournaments like The Soccer World Cup connects nations from all over the world. No matter if fans are supporting the favourite or the underdog, getting behind their national team and the heroes donning the home jersey is emotionally consistent wherever you go.

Beyond this, the propensity for fan engagement has grown because of the technology available globally. Interest in major sports tournaments is no longer confined to the game being seen live, watched on TV, listened to on the radio or read about in the papers. Fans can indulge in so much more: up-to-date live news online, social media breaking the latest news live and remaining informed on updates no matter where they are over their mobile device.

It’s prompted a barrage of content from sponsors and non-sponsors, many of whom invest in bringing this sought after useful information to the anywhere consumer over mobile and tablet while benefitting from the added brand engagement it brings.

The mega bucks invested by brands in international tournaments embraces an opportunity to capture a global audience via a global event. Brands want to capitalize on the mobile revolution mentioned above and interact with the fans as they endlessly scroll through the fan content they are reading on their cell. But there is a challenge: the way consumers access their content over a phone in one part of the world can be typically very different in another.

This is especially the case for example where major US headquartered brands use a mobile strategy that would work well in the West but not in developing markets. This is born out of attempts to transpose the Apple model into these markets, where marketers expect consumers to access content on their cell phone by paying for it with their credit card to download apps that contain the content they’re looking for.

In developing markets, this is a major stumbling block given the low penetration of financial services (credit and debit cards) in regions such as sub-Saharan Africa. Data from the Worldbank shows that the US has a penetration of 72 percent whereas Nigeria has 19 percent and Ghana only 11 percent. For consumers without credit or debit cards, it’s not possible to readily access content through the Apple model that has become so prevalent in the West.

An opportunity exists instead for brands to work with mobile network operators to solve this problem. They have the power to disseminate this content direct to consumers who might own anything from a 0G to a 4G phone – brands then need not worry whether their audience can access the content or not. Working with operators also resolves the payment issue – brands can use their operator partnerships to bill for content via all you can eat subscription, freemium or pay as you go models.

For brands looking to reach the broadest range of consumers, content will not just mean apps. These will work in areas with high smartphone penetration, but for the majority of mobile phone users in developing markets, SMS based quizzes can be just as powerful in engaging high numbers of consumers.

Global sporting events provide a great opportunity for brands to piggy back on fan hype and provide content led services that position them well with target audiences. Mobile is playing a huge role in this but brands need to think carefully about how they make campaigns work for fans further afield as well as those closer to home.