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networked-investment-mar-2011.JPGRather than focus on expensive and limited TV advertising inventory, advertisers should consider focusing on potentially free and limitless online advertising inventory for NCAA men’s basketball tournament-related campaigns, according to Networked Insights. In particular, data from “March Madness: A Slam Dunk” indicates associating ads with online content relating to upsets (games where a higher-ranked team unexpectedly loses to a lower-ranked team) can be highly effective at generating impressions.

Social Media Offers Free Opportunity

For example, one Networked Insights client placed content in free online venues such as social media networks associated with the 30 biggest upsets of the tournament to date. These produced about 9.9 million online impressions, and 875.6 million social impressions, at no cost.

In addition, the client paid to place content such as interstitial ads that appear when someone goes to YouTube to check upset-related videos or searches for upset-related terms on Google. These paid ads generated about 198.4 million paid impressions, at a cost of $2.25 million, or $11.34 average CPM (cost per thousand views).

Combining all paid and free online and social impressions, the client achieved close to 1.1 billion impressions with a cumulative average CPM of $2.08.

Social Media Loves an Upset

networked-social-mar-2011.JPGNetworked Insights provides a specific example of how social media traffic relating to certain teams in the 2011 March Madness tournament has spiked when they were involved in upsetting a higher-ranked team. While social media traffic relating to ninth-seeded Northern Iowa mildly increased when it beat eighth-seeded UNLV on March 19, 2011, its much more surprising victory over first-seeded Kansas two days later provided a monumental jump in social media traffic that actually peaked a couple of days later.

Big Upsets Have Prime Online Audience

Networked Insights analysis shows that the typical online audience for content relating to major March Madness upsets is a demographic highly desirable to many advertisers. The average online audience for big upsets is professional males age 18-54 with a high school degree and average yearly income between $25,000 and $150,000. They follow sports on TV and the web, especially relating to their home cities, states and alma maters; connect with friends online to discuss the tournament, fill out two to three March Madness betting pool brackets, and may call in sick the first day of the tournament to follow it at home.

Duke Favorite Men’s College Hoop Team

The Duke University Blue Devils were the victim of an upset themselves in this year’s March Madness tournament, but are the favorite US men’s college basketball team for the second straight year, according to results of a recent Harris Poll. Duke was also ranked #1 in 2008, with current #2 UNC tying for first last year and coming in first in 2009 and second in 2008.

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