March Madness a Mobile Moment

millennialmedia-ncaa-basketball-mobile-april2012.jpgThe NCAA basketball tournament experience was a mobile one this year for many consumers, finds Millennial Media [download page] in its latest Scorecard for Mobile Advertising Reach and Targeting (SMART) report. Partnering with the IAB to commission a Harris Interactive survey of more than 2,000 US adults, the report finds that 88% of self-identified passionate fans used their mobile devices for an NCAA tournament-related activity and that 40% specifically purchased an application related to the tournament. Among device owners who followed the tournament, the leading activities were to check scores (48%), read news about teams and players (25%), check brackets (23%), and watch game highlights (20%).

First Day Sees Spike in Mobile Traffic

Data from the SMART report indicates that on the first day of the tournament, sports applications on the Millennial Media network saw a 31% week-over-week increase in impressions, with impressions rising 158% during the 5 PM-7 PM time slot. In addition, social media apps saw a 42% week-over-week impression increase during prime time games (7 PM-11 PM) on the first day.

March data from comScore paints a similar picture. According to that study, which analyzed computer versus non-computer traffic for the first day of tournament action, nearly double the percentage of sports category content was consumed on non-computer devices as other content categories (20.6% vs. 10.4%). Overall, total sports-related traffic jumped 79% on that first Thursday compared to the average of the 3 previous Thursdays, while total traffic to other web content declined 2%. Tablets experienced the highest growth in sports content consumption (94%), followed by smartphones (83%) and computer traffic (77%).

Convenience a Top Factor

Details from the SMART report show that convenience was a major factor in the consumption of tournament content on mobiles. 69% of consumers following the tournament said that having a mobile device allowed them to access content conveniently, a proportion which rose to 78% among passionate fans.

Other Findings:

  • Roughly one-quarter of passionate fans (who identified themselves as being passionate because their favorite team was playing) followed the tournament primarily by using their smartphones.
  • 69% of consumers watching the tournament on TV used their mobile device while watching.