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Why the 2018 World Cup Is the First "Mobile World Cup"

Home » Blog » Why the 2018 World Cup Is the First "Mobile World Cup"
Posted by Anthony Karge on May 17, 2018
The 2018 World Cup in Russia is a mobile advertising big opportunity for advertisers and publishers.

Nearly half the world’s online population plans to watch the 2018 FIFA World Cup, but they won’t all be completely focused on their televisions. Instead, they’ll be using their mobile devices to make the most of this experience. Every four years when the World Cup comes around users become more engaged with their phones than ever before.

The 2014 World Cup in Brazil was called the “social media World Cup” after setting records in social media usage. The latest edition of the tournament has been dubbed the “mobile World Cup.” It’s the perfect description of what advertisers and publishers should expect when the games start in Russia on June 14.

Key Facts and Figures:

  • 47% of the world’s online population is expected to watch the 2018 World Cup. 55% of men and 37% of women say they'll watch.
  • 23% of likely 2018 World Cup viewers say they will use mobile phones to complement watching the games on TV. This figure doesn't include people that will be doing non-World Cup things on their phones during the game.
  • Digital ad spending, led by mobile advertising, surpassed television advertising back in 2016 and continues to outpace all other mediums.
  • Global mobile advertising spend is expected to rise 32% in 2018 – partly due to interest in the World Cup.

Social media will continue to play a huge part in the World Cup mobile experience, but apps that provide scores, live streams, and other relevant information can expect to see huge boosts. In 2014, for example, sports apps saw a 300% increase in usage during the games. That’s a bigger percentage increase than what social media apps saw during that same time period.

The top app categories in the World Cup are sports, news, and social.

However, it's not just sports apps that will see a boost in engagement during the World Cup. During the previous World Cup, there was a 144% increase in ad spending on news apps on the Smaato platform. Even dating apps saw much higher usage in host country Brazil during the tournament.

Make the Most of the World Cup

With in-app becoming even more important to users in the past four years, the 2018 World Cup is an enormous opportunity for advertisers and publishers. It’s a month-long occasion that generates strong interest from just about every region in the world. The closest thing that compares to the tournament is the Summer Olympics. However, the World Cup generates more global interest than the Super Bowl, Olympics, and Tour de France combined.

The Types of Mobile Ads Users Want to See During the World Cup 

Most Important

Least Important

Funny/Entertaining

From an official World Cup Sponsor

Features a relevant product

Features an athlete they like


For advertisers, it’s important to provide users with what they want to see. An international survey of likely World Cup 2014 watchers found that the mobile ads most likely to be paid attention to were fun or entertaining. It didn’t really matter to the audience whether the mobile ads came from an official World Cup Sponsor. These trends will likely hold in 2018, which opens the door for advertisers of all sizes to reach a broad audience.

The Winners of the World Cup

Publishers should be prepared to make the most of the World Cup experience. One interesting trend on the Smaato platform during the 2014 World Cup was just how engaged users from the countries of the top-performing teams were. The eight countries that made it to the countries finals saw total ad spending increase by a third. World Cup champion Germany saw a 78% increase in ad spending compared to similar time periods in the previous months.

Mobile advertising spend goes up in countries performing well in the World Cup.

As can be seen in the chart, those high ad spending numbers returned to normal levels following the tournament. For publishers, this trend highlights the need to know what's happening during the World Cup in order to optimize accordingly — doing so can lead to higher revenues and eCPMs.

The Game Plan

Even with the 2018 World Cup tournament soon underway, it's not too late to prepare to take advantage of the moment. Whether you're a publisher looking to optimize revenues or an advertiser hoping to reach an engaged audience, the World Cup is an opportunity like none other. Start planning now to make the most of the month-long tournament. The world won't just be watching TVs when the game is on they'll be looking at their phones.
 
Smaato has no official association or sponsorship in relationship with FIFA, the 2018 World Cup, a team,
or a player.

Written by Anthony Karge

Content Marketing Manager @ Smaato

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