Sweet Spot: What The Cricket World Cup Could Mean for Advertisers

Advertisers are searching for creative, innovative, and effective ways to leverage one of the largest global sporting events.

In this exclusive byline, Amir Sharer, founder & CEO of BRAVE, outlines the opportunities the ICC World Cup presents to marketers, the untapped potential of live sports events, and how advertisers can engage fans beyond the pitch.

Taking place in India this October, excitement for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2023 is building. With 10 countries competing to dethrone England as the reigning world champions, the tournament is expected to attract over 600 million of the most passionate viewers from around the world. 

Comparable only to the FIFA World Cup, the Olympics Games, and Le Mans, the Cricket World Cup pulls in audiences from a wide variety of countries including India, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka, even stretching across Australia, South Africa, the US, Canada, the UAE, and dozens more, creating a priceless opportunity to tap into English-speaking audiences from around the world.

Sports events: where advertisers should be looking

The global advertising industry has grown to a whopping USD$874.5bn (~£692.8bn), with an annual growth rate of nearly 5.5%, and is expected to exceed USD$1trn (~£796.5bn) by 2026. As the industry expands, advertisers are increasingly seeking opportunities to target segments with the highest intent, quality, and lifetime value in their audiences.

Advertisers have learned that campaigns yielding high conversion often utilise unique events, enabling them to mobilise a strong presence of passion and cultural belonging in their favour. With this in mind, sports events are emerging as some of the most promising advertising environments in modern marketing.

A closer look: what makes sports special?

The global sports events market is projected to hit nearly USD$32bn (~£25.3bn) in revenue by the end of the year, and it thrives solely on unique, big-time events that bring people together. Giving people a chance to experience the height of enthusiasm in its purest form, sports events harbour genuine, community-driven passion that inspires lifelong loyalty, often passed down generationally, combined with a fiery, competitive spirit.

“Sports fans look to emulate a closer, fuller experience of their teams. Commonly purchasing their merchandise and virtual goods, they demonstrate a unique willingness to spend money – a key indication of a quality audience with a high likelihood of converting”, says Amir Sharer, founder and CEO of Brave, a transparency-driven programmatic platform that helps advertisers connect with their audiences.

Crucially, sports events are live-streamed, placing them amongst the few remaining environments that can capitalise on real-time attention. These factors place sports events in a category of their own, offering advertisers a combination of unique and powerful characteristics within a single opportunity.

The Indian sports events market and the Cricket World Cup

Amir Sharer, founder & CEO, BRAVE

Growing particularly fast, India’s sports events market will be close to USD$1bn (~£792m) this year, doubling from 2021. Having caught the world’s attention, the market has experienced a 10% growth in revenue in 2023, with an expected CAGR of 4.04% through 2027. This outpaces the global market, which stands at 7.8% revenue growth and a CAGR of 3.91%. With steady year-over-year growth since 2017, its trends show both stability and the potential for explosive bursts.

Leading the market is cricket, a sport so beloved that the heated rivalry between India and Pakistan has repeatedly drawn record-breaking views – notably, the 2015 and 2019 tournaments amassed hundreds of millions of unique views, among their respective audiences of over a billion. With a history of attracting an astonishing volume of excited viewers and inspiring unparalleled national patriotism, the Cricket World Cup 2023 has the potential to break all the previous records.

Offering centre-stage exposure to a massive, engaged, and highly passionate audience that’s demonstrated willingness to make purchases, the Cricket World Cup presents an unmissable opportunity for advertisers. Any brands looking to create brand awareness with English-speaking audiences in India, Pakistan, or further afield are anxiously preparing campaigns.

But everything comes with a price

With this irresistible opportunity, however, comes an obstacle: it’s expensive. To be telecast on Disney Star and its OTT platform Hotstar, ad rates for the World Cup are facing a 30-40% increase from the previous tournament, making it less accessible for many advertisers. Industry sources have outlined the challenge of filling inventory compared to previous World Cups, with ad rates up 12-17% on the 2019 tournament, in addition to a sharp 40-50% climb for mobile OTT CPMs on Hotstar. Despite the strong interest, many brands will struggle to afford current rates and must think twice before launching their campaigns.

So, what will advertisers do? Give up on the golden opportunity? No chance. 

Ahead of the game as always, modern advertisers know that the World Cup itself is not the only way to target cricket lovers: alternative mediums can provide exposure to the cricket lovers who are most invested in their teams and most willing to click through when viewing ads. Let’s take a look at an example.

The latest cricket app: Captain Cool Cricket

Developed by Brave’s mobile studio, Captain Cool Cricket offers advertisers the innovative approach they’re looking for. Available for both iOS and Android, the mobile app is where users can enjoy their favourite sport in parallel to the World Cup itself. Allowing users to build and train their own teams of cricket players, the app’s purpose is to play matches against opponents and rise in ranking. Earning points and unlocking higher-level players as they progress, users are incentivised to advance in order to perform better and win more matches, creating a cycle that feeds itself with gameplay. Users are also given the option to purchase unlockable players directly instead of earning them, through which they demonstrate a willingness to make in-app purchases.

However, there’s also a third option: displaying advertisements in-game, rewarding users who are willing to watch ads with unlockable players. This presents a terrific environment for advertisers, with the game allowing them to maintain effective CPMs while targeting a multi-national, cricket-loving audience (particularly in India and Pakistan), who will undoubtedly be following the Cricket World Cup. 

“Advertisers need an affordable channel for engaging cricket lovers during the World Cup. We’re bringing them what we believe is the most cost-effective strategy to advertise, providing access to cricket enthusiasts who are incentivised to watch ads,” continues Sharer. 

“In such a fast-changing market, companies need to capitalise on creative opportunities that enable them to accomplish the same goals in new ways.”

Even more so, advertisers can gain greater access to this audience because inventory isn’t limited to the finite constraints of the World Cup itself; users are free to play as much as they please, whenever they’d like. Furthermore, companies like Brave offer cricket inventory packages year round, providing direct access to lovers of the sport from around the world long after the tournament ends.

A new era in digital marketing

Mobile apps such as Captain Cool Cricket are one of many examples of how advertisers are beginning to ditch traditional, more costly methods of advertising. In this new era, in-game advertising enables advertisers to leverage dynamic programmatic methods that utilise data and advanced targeting techniques while displaying contextual ads in settings that increase their conversion probability. Within the context of the Cricket World Cup, this brings advertisers targeting cricket lovers into the new age of digital marketing.

Interested in learning about Brave’s Cricket Inventory Package? We’d love to hear from you at support@thebrave.io.