If you were in the stands for the last England game, you wouldn’t have noticed anything different about the advertising. The perimeter ads on display were the same as ever.
However, if you’d watched that football game on a live feed from, say, Australia, the ads presented to you would be different. Because why would someone in Australia need a service based in the UK?
This development, pioneered by The Football Association (UK governing body for the sport) and ITV (the broadcaster showing the match) could open up a new dimension in the lucrative world of sports advertising.
Virtual Replacement Technology used during the England v Costa Rica warm up match delivered virtually augmented regional specific ads on a feed going to Australia, and another on a feed going to Asia, Australasia, and parts of Europe. In other words, they superimposed ads more suited to those regions over the existing perimeter ads using augmented reality.
That’s a win-win situation: the adverts are more relevant to the viewers; and the people selling ad-space are able, effectively, to sell the same space multiple times.
Tom Gracey, the FA’s senior broadcast manager, made the following comment: “The potential for Virtual Replacement Technology is substantial. Perimeter LED displays have become a fundamental platform for activating brand partnerships in sport, so the ability to change that message to make it relevant for different fans around the world is hugely appealing for us and our partners. We were delighted to be able to collaborate with various stakeholders in order to deploy it on this occasion.”
James Gambrell, CEO of Supponor, which was responsible for the technology, added that it had the potential to roll out over other regions too, saying that it would be active in Germany’s Bundesliga “as of next season.”
Football is a big game. Worldwide, it’s thought to be worth as much as €400 billion, and it’s more popular than any other sport by a long way (the second most popular sport, cricket, has a full billion fewer fans).
Those are figures that no advertiser can ignore. The potential for better targeted ads, and the intermingling of offline and online worlds through augmented reality, could make the game even more valuable to the many businesses looking to speak to football’s 3.5 billion fans.