How women’s sports can help your brand go from the sidelines to the spotlight

Jo-Ann Foo
By Jo-Ann Foo | 6 September 2023
Jo-Ann Foo

Jo-Ann Foo, Senior Director of Analytic Partners

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you might have noticed that women's sports are having their moment in the spotlight.

Despite the Matildas’ devastating loss to the Lionesses in the World Cup semi-final, the entire journey we’ve all seen for the past few weeks (and even the months leading up to the event) have made clear that women’s sports have entered a new era. And that’s just soccer - the triumph of the Diamonds as the Netball World Cup is another sign that there is clear talent in areas that are only just getting the recognition they deserve.

The undeniable surge in popularity for these sports is a departure from the past. Women’s sports have been historically underinvested in. The Seven Network reportedly only bought the rights to broadcast the FIFA Women’s World Cup for under $5 million. You could say this is quite the bargain, given the Matildas’ games have significantly smashed viewership records.

This prompts crucial questions all advertisers should be asking themselves. Women’s sports is having a moment - but how certain can the industry be that this is a shift in the landscape rather than a brief moment?

And if brands do decide to invest in women’s sports for the long-term, how best can they navigate what is relatively a new world?

This is where we need to turn to what marketing research and insights can tell us. We all want this to be more than a brief moment of glory, but that means planning and preparing on how best to leverage the popularity of the past few weeks, and transition that into long-term gain.

First things first - if we truly take an analytical approach to the question of women’s sports, the data would tell us that the channel is currently on the “steep” part of the yield curve - ie., right before the returns flatten. This indicates that ultimately, women’s sports may not hold as much total returns as that of men’s sports. However, that’s not to say that the value of investing at this moment isn’t worth it - because the data suggests it certainly is.

Based on insights gathered from Analytic Partners’ ROI Genome, we’ve discovered that investment in women’s sporting properties delivers at least as good a return on the male equivalent competition. And in many instances, women’s sport has delivered a 2-3x better return on investment.

This is a massive boon for advertisers, proving that women’s sports do deliver good value for money, and at least an indication that they should think about diversifying into this field over coming months. While right now the focus is on soccer, there is the AFLW, Super Netball and International Netball to consider as potential new avenues for advertisers looking to get good value for money.

Women’s sports also have the benefit of being less cluttered than male. You would be competing against less competitors and, as such, allowing for more creativity and experimentation. It is also a chance to help campaigns receive higher cut-through and visibility than they would otherwise get.

Women’s sports also appeal to more than just women. Our data even suggests there are returns across a broad population of the audience, meaning there’s an opportunity to reach a greater number of people.

The World Cup is an incredible example of this. We have seen over past weeks just how far the appeal of women’s sports can go - it was a rare chance to reach a wider demographic at a moment of high attention. As far as engaging audiences go, this was nearly an unparalleled opportunity.

Major events like this can deliver remarkable results. And whilst they can come with a hefty price tag, there's a sweet spot where your budget meets broad reach, making sure your message reaches the right fans without breaking the bank.

For advertisers seeking a more accessible entry point into women's sports advertising, it's crucial to pick a competition or event that reaches more people without exceeding your budget. Media activities surrounding these events often offer the best value, while sponsorship can be equally rewarding if leveraged and amplified effectively.

On average, we’ve found that combining integrations with sponsorships can boost your ROI by an extra 30%. So if you do choose to go down the sponsorship route, there are certainly gains to be had, although ensuring you leverage and amplify what you’ve invested in is key.

While the Women's World Cup represents a once-in-many-years opportunity, the true brilliance of women's sports lies beyond this iconic tournament. For example, Australia’s soccer domestic league, the A-League, has recently announced a slew of changes to Liberty A-League, the women’s competition, which will see the league become more competitive and in line with global benchmarks.

This is a sign of how advertisers don’t have to wait for major tournaments like World Cups for investment - there are opportunities right on the ground, and this announcement shows that there is most likely more to come.

So if there was ever a time to make a bold statement by championing women's sports, it’s now. Let the data be your guide, look proactively to secure new opportunities, and become a part of history in the making.

Source: ROI Genome, Analytic Partners

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