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What US Open Attendance Can Teach Brands About Location Marketing

Where do the 700,000 tennis fans venturing out to Flushing Meadows, Queens go when they're not watching the action on the courts? xAd located them.

Being able to predict whether certain types of consumers will visit a brand’s business location based on their place-based patterns is something that geo-data has the potential to address.

In its analysis of the location affinities of the 700,000 people who attended the 2016 US Open Tennis Tournament, xAd was able to identify clear affinities among spectators and the marketers that had an advertising presence at the event. (See xAd’s infographic here.)

For example, attendees were 107 percent more likely to visit a location belonging to US Open sponsor Chase, though that was partially driven by regional presence. To a lesser, but still perceptible effect, other sponsors like Westin and Mercedes Benz also saw increases in visits to their respective locations, with US Open ticket-holders being 14- and 12 percent more likely to show up in the lead up to the tennis matches.

But as Sarah Ohle, xAd’s senior director, insights & innovation, notes, location intelligence can also uncover the potential connections that event attendees are likely to make when they’re doing other things during the time period when the matches were held at Arthur Ashe Stadium (in this case, from Aug. 29-Sept. 11).

“There is a broad range of marketers who could benefit from reaching people who are at the US Open — people who enjoy tennis, people are in the NY area, or even specific demographics associated with the event,” Ohle tells GeoMareketing. “So the implication of understanding foot traffic at the US Open for marketers goes far beyond just targeting at the tournament. In addition to targeting in the moment, location audience profiles allow marketers to reach a group of consumers with targeted messages at the right place and time.”

Among xAd’s findings from the US Open study:

  • Thursday, September 1st was the highest day for foot traffic to Arthur Ashe stadium — 73 percent higher than average daily visits and 103 percent higher than Match Day 1. This day featured big names such as Andy Murray, Serena & Venus Williams, and eventual champion Stan Wawrinka. The same players drew in crowds on the second highest day of attendance, Match Day 6.
  • Attendance dropped towards the end of the tournament when there are typically only 2-3 marquee matches per day verse the action packed start of US Open.
  • Attendance on Labor Day weekend was 36 percent higher than the tournament average, although Labor Day did see a slight dip with many fans who were likely celebrating the holiday elsewhere.
  • After the always popular Williams sisters exited the tournament, the Women’s Final saw a significant drop in foot traffic. Overall foot traffic throughout the tournament peaks around 3pm, once the crowds for the day session have all filled in.
Source: xAd
Source: xAd

Can One Event Provide Enough Scale?

The issue of scale is an obvious constant for marketers. And while nearly 1 million people is fairly large, marketers need to be able to reach them and others like them to make their campaigns effective.

Is there a sense that advertising during highly attended, high profile matches days versus more mundane, everyday moments, can matter to advertisers?

“There are various use cases for reaching consumers at sporting events,” Ohle says. “Stadiums and high profile events are where we see some of our largest scale at an individual location, mostly because you have a group of people in one places for an extended period of time, who are constantly on their phones.”

Sponsors may want to use mobile advertising to extend their general branding with more direct calls to action or other brands might want to create contextual messaging that will speak to consumers while they are attending an event, Ohle continues.

“The use case and scale extend far past the specific event, however,” she adds. “Based on past behaviors, we’re able to create behavioral audience profiles of “sports fans” for example, that can then be used by marketers trying to reach these types of consumers at any point.”

Time And Place Matter

Or, take the finding that at the 3pm hour, the US Open tended to experience higher than average foot traffic. Is that the most effective time to target attendees?

“Looking at things like time of day, which match days drew the biggest crowds, and where else these consumers visit are examples of the use of location insights in addition to ad targeting,” Ohle says. “Observing foot traffic and visitation behaviors gives a powerful view into consumer behaviors that can be used for marketing decisions. Beyond what people say they do, by examining foot traffic patterns marketers gain a real-life and real-time understanding of how and where consumers spend time. This type of visitation analysis offers marketers a deeper understanding of audiences, preferences and consumer lifestyle choices.”