BT Sports increased investment in YouTube puts them in touch with an audience of 9m highly qualified sports fans

December 2016

BT Sport build on the success of their Champions League final live-stream to target personalised advertising at unprecedented scale.

As the UK’s exclusive UEFA Champions League and Europa League broadcaster, BT Sport hold two of the crown jewels of televised football. In 2014 the brand invested almost £1bn to acquire the rights. While hardcore football fans were already used to the idea of paying for televised games, convincing casual viewers to switch to BT Sport presented a significant challenge, both to customer acquisition targets, and to popular perceptions of the brand. Having already agreed to broadcast the finals of both competitions on their Freeview channel, BT Sport Showcase, BT Sport started looking for innovative ways to expand the reach of their coverage and increase consideration among potential subscribers.

The Live-Stream

At the heart of the brand’s strategy for the finals of both competitions was a live-streaming partnership with YouTube. The aim of the live-stream was to bring in a complementary audience, including younger demographics and viewers on connected devices. BT Sport promoted the broadcast in a variety of ways, including a YouTube Masthead takeover on the day of the finals featuring an embedded stream, and a variety of momentum-building PR and social media activity across YouTube, Facebook, Snapchat and Twitter. All of this contributed to the Champions League Final achieving the biggest UK live-stream audience to date. Between TV and YouTube, BT Sport drove over 12m views across the Champions League and Europa League finals. This included 2.8m views across YouTube and BT’s other digital platforms, and an average online viewing duration of 29 minutes.

The Campaign

The next phase of the campaign involved identifying potential customers from the millions who viewed the live-streams and on-demand content. BT Sport were able to de-duplicate YouTube viewers against their existing subscriber base, resulting in the creation of a highly qualified audience pool which they then targeted using personalised content delivered through video and display advertising.

For their video campaign, ‘Four Competitions, One Venue’, a TrueView hero ad was created, highlighting the content available across all of BT Sport’s channels, along with twenty individual club montage videos which gave fans a taste of the season ahead. Beyond this, the brand also looked for ways to engage the YouTube community directly through #GoalsRecreated, which saw stars such as Harry Kane and Riyad Mahrez encouraging fans to submit their own video recreations of the best goals of the season.

The Results

With the two finals attracting a big audience, BT Sport were able to then pursue a hugely ambitious and effective prospect identification strategy. Display re-targeting of the live-stream audience was 111% more responsive in CTR than their standard re-marketing lists, while the cost-per-click of re-targeting this audience was 69% cheaper than benchmark activity running across the same period.

“We fully expect video consumption to continue increasing, so YouTube will continue to provide increasingly attractive opportunities.”

The YouTube TrueView remarketing campaign delivered 8.3m impressions to the target audience, helping the campaign achieve an ad recall uplift of 52% and consideration uplift of 23%. Encouraged by their ability to present personalised content to an audience of highly qualified viewers, BT Sport subsequently increased their YouTube investment by 300% for the 2016/2017 season, and adjusted their media mix significantly to bring a greater proportion of their budget to YouTube. Through an integrated Google Preferred, TrueView In Stream and TrueView Discovery campaign, BT ultimately reached over 9m UK Sports fans on YouTube. Looking towards the current and future seasons, David Stratton, GM of Marketing at BT TV and BT Sport, is in no doubt as to YouTube’s place in the brand’s strategy: “YouTube’s targeting capabilities allowed us to deliver the most relevant content to our key segments, minimising wastage and helping produce a highly efficient and engaging campaign. We fully expect video consumption to continue increasing, so YouTube will continue to provide increasingly attractive opportunities.”

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