By Simon Ward at Soccerex



Control of rights is key to the deal LaLiga has agreed to sell regionalised advertising across the world on perimeter boards, according to a senior executive from the top Spanish soccer league.

This is the fifth season in which brands have been able to buy advertising at LaLiga matches for particular markets using the innovative DBRLive technology developed by UK-based company Supponor.

The technology enables specific brands to be promoted in billboard advertising aimed at television audiences in different countries, generating extra revenues for the home club.

Ahead of the 2015-16 season, Supponor agreed a new two-year deal with Mediapro, the sports rights agency that is LaLiga’s partner, to continue providing targeted pitch-side digital advertising.

The advertising presently features in the away fixtures of LaLiga giants Barcelona and Real Madrid and selected away games of the league’s third major power Atletico Madrid.

Barcelona and Real Madrid retain control of perimeter board advertising at their home games, but Adolfo Barra, LaLiga’s managing director, sales and marketing, claims that the fact that the league retains rights at all the other grounds is a vital part of the offering.

Speaking on a panel at the Soccerex Global Convention in Manchester yesterday, Barra said: “You need to control [rights across] the league. Here, in England, if clubs manage their own LED inventory, you have to make sure that they speak to each other and agree to do a deal, and that’s difficult. In our case, because we control, through Mediapro, 18 of the 20 clubs’ LED inventory we can manage it.”

The digital pitchside advertising rights form part of the centralised marketing structure created by LaLiga and Mediapro at the end of 2014, with separate packages available in feeds for: Spain; the global audience; Europe; China; the rest of Asia; the Middle East and North Africa; and USA.

Last October, Supponor announced the ‘breakthrough’ launch of digiBoard DBR, a combination of existing technologies, with ADI Group, the LED screen and signage experts, for the 2016-17 season.

DBRLive has been in use in Spain and Italy for the past few seasons, but take-up of the technology has been held up in Germany and England as it could only be superimposed on static advertising boards, and not on LED boards, which are used widely in the Bundesliga and Premier League.

Barra claimed that LaLiga’s next goal is to take on more responsibility for the selling of digital pitchside advertising.

He said that at the moment “it’s a good combination. Some we sell, for example in China we retain the inventory to sell to sponsors, in some [other] countries we sell directly and in others we sell through third parties.

“Our challenge in two or three years’ time is to control most of that inventory through LaLiga. To grow your sponsors nationally and regionally, you need to be able to deliver the content. We will retain as much as we can.”

Activating with Santander LaLiga is also in the process of developing a digital hub in partnership with Santander, the Spanish bank, which recently signed a three-year title sponsorship deal for the top two divisions.

The league was set to ditch its title sponsorship model after the expiry of the previous agreement with rival bank BBVA, only to conclude a new three-year, €60-million ($67-million) contract with Santander in July.

However, Barra claimed that the financial contribution was only one aspect of the partnership, saying: “It was not about title or non-title, but it was about who was the sponsor. We had different brands approaching LaLiga from different territories, and we didn’t think they fitted with our project.

“We wanted to find a proper brand, a good name, a good image, that will help us grow and the key thing for us was not how much money they paid LaLiga, but how much they will activate our relationship. It’s important that they’re very strong in Latin America, which is a strong market for LaLiga, and very strong in Europe, and we want to use their platforms to carry the message of LaLiga to the supporters.”

He added: “It’s very difficult to find a truly global brand, there are very few, and if they [Santander] were very strong in Asia, that would be even better for us. But the way we’ve done the agreement is to use their key support in the territories in which they are present, like Latin America, the US and Europe, and in south east Asia we will look for other partners to support LaLiga activities.”

On the initial priorities, Barra said: “Our biggest challenge with Santander is to activate supporters. They are a big corporation, they have more than 100 million customers, and we’re working together on strategies on how to tackle those people with our partnership.

“We’re different to other leagues. When we sold the TV rights [collectively for the first time] we kept the marketing rights on our side and we’re working together [with Santander] in building a strong digital hub where we want to put a lot of different content relevant for fans not only in Spain, but in Latin America, Europe and the US, and to try and engage with as many of those as possible.”

Felipe Martin Martin, the marketing director of Santander in Spain, added: “The digital hub will be the key for the strategy and activation and we are trying to develop the apps and all the social media so we can manage everything and hope that at the beginning of next year we’ll have everything ready to launch.”

He added: “We have a very good sponsorship package, with media, with the VIP experience, with a lot of things. We have to focus on clients, and we have enough assets to manage that in Spain, but also across the world.”