By Jonathan Rest at Sportel America


Supponor, the sports media and technology company, is to embark on a European roadshow to showcase its virtual advertising tool to top soccer leagues.

The company, along with its partner ADI Group, the LED screen and signage experts, will visit Germany, France, Switzerland and Spain, where it already has a long relationship with Mediapro, the sports rights agency.

The roadshow begins in Germany, in Hamburg on 21 March, with Wolfsburg, Hannover and Berlin next on the schedule. Supponor and ADI will be supported on their tour of Germany by the Lagardère Sports agency, which works with a number of Bundesliga clubs on sponsorship and pitchside advertising sales.

Supponor’s DBRLive technology, which enables dedicated billboard advertising to be shown to television audiences in different countries, generating extra revenues for the home club, has been used in Spain’s LaLiga and Italy’s Serie A for the past five seasons.

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. Supponor and Lagardère did work together on a DBRLive trial at the 2015 Telekom Cup, a pre-season exhibition soccer tournament in Germany.

At the beginning of this season, Supponor and ADI launched a Virtual Hybrid digiBoard, a technology that enables clubs to continue to use LED advertising to push their sponsors’ messages in-stadia during games, but also sell targeted advertising in markets around the world.

The technology has been refined over the past few months, with the product being tested on a non-commercial basis at Watford, of English soccer’s Premier League.

A number of leagues and national soccer federations across Europe have been to Watford’s home matches to view the technology in action, with Supponor and ADI now ready to go to market.

James Gambrell, chief executive of Supponor, told Sportcal: “We are having conversations with all the top European leagues.”

Philipp Hasenbein, managing director of Lagardère Sports Germany, said: “Global companies think globally. Previously untapped potential can be accessed with the new technology: sponsors cannot only steer their campaigns towards specific target groups and countries, the rights holders also offer additional international marketing opportunities.”

Supponor is 18 months into a new four-year contract with Mediapro, whereby it licenses the technology to the agency. It is deployed at the away games of matches of league giants Real Madrid and Barcelona. The rival clubs use LED advertising at their home stadiums, but Gambrell is hopeful the emergence of the Virtual Hybrid digiBoard system will ensure the technology is installed at the Bernabeu and the Nou Camp in future seasons.

Outside of European soccer, Gambrell said Supponor will target the major leagues in North America.

A test has already been carried out at an NFL International Series game in London, while the technology was used during ice hockey’s World Cup of Hockey in September. It allowed tournament sponsor Molson Coors, the Canadian beer brewer, to target its advertising in North America, with Molson (a relatively unknown brand in USA) visible in Canadian broadcasts, and likewise Coors used in the US broadcasts.

Conversations are also continuing with the NHL about rolling out the technology in regular season games.