From ballparks to soccer stadiums, traditional, static advertising is being replaced with green screens and electronic displays, giving advertisers more creative room and opening multiple revenue sources for venue operators.
The latest example of that trend is the English Football Association’s partnership with augmented reality company Supponor. According to Sports Video Group, at England’s World Cup warm-up against Costa Rica in Leeds on Jun. 7, Supponor provided virtual signage insertion. Spectators at Elland Road saw different LED banner ads scrolling on the barriers around the field than those watching at home. And even viewers of the broadcast feed saw different ads depending on their location and the devices they watched it on.
ITV, which holds the domestic television rights to English soccer, worked with Supponor and digital signage specialists ADI to implement the technology, which was installed at the Elland Road site last season. A UK sports production company, Interregional Sports Group, overlaid different virtual perimeter LED adverts on the real LED signs via two feeds, one for the Americas and the other for Europe and Asia.
With the reported success of the strategy in that World Cup warmup game, Supponor and the other stakeholders are looking to expand the technology’s footprint. Supponor has a deal with the German Bundesliga slated to begin next season.
The ability to feature different advertisements virtually on any number of feeds will allow—and perhaps force—brands to implement new strategies for targeted marketing. A major soccer venue can hold as many as 100,000 fans, but many more can watch on TV from anywhere in the world. Brands will be able to curate their messages for their audiences.
This affects stadium operators, sports teams, and media rights holders as well. When this technology reaches the U.S.—which seems inevitable—stadiums and the teams that play in them could have greater leverage to charge higher ad fees, citing advertisers’ increased ability to target fans. Brands that still want the rare permanent, static placement may have to fork over even higher premiums. And TV networks, which already sell ads based on regional factors could expand their ad sales even more with virtual ad replacement across their TV and mobile streaming feeds.