LG, Castrol gain during cricket World Cup

MUMBAI: The association with the recently concluded Cricket World Cup has helped brands such LG, ESPN Star, Castrol and Yahoo score in the online world while others like Hero Honda and MoneyGram International have not gained much.

What drove the traffic, and perhaps business, is the way in which the brands leveraged the sponsorship and their online and offline marketing campaigns with the theme as cricket.

Cricket was the third most searched topic after Social Network and Games across all industry segments in the last week of the World Cup. Cricket as a search topic grew in popularity with the rising chances of India winning the Cup. Before the World Cup began, ‘Cricket‘ was not in the top five key searched topics.

During the World Cup, consumers wanted to be connected to the live action and hence ‘Live Score‘ was the most searched category within Cricket and ‘Live Streaming‘ the third most searched category. Visits to cricket sites went up sixfold.

Experian has released its report on the online consumer and marketing trends during the Cricket World Cup 2011, providing insights on the behaviour shown by netizens in India and their interface with different brand categories during the event.

Real time information and interactive features are two aspects which drive traffic. This is seen from the fact that people were looking for online cricket games, news, scores and live action.

Consumer interest in cricket lies in getting information, talking cricket, reading cricket, viewing cricket, playing cricket. It is seasonal and is related to the performance of the Indian cricket team. Information, the ways in which a consumer gets to the information, and interaction are key drivers for Online Marketing and SEM strategy.

One question is which of the (International Cricket Council) ICC‘s partners gained and who did not? ESPN Star, of course, gained as contests, live scores and live streaming of matches made it a hot site for cricket fans. Visit Share across all categories increased by more than 5000 per cent during the World Cup. The World Cup was the single most important sporting event driving traffic to the website of ESPN Star.

It had the highest visit share by a distance within its sub-industry category of ‘Television‘, from having the seventh highest share of visits before the World Cup. The sports channel website received 15 per cent of its entire traffic from cricket related websites and 37.84 per cent from cricket related search terms during the World Cup.

Before the World Cup started, ESPN Star received 3.5 per cent traffic from cricket related websites and 35.73 per cent from cricket related search terms. This allowed ESPN Star Sports to drive huge ad revenues which is evident from the increase in traffic from this website to many consumer brands.

Castrol gained through its dedicated site to information, live scores, contests created a lot of brand awareness for Castrol. It also gained from the fact that Sachin Tendulkar is a brand ambassador and is part of every advertisement.

Castrol adopted a different strategy from the rest and created a site only for cricket called Castrol Cricket. The site catered to what consumers on the Internet typically look for with regards to cricket - information, live scores and contests.

This became the fifth most popular site in terms of visit share amongst all sports websites and improving its visit share from being the 1583rd most visited site to 151st most visited site across all categories. 29.49 per cent of the traffic from search engines were people looking for scores and 10 per cent were netizens searching for live action

LG also gained a lot of traffic due to the World Cup association due to the promotions and campaigns it ran online and offline. Visit Share across all categories increased by 111 per cent during the World Cup. It had the highest visit share within its sub-industry category of ‘Electronics‘

The LG website received 7.5 per cent of its entire traffic from
cricket related websites and cricket related search terms during the World Cup. Before the World Cup started, LG received only 0.2 per cent traffic from cricket related websites and cricket related search terms.

Yahoo gained. The partnership with the event as the official website allowed its cricket website to be number one amongst all cricket related websites The visit share of all Yahoo websites is 11.27 per cent, second only to all Google websites.

Rich content, interactive features, blogs by experts, contests and promotions seems to have ensured the successful leverage of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011. Yahoo cricket is the largest beneficiary of traffic from Email Services when compared to espnstar, cricinfo, cricbuzz, castrolcricket, and cricketnext.

The Losers: Hero Honda, on the other hand, did not seem to have gained from the cricket World Cup since it did not have anything other than a tag claiming it to be a sponsor of the cricketing event. Visit Share across all categories increased by only three per cent during the World Cup. It had the fifth highest visit share within its sub-industry category of ‘Automotive Manufacturers‘, an improvement from seventh rank before the World Cup.

The Hero Honda website received 1.91 per cent of its entire traffic from cricket related websites and cricket related search terms during the World Cup. Before the world cup started, LG received only negligible traffic from cricket related websites and cricket related search terms.

Emirates also did not gain much. There was no cricket related content or contests or promotions could have been the reason. Visit share remained unaffected by the Cricket fever.

Since the World Cup began, the traffic to their website from cricket related websites has gone up by more than 5000 per cent. Moneygram International also did not gain. There was a dedicated website with a lot of interactive features failing to drive any traffic to the website. This could be due to the lack of consumer appeal of the service being offered and not a very impactful offline campaign.

Reliance, meanwhile, gained before the World Cup.The various business websites of the Reliance group such as Netconnect, mobiles, Digital TV gained a lot of traffic from cricket related website before the start of the World Cup and tapered down. The various business websites do not seem to have gained much from cricket since their visit shares have remained either constant or gradually increased over a period of time independent of the World Cup.

In terms of other trends, Experian notes that cricket as a search topic gained search share as the tournament progressed and may be linked to the increasing chances of the Indian Cricket Team finally winning the World Cup.

Social Networking and Online Gaming are more popular than any other activity and marketers basing their Internet marketing strategies on these sectors will benefit through the year. Indian consumers look at the Internet as a means to connect to friends, family and even strangers.

The need to connect with friends and family arises from the globally mobile Indian IT professionals and students who move out of their home towns for education and careers. Most of the net savvy population would have majority of their friends and family in various parts of the globe or country and would stay in touch with them through emails in the recent past and on social networking sites in the present Also in India, cricket is not so much about playing but about talking and discussing and social networking sites give them the opportunity to discuss with old buddies who are no longer in the neighborhood to catch up over a cup of tea for a post match analysis.

Cricinfo is the most visited website for getting updates on live scores and consumption of interesting and latest news around the World Cup. Castrol Cricket is the most visited brand website for consumption of cricket related news and scores after the top cricket information resource website ‘cricinfo‘. Castrol clearly drove their strategy by providing the information themselves.

Kyazoonga, the official ticketing partner to ICC World Cup, was the most visited ecommerce site for booking tickets. However, Clear Trip, an online travel agency, saw maximum gains from the cricket related search word for ticketing. Clear Trip clearly had the SEM strategy around cricket tickets and netizens seem to have preferred reaching an OTA for making their travel plans for cricket matches. Snap Deal is the most visited online couponing website from "cricket games" and "live cricket streaming" keyword themes.

Nokia India is the most visited handset manufacturer site from "ICC World Cup 2011" keyword theme. The above inferences indicates that brands must have used cricket related themes in their search engine marketing strategy to attract maximum eyeballs by being served at a high frequency.

The report also notes that Internet traffic to Cricket related
websites has peaks and troughs associated with tournaments of importance. Marketing campaigns looking to ride on the cricket fever find themselves with a very short time window and the growth of consumer interest in cricket is linked to the fortunes of the Indian cricket team. Hence a well planned strategy and a plan B for a non-performance by the Indian team are important to gain from the cricket hype.

ESPNStar has witnessed a surge in traffic from search engines from 19 March onwards till 2 April. Yahoo Cricket and espncricinfo are competing with each other to capture larger share of the search traffic in order to increase advertising inventory.

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