A Renewed Opportunity
March Madness, however, offers unique chances for brands to capitalize on a variety of audiences, cultural moments and methods of viewing.
Nearly one third of Americans planned to watch at least one game during March Madness, and many don’t watch via linear television, instead tuning in via streaming services. In 2021, viewers streamed over a billion minutes in just the first two days of the tournament. This opens the door for more platforms and nuanced approaches that align with best practices for each one. And viewership in 2022 quickly saw double-digit gains—for both the men’s and women’s tournaments.
Ad inventory for the 2022 tournament sold out despite rates increasing, which shows that more advertisers are catching the trend. Many may argue that the Super Bowl simply reaches more eyes and is therefore simply a better opportunity. However, March Madness consists of many more games, and it offers many chances to build brand recognition with the same amount—or less—of ad spend.
An investment in March Madness offers the opportunity to build brand recognition and tell a story over multiple days and weeks. Look no further than Capital One’s March Madness series, now in its seventh year. Stars Samuel L. Jackson, Charles Barkley and Spike Lee have become just as recognizable in March as brackets and basketballs. Each year the brand builds on its awareness with multiple spots and expands its reach with new athletes and celebrities, including Sue Bird and Jennifer Garner.
For Super Bowl ads, this type of storytelling may occur with additional videos or spots released on YouTube or other platforms—but typically only one spot airs live during the game. March Madness can offer a more cohesive experience of a brand’s story over multiple spots throughout the tournament without requiring viewers to divert their attention from the game to get the full story.