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X-Ray of a Football Game: The Power of Cristiano Ronaldo’s Image

Biometric responses to sporting events can be used by marketers to help understand the value of promotions and sponsorships.

Editor’s Note: Over the past decade or so, a number of techniques have been developed with the goal of helping marketers understand the emotional impact of marketing stimuli.  Chief among them have been a family that typically fall under the umbrella of “euro” methods.  As experience has grown, the industry has learned much about when and how to use particular techniques.  In the post below, Pedro Almeida and Barbara Silva describe how they have used biometric methods to help understand emotional responses to football (or, soccer, as we Americans say), and what it means for marketers.  Really interesting approach!


The Champions League is one of the most valuable football championships in the world, transacting billions of euros in media rights alone. The emotions of football fans are a new currency that should be treasured by leagues, sponsors, advertisers, and broadcasters. Understanding when fans are truly engaged, and what drives their emotion in the game allows companies to transform emotion into revenue, by betting on key moments, the right editing choices and the most engaging players and sports leagues.  So, in a partnership with Eleven Sports, we decided to look at the emotions evoked by football.

We collected biometric responses (galvanic skin response and heart rate) + declarative reactions from a community of participants as they watched the live broadcast of a game in their homes.  Our sensors and platform allow synchronizing second-by-second biometric and declarative responses from dozens or hundreds of fans with any live content they are watching on TV, to deliver engagement metrics through a proprietary client dashboard.  We have used similar approaches for other sports such as F1.

The first match we tested was the Champions League match – Juventus vs Atlético de Madrid. And what a match it was!

 

 

Goals, goals, goals!

What do people want when they buy a ticket or a PPV to a match? They want to feel emotion, passion, and adrenaline. And nothing drives emotion like goals! Goals are considered golden opportunities for sponsor appearance and are the right moments to launch banner advertisements or ad insertion. We now have data to back this up. Successful advertising should capture the high emotional states produced by goals (but don’t wait long, do it immediately before the replay, when the arousal levels are still high).

 

 

Detecting and analyzing replays also allows a focus on the best editing options – how many replays, which ones, at which moments? One key insight for sponsors: goal replays across the game are the runner up as the most engaging event. These are key opportunities for sponsoring referrals:

 

 

Cristiano Ronaldo, Cristiano Ronaldo, Cristiano Ronaldo

He is clearly the MVP in the world.  Let’s start with the obvious – Ronaldo is the 3rd best-paid athlete in the world (and the 10th highest paid celebrity on 2018), the most influential soccer player on social media (159 million followers on Instagram and 77 million on Twitter), and the man of the League (121 goals).

Through the tagging of the timeline, we were able to detect each moment each player touches the ball. And Ronaldo really stole our hearts! Whenever he holds the ball the crowd’s emotion lights-up- again, making for an interesting metric for sponsors! It gets more impressive when we compare Ronaldo with other players:

 

 

There is no doubt he was crucial in this game (as he scored the three goals – plus one annulled) that won Juventus the qualifying round.  Judging from this, he seems to be worth of every penny his sponsors invest.

Monitoring the reactions of fans to live events is a new and revolutionary way to measure football impact. These metrics allow advertisers, sponsors, and media rights holders to move beyond hunches when producing events that fans love, and to complement audience ratings when assessing the value of sports as the ultimate vehicle for brand promotion.

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Pedro Almeida and Bárbara Silva

MindProber