This article first appeared on The Drum
The Indian Premier League (IPL) is most familiarly known and celebrated as a mini-festive season every year. As consumers delight in the IPL matches, brands have an opportunity to expand reach, drive ROI and build a sustainable brand-consumer relationship. In association with Microsoft Advertising, InMobi released its 2022 report - 'Search Marketing Trends During IPL: A Guide for Marketers.' The report highlights consumers' exponential usage of search to help marketers prepare for the 2022 IPL season.
Here we highlight some of our report's insights.
A glimpse into the sports enthusiasts in India
Sports enthusiasts have many avatars in India. This category of the audience is frequent shoppers, predominantly Gen Z, and love using social networking, music, and gaming apps. While 65% of sports enthusiasts are male, 35% are female audiences.
It's a ubiquitous fact that these netizens remarkably increase the usage of smartphones during cricket match days. InMobi's Audience Intelligence Platform recorded a quantitative surge in mobile consumption in the second phase of IPL, 2021. Ergo, brands have an unmissable opportunity to 'connect and engage' with these shopping-loving audiences during IPL, as they plug into watching their favorite matches while multitasking on their mobile devices.
A mini-festive season: the IPL festival
As the great sporting event returns every year, it is enthusiastically celebrated as no less than a festival in India. This is a golden time for brands, as sports fans indulge and celebrate the two+ months of the mini-festive season. Marketers have a massive opportunity to dovetail their campaigns to support their full-funnel objectives. Be it the end of the financial year or festivals such as Holi or Baisakhi; there are many events lined up to drive corresponding relevance during IPL.
The ripple effect: the search surge during the IPL
Cricket lovers in India extensively leverage search to keep up with the pace of match-related information. Historical data shows that the exponential surge of search witnessed every year leaves more reasons for marketers to be present on search engine result pages (SERP) to maximize their ROI.
Be it initiating branding activities, driving awareness in the 2-month long marketing season, to laying the groundwork for the main shopping season in the latter half of the year, brands can truly connect with the high-intent audiences and equip them with information that smartly aids their purchase decisions.
Preparing for the IPL season
Leveraging cricket season to drive top-of-the-mind awareness, brands can correlate with these rising keywords on search. The following are the key trends consumers are pioneering this season.
Fitness and Health: Ever since the onset of the pandemic, health has become a crucial priority, and it continues to be so, even during this IPL. Searches such as 'exercise equipment' and 'vitamin' have grown over 119% and 96%, respectively, spurred by the consumers' need to maintain fitness at home. This sends a strong message for health and fitness-related brands to build their brand awareness by leveraging search.
In-home entertainment: A great time for entertainment brands to own the category, as there's a significant increase in search volumes for gaming keywords. As consumers seek in-house entertainment by binge-watching their favorite shows and matches on OTT platforms, video, gaming, and OTT brands have tremendous scope in a search for this IPL.
Food and Groceries: As the season for celebrating with friends and family arrives, Searches relating to food delivery will continue to rise this year as cricket fans watch matches together at home. The fact that keywords related to groceries see a 180% spike stands as a testament to the potential search has in driving desired marketing outcomes.
Home Furnishing: As people tried to upgrade their living spaces, extended work from home acted as a catalyst in sharply increasing the search volumes for home furnishing-related keywords. Home-related brands must bank on this trend to truly tap into the sports enthusiasts' interests.
Owning the IPL game with search
As consumers are becoming more tech-savvy, they are adopting newer and more complex shopping journey paths. Brands that understand these roadmaps and provide relevant experiences on time drive up the front and top-funnel engagements successfully. Here are our tips to innovate the search experience for cricket fans.
1.) Leverage search across the funnel: Leveraging search top-down, the consumer progression in the funnel ensures that brands have higher control over the shopping journey. Microsoft Advertising suggests brands leverage search, video, display, and social ads to drive top-of-the-funnel awareness, remarketing initiatives to drive engagement, and shopping ads to nudge consumers to the point-of-sale and further, drive loyalty.
2.) Search for branding goes a long way: By capitalizing on the latest search trends and trending keywords related to IPL and by defining focused goals, brands can build a strong presence in the consumers' minds and initiate a strong recall before the main festive season kicks in.
3.) Own the SERP: To maximize the real estate on the SERP, brands can grab the audiences' attention at first glance with the large visual imagery and make a big difference with the right visibility. By showcasing shopping ads, brands can activate the bottom-of-the-funnel triggers and deliver seamless search and shopping experiences.
4.) Powerplay to boost performance: By teaming Phrase Match and Broad Match Identifiers, brands can mitigate unexpected gaps in keyword coverage. Optimizing bidding strategies helps scale the campaigns on-demand and maximizes conversions.
By leveraging the search lever, marketers can strike the right impact on India's cricket-loving audiences and facilitate them with the right support throughout the purchase journey. To know more about consumer trends and detailed tips to win over consumers this IPL, read the report, 'Search Marketing Trends During IPL: A Guide for Marketers.'