By Fabian Roch

Now that the dust has settled on the domestic football season, thoughts of English, Irish and Welsh football fans (sorry Scotland) have turned to the European Championships, taking place in France over June and July. Given the enormity of hype and buzz around the tournament, it is sure to have a huge effect on the world of search.

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In order to assess the possible impact of the Euros this summer, we have looked at data taken from the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. Unfortunately, England’s early exit (and the other home nations not turning up) means that we have been limited to only 3 games worth of data. Below are some observations taken from two of our clients, one who is sport-related and one who isn’t, for England's crucial game against Uruguay. 

Impression Trend - Non-Sports Client

Impression trend for a non-sports client

The above graph shows the average trend of impressions on a usual day, against the impressions on the day of England vs. Uruguay, with the blue bar representing the time that the game was taking place. As you can see, there was a large spike in impressions in the time leading up to the game, which implies that people are completing any online tasks before the game kicks off. Traffic slumps quite heavily during the game before picking up again shortly afterwards. The fact that traffic picks up again after the game is very unusual when you compare it to the average trend, which shows traffic to be on a downward slope at this point. This insight strengthens the argument that the downturn in impressions between 20:00 and 22:00 was a direct result of the football.

Impression Trend - Sports Client

Impression trend for a sports client

This graph shows the impression trend of a client who is directly linked to sport, and will be directly influenced by major sporting events such as this one. Yet again, there is a very noticeable spike in traffic before the game kicks off, which is followed by a dramatic slump during the game. What’s interesting here is that you can see another spike where the day’s late game kicked off (Japan 0-0 Greece). The England vs. Uruguay trend does not match up with the average trend, implying that search traffic was directly influenced by the football.

So What?

It is all very well knowing the effect of major tournaments on search traffic, but it is important to use this to your advantage and make the most of any unusual trends.

Google also did some analysis in to the 2014 World Cup and found that many people were ‘dual-screening’ throughout the tournament, meaning people were browsing on their phones whilst watching the football on TV. In the World Cup Final it was found that search traffic peaked the moment Mario Götze scored the winning goal, and the moment the final whistle blew. This immediately suggests that advertisers should consider raising their mobile bid adjustments in order to reach high ad positions around important games. As an advertiser, you want to be in the highest possible position when James Milner scores the winner in the final and everyone scrambles to buy the boots he is wearing. 

Another key factor to be aware of is timing. As we saw in the graphs above, traffic tends to peak in the hours building up to important games, and then slumps almost as hard as England during the game. For a non-sports company (such as the one above), it would be advisable to increase your bid adjustment for the hours leading up to kick off and then revert back during the game. This means you will be making the most of engaged traffic beforehand and then not wasting money on the more distracted traffic during the game. 

To Conclude

One of the main points to take away from this analysis is that no one is safe from this year’s European Championships. Our confused optimism and blind patriotism means that we will all be tuning in to see how our country fares in France this summer, which will likely have a great effect on our browsing habits. So whether your business is sport-related or not, make sure to up your mobile presence and prepare for an influx of traffic in the build up to games to ensure you have a consolation for when your country is knocked out.

Let's hope for better luck this time round...

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