What the ICC Cricket World Cup Tells Marketers About the Internet Today in Asia and the West

The world has changed since the last Cricket World Cup in 2011. In this article we examine how fans based in the two major Asia-Pacific cricketing powers, Australia and India, are using the internet in 2015 to pursue their love of the game and how marketers should respond to the trends.

Cricket is not a game that can be rushed. Matches take hours, sometimes days, and the Cricket World Cup is a two-month extravaganza. From a marketer’s point of view, this is great—the World Cup can be seen as a two-month experiment in sports fan behavior.

The world has changed since the last Cricket World Cup. In 2011, you could be forgiven for predicting that the future of the web was going to look, well, Australian: dominated by the desktop computer, full of English-language content. Four years on, that prediction looks far from the mark. It’s more obvious than ever that marketers need to look to India not just for what the next billion people will be doing but also for where countries like Australia are headed next. When Google first started tracking search trends, baseball was bigger than cricket. Every year since then, cricket has become bigger and bigger.

Source: Google Trends Data

Cricket fans turn to mobile across the world, but fans in Asia do it more.

Look at these two matches. First, the Australia-England game on Valentine’s Day:

Note: “84% mobile share” for Australia and “27% mobile share for England” represent peak mobile share for each country.

You can see a definite spike in mobile searches as the game progresses, with around half of Australian searches (average: 46%) coming from mobile. But it pales in comparison to the huge leap we see in India and Pakistan:

Source: Google Internal Data

The explosion of mobile queries—a staggering average of 78% of cricket-related queries—reflects Indian cricket fans’ desire to find out information in the moment with the device that’s closest to hand: their smartphone.

What are World Cup fans searching for?

World Cup search behavior gives a fascinating insight into fan behavior. Fans are searching for everything from pizza to player’s hairstyles:

  • Virat Kohli's hair is setting new trends. Since the World Cup began, searches for his hairstyle have spiked by 15X.
  • Searches for fireworks are exploding in India. After a series of popular ads, searches for fireworks have been at their highest in India since New Year's Eve.
  • Even cricket-related songs have seen a spike in popularity. After Daryl Braithwaite performed at the opening ceremony, "Howzat" peaked 15X higher than normal.
  • Hungry Aussie cricket fans want pizza to go with their game:
  • Source: Google Trends Data

    What this means for marketers

    Sporting moments such as the Cricket World Cup present brands with great opportunities to connect with their audience. By capitalizing on the power of search, video, and mobile, they can reach an audience with a relevant message at just the right moment.

    Here are three ways that marketers can tap into fans’ passion for the game:

    • Follow consumers onto mobile:
      Whatever your plans are, start with mobile and design for mobile. Create ads and apps for the smaller screen first, rather than downsizing your desktop creative. Create experiences that take full advantage of the mobile environment.
    • Be in the moment:
      Sporting moments are the best time to surprise and delight consumers in the moment. Real-time marketing tools powered by programmatic technologies can enable brands to capture this opportunity at scale.
    • Create content around passions:
      Understand fans’ passions and create content around them to grab their attention. This could be a hero piece of content or a series of snackable content targeted at moments in and around the game that fans care about.

    English football coach Bill Shankly said, "Some people believe football is a matter of life and death. I am very disappointed with that attitude. I can assure you it is much, much more important than that." The conversations around sport extend beyond what's happening on the pitch. They include arguments with friends, logistics, food, drink, clothing, venues, family, and rivalries. As sports fans move their lives online, these conversations move online as well. When these big sporting moments occur, you want to be there for people, helping them have the time of their lives before, during, and after the game.

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