Campaign Summary

ESPN sought to expand viewership of the NBA Western Conference Finals, as well as the NBA Finals. The brand targeted consumers with similar interests to die-hard NBA fans, delivering an interactive gaming experience that integrated teasers for upcoming games.


Objective and Context:

ESPN wanted to leverage mobile rich media units to drive awareness and viewership of the 2017 NBA Western Conference Finals and NBA Finals. The brand sought to give viewers the feeling that they were physically and emotionally part of the NBA experience. The campaign’s success was measured by number of engagements and time spent with each custom piece of creative.

Target Audience:

ESPN's Postseason campaign targeted people who were on the fence about watching the NBA Playoffs and Finals, whose interests aligned with those of a typical NBA fan. Demographically the campaign targeted consumers between the ages of 18 and 49 who enjoyed comedy, urban music, gaming, and fashion.

Creative Strategy:

A key component of the campaign strategy was to keep each viewer focused and engaged with the ad experience, making it hard to shift their attention, mimicking the deep determination and anticipation felt by the NBA stars themselves. ESPN's goal was to create an immersive experience that grabbed the user’s attention across their mobile devices and provided a sense of competition, excitement and anticipation for the NBA Western Conference Finals and NBA Finals.


Overall Campaign Execution:

Consumers were served a series of mobile rich media units, each designed to bring the user deeper into the NBA Playoffs experience. First, consumers were invited to choose their favorite team. From there, the ad creative tapped into the viewer’s personal photo album or allowed them to take a selfie which could be saved to their personal photo album to make them feel like they were a part of a playoff team. They were then served a brief, three-second video teaser for that night’s game. The third ad unit appeared as a full screen experience as viewers clicked between pages of content. It was a basketball shootout game that mimicked the feeling of making a buzzer-beating shot by challenging fans to make as many baskets as they could in 30 seconds. After the game concluded, fans had the opportunity to click-out to the site or play again.

Mobile Execution:

ESPN's Postseason Campaign was 100 percent mobile, with a $300,000 budget allocated to drive awareness of and excitement for the NBA Finals with high impact and video executions. To connect with its audience, ESPN built out several premium contextual site lists, such as Complex, The Verge, Sneaker Mob and Esquire, that reached demographics similar to NBA fans through a pop culture lens, highlighting entertainment and comedy, urban music, gaming and male-skewing fashion.

Results (including context, evaluation, and market impact)

The campaign exceeded nearly every KPI set by ESPN:

  • Campaign overall viewability was 81.09 percent
  • CTR for the “anchor” video was 7 percent
  • Shootout Game Interaction Rate was 51 percent (shots taken/impressions served)
  • The mobile-first, short-form video drove 76 percent higher unaided recall compared to traditional mobile pre-roll.

Categories: | Industries: | Objectives: Marketing within a Mobile Gaming Environment | Awards: Finalist