By RobertGray - February 20th, 2018

Digital distribution has obviously been a game changer for sports content providers as well as advertisers and one company that’s at the center of sports marketing is Wasserman.

The company has become a sports marketing juggernaut and its CEO, Casey Wasserman, helped land the 2028 Summer Olympics as chairman of the Los Angeles bid.
Tag Garson, SVP Properties, oversees Wasserman’s media rights group within the Properties unit. He discussed with Incite Group’s Robert Gray the challenges and opportunities for brands in the streaming sports world.
Incite: How long have you been at Wasserman and how would you describe your role?
Garson: I have been at Wasserman for eight years. My role here is multi-faceted. It focuses on media rights representation, but also includes working on content creation, sponsorship and licensing agreements for our clients. Our clients include teams, schools, leagues, conferences, and governing bodies across a wide range of sports properties. Day-to-day varies depending upon the schedule. One moment might include direct negotiations with media partners and the next moment can change to helping to ideate content or sponsorship concepts.
Incite: How do you think streaming media is changing the way brands advertise during and around sports events?
Garson: Brands have a few challenges and opportunities when advertising in streamed sporting events. The challenge can be how to make sure the brand’s message gets across when spots are shorter in duration, but that also provides opportunities to be creative.
With streaming, the traditional 30-second spot is often reduced to five or fifteen seconds, so advertisers must be innovative with their advertising.
In addition, streaming allows you to target in ways that traditional linear television can’t. For example, in the winter, Dunkin Donuts can have a spot run for coffee in the north, and something for donuts in the south in the same commercial slot.
Brands also need to understand that what works on one digital platform may not be the same creative you can use on another digital platform. The demographics on Facebook are different from those on Snapchat.
Incite: Are there any unique examples of older brands changing up their playbook now around streaming sports?
Garson: Many brands are switching up their playbook. You see QSRs, travel destinations, retail companies having to look at contests involving UCG, polls, flash opportunities, etc. to reach audiences now in ways that many of these traditional companies haven’t done in the past other than through banner ads, pre-roll ads, etc.
Incite: How is streaming sports changing the marketing game for official sponsors?
Garson:Official partners, and other advertisers, have had to look harder at where they spend their money. Whereas partnership benefits used to rely heavily on “hard” assets, there is a shift to spending more dollars on “softer” assets, including streamed content.
Sponsors also have had to look at different platforms outside of the traditional in order to reach younger fans, as they are consuming content in multiple places outside of linear television.
And, when these sponsors are considering different platforms, it may be that sponsor’s idea with contests, branded content, etc., that the brand pushes out instead of relying on the media partner to do so.
Incite: What’s been the biggest surprise you’ve seen around streaming sports?
Garson: I wouldn’t say a surprise, but while there is a gravitation for watching streamed sports content, live linear broadcasts still deliver audiences. We’re still talking two to four percent of an overall audience for big events are viewing it via some stream. The overwhelming majority are still watching live sports on TV.  Some pundits thought there would be more adoption to watching live events via streaming services, and while there is an audience there, it’s not as big as some had predicted.
Incite: Is there a brand that you have seen that’s found surprising success when it comes to streaming?
Garson: Red Bull has built their own media arm, Red Bull Media House, and has done a great job of utilizing live streaming of events that align with their brand messaging, including action sports and professional stunts.
The Red Bull Stratos (Felix Baumgartner’s live jump from the edge of space) is still one of the most unique things I have ever seen, and Red Bull was able to turn it into a massive promotional and marketing opportunity for their brand.
Incite: Have you seen a shift in the way companies like Amazon for the NFL or Twitch for eSports use data to market differently to viewers?
Garson: All media companies are looking to push content instead of having consumers pull content. One example of YouTube’s initial brilliance was the notion of pushing content to consumers based on what the algorithm was telling about that person.
Now so many companies are doing the same: from Facebook Watch to ESPN, we are seeing more media companies looking to utilize technology to push content to consumers based on their specific interests.
Incite: Approximately how large is the current ad market for sports streaming?
Garson: There seems to be quite a ceiling since it’s global in nature—how is price discovery for marketers and streaming services being worked out?
For live events, you see audiences being combined across all platforms into one overall rating/reach in order to maximize the price for a spot, and not sell the same POD differently on TV versus on-line. For non-live events, in some cases, at times, it can be a bit of a guessing game on how many uniques could be reached with a piece of content. Aggregation across multiple digital assets allows for a better chance to reach that audience number being guaranteed as opposed to banking on one piece of content doing that. It becomes incumbent on the sports property to suggest ideas and content that can new, different, and compelling in order to generate fan and brand interest.
Incite: What do you think will be the biggest surprise in digital marketing in 2018?
Garson: I continue to be interested in AR and how marketers use that capability reach consumers. For example, having Tony the Tiger speak to my kids from the Frosted Flakes box with different messages depending upon when I am in a grocery store could provide for some very creative content and brand connections with consumers.


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