With the conclusion of the NCAA Tournament this week, we were excited to take a look at the data we’ve been collecting since it began on Selection Sunday. With college basketball fans on the edge of the seats, and social media erupting during the biggest moments, brands and advertisers saw an opportunity to attract a piece of the attention, with many brands partnering with the NCAA, colleges, or even just activating on social on their own.
- Over 670 thousand posts were collected in our feed and generated 23.6 billion impressions on social media.
- There were 23% fewer pieces of social activity generated from Weekend 2 to Weekend 1 and 34% fewer posts from Weekend 3 to Weekend 2.
- According to our Social Media Value Index of the NCAA Tournament, national champs Virginia were the most valuable team and school on Twitter. Behind them was Duke and their superstars followed by the three other Final Four teams: Texas Tech, Auburn, and Michigan State.
For sponsorship activations, owned brand activity is not the sole way to measure and assess the value. Brands have earned value through long term-relationships with teams and positive interactions with fans. As a result, we looked at brand activity, brand mentions, and any unique hashtags and terms used to incorporate the brand into the social conversation.
Sorted by total social activity, which is the total number of posts and social interactions generated around a brand, here are the Top 10 brands and sponsors surrounding the March Madness Tournament.
Amongst all jersey sponsors and manufacturers, Under Armour finished second in our social standings. With both Texas Tech and Auburn making the Final Four (and Texas Tech making the championship game), it gave a great opportunity for both schools to show love and for Under Armour to include them in relevant content.
- Impression Value: $93K
- Total Social Activity: 20.4K
- Projected Reach: 4.2M
An official partner of the NCAA, Buick’s effect was most felt during the Final Four specifically. Leveraging celebrity influencer Josh Peck and teams like Michigan State, Buick posted content showing off its product in tournament-themed photos. They also posted content that included other official partners of the tournament, specifically Wendy’s.
- Impression Value: $97K
- Total Social Activity: 5.3K
- Projected Reach: 6.7M
As the official sports drink of the NCAA, BODYARMOR made sure to take advantage not just on TV broadcasts, but online as well. Creating an ad at the start of the tournament that included celebrity endorsers James Harden and Donovan Mitchell, they took shots at competitor Gatorade. They also tried to sneak in as much product placement as possible in-venue.
- Impression Value: $100K
- Total Social Activity: 6.2K
- Projected Reach: 15M
The top jersey sponsor and manufacturer from the NCAA Tournament, Nike did not post during the tournament themselves. Instead, teams like Michigan State and Virginia did just that on their way to the Final Four. Pictures of sneakers on stars like Zion Williamson took off thanks to sites like Bleacher Report as well.
- Impression Value: $110K
- Total Social Activity: 23.3K
- Projected Reach: 6.4M
Despite not being the official sports drink of the NCAA, Gatorade generated a 23% greater impression value than BODYARMOR during March Madness. Not only was Gatorade was directly mentioned in the copy of BODYARMOR’s ad, but they did sponsored content with schools like Kentucky, Michigan, and national champions Virginia as well as the Big Ten Network.
- Impression Value: $123K
- Total Social Activity: 12.6K
- Projected Reach: 16M
As we documented on our blog earlier in the tournament, Capital One earned big value early on thanks to their Bracket Challenge. During the tournament, they bought the emoji hashtag for #FanGoals, ran sweepstakes for fans in the arena, and used celebrities like Charles Barkley for social content. Didn’t hurt that games were played at Capital One Arena as well.
- Impression Value: $137K
- Total Social Activity: 16.5K
- Projected Reach: 5M
As the official cloud software of the NCAA, Google paired with NCAA to showcase their initiatives with university tournaments around stat-gathering & prediction modeling. From brackets based on search interest to predictions before each game, this was a creative way to create an active integration in sponsorship.
- Impression Value: $223K
- Total Social Activity: 2.1K
- Projected Reach: 23M
As an official partner of the NCAA, Wendy’s took it live during March Madness on social media by sponsoring the “#FinalFour Twitter Live.” Former athletes like Wes Welker and Tiki Barber both appeared on the show and plugged their work with Wendy’s on their own social handles. On top of that, they had physical activations on-site, offering products to fans. This does not even include their own Pick Em Challenge they did with fans outside of the typical NCAA Tournament conversation.
- Impression Value: $300K
- Total Social Activity: 4.3K
- Projected Reach: 17M
#FinalFour Twitter Live presented by @Wendys is underway!— NCAA March Madness (@marchmadness) April 9, 2019
Watch @UVAMensHoops & @TexasTechMBB battle for the #NationalChampionship in Minneapolis alongside @danajacobson, @bwood_33, @AdamLefkoe, @TheAndyKatz & @TikiBarber. https://t.co/UE87dRhYKa
The official pizza provider of the NCAA, Pizza Hut brought a lot of diversity to its sponsorship marketing campaign. They sponsored the student section of fans at the stadium. They tapped into a few social media influencers on Twitter and Twitch to advertise new products and tweet about the games. Plus, they offered free P’Zones to reward members if a 17-point comeback were to happen in the Final Four! All of that work made Pizza Hut a very active member of the conversation.
- Impression Value: $338K
- Total Social Activity: 2.6K
- Projected Reach: 3.8M
As an official partner of the NCAA, AT&T saw the most impression value amongst all brands during the NCAA Tournament. From sponsoring the AT&T Block Party, which saw The Chainsmokers perform, to following social media influencers like Rachel DeMita during their on-site activations at the Final Four, to sponsoring slam dunk videos from official NCAA handles, AT&T saw big returns on their digital work from March Madness.
- Impression Value: $358K
- Total Social Activity: 19.9K
- Projected Reach: 12M