Pacquiao vs Margarito bannerSubscription-based cable companies have been among the most reluctant to
“go digital,” both with their marketing campaigns and with their
content. Keeping expensive TV shows and pay-per-view (PPV) events
behind paywalls makes sense, but neglecting to promote that content via digital channels (running a few banner ads doesn’t count)
is inexcusable.

Analysis of HBO Sports’ digital campaign to market the upcoming boxing
match between Manny Pacquiao and Antonio Margarito, however, shows
the companies are becoming wiser.

“In the PPV world, it’s the satellite, telco or cable company that talks to the fan, but we’re now looking for ways to talk directly to fans,” Tammy Ross, VP and GM of HBO Sports, tells Multichannel News. So far, HBO Sports’ efforts to be more direct have generated over 100 million digital impressions.

Make offline ads work harder by supplementing them online 

TV ads can be among the most expensive components in a media mix, but advertisers covet the reach they can deliver. Piggyback on that reach by re-targeting the TV audience.

To reach sports fans, HBO ran TV spots for the fight during NFL games broadcast by CBS and Fox. It followed up with banner ads on the networks’ NFL-based websites. To reach “mainstream” viewers, HBO ran ads during shows on CNBC and Fox Business Network, and followed up with and, respectively.

Spread content with social media 

Sometimes marketers want to drive conversation about their products and services, not just be part of it. Content can do just that by giving the target audience something they can consume, comment on,  then forward to their friends.

For HBO, that includes video clips of fighter interviews and press conferences on Facebook, with notes about new posts, polls and other content updated on Twitter.

HBO Boxing Facebook page

Both Twitter and Facebook also point fans to the InsideFightWeek blog, a first for HBO, that will offer live streams of fan reactions, celebrity interviews and other content on the day of the fight. (The actual battle will be behind a paywall.)