The World Cup in Brazil has created an online buzz;. Swathes of content have outpoured online and social media activity has been off the scale.

While England, Spain and Italy will be licking their wounds and flying home in disappointment, we take a look at what comparisons can be drawn between native advertising and the sporting event of the year.

World Cup Brazil

It’s end to end stuff 

International football is fast. One minute you are cruising to a one-nil win, the next you are staring down the barrel of a 2-1 defeat. It can happen quickly. It is, as they say, end to end stuff.

Likewise with native advertising: those that succeed are those that move fast, play to win and think like publishers by producing and amplifying good branded content.

It’s end to end stuff: it’s content ideation, content creation and content amplification via technology and a premium publisher network all in one.

Just as you cannot win a World Cup without being able to play a high tempo game, you can’t do native well without all of these elements in place.

A word of caution: don’t work with a native advertising company or service that doesn’t understand content, or have at least one in-house content editor on hand.

It’s a game of two halves 

Football is a game of two halves. We all know this, it’s what half time represents, after all. You know, that time during a game when you get a round of drinks in.

But did you know that native advertising is very much a ‘game of two halves’ too? The first half is content, the second distribution: you cannot have a ‘second half’ without the first. This is what native advertising is all about.

It’s about working the channels

‘Working the channels’ is a common football phrase nowadays; it means playing the game where there’s space to flourish. Tactically thinking about where you are likely to get the best result and the best opportunity to score.

Likewise, native advertising allows brands to ‘work the channels’. In-feed native advertising placements are fully integrated into the channels where consumers are engaging with your branded content. It’s the best place for a brand to be to get a result.

Far better to be upfront in the infeed native ad placement than shunted out in the left-back of the display channel.

The tiki-taka approach doesn't always work 

The much lauded tiki-taka approach of ‘sexy football’, much championed by former world cup winners Spain and characterised by short passing and moving through the phases, doesn’t always work.

Brazil 2014 has proved this several times already. Yes, it looks nice and makes those playing it feel a bit special, but sometimes all that movement is for nothing.

Sometimes you don’t want to be passing the ball around in midfield all day, sometimes you want the more direct approach. (Author's Note: Thanks to Kevin Sewell for the inspiration on this one, my football knowledge didn't quite stretch this far!)

It’s this approach that many brands looking to embrace native advertising at scale are currently looking to adopt.

They don’t want the tiki-taka-style native campaigns offered by individual publishers, they want the most direct approach that goes straight to their end aim: scoring a goal.

Native advertising at scale is the answer, as provided by native advertising networks, such as ourselves, is the answer.

It’s all about winning

This seems to have been forgotten by some football nations at this world cup, but the whole point of the tournament and international football in general is to win.

Native advertising is all about winning. It’s the biggest advertising trend online since video and social. Those that play it well, and play to win, will be rewarded with World Cup glory.

Dale Lovell

Published 30 June, 2014 by Dale Lovell

Dale Lovell is Content & Publishing Director at and a contributor to Econsultancy. 

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Comments (2)


Colin McDermott

Yep, a good sprinkling of football/soccer analogies in there Dale/Kevin; well done. Having just returned from Rio myself, I'd also include 'creative consistency' in there too. I thought the drinks companies did a particularly nifty 'native advertising' job. They had their regular 'branded' drinks cups that might otherwise be cast aside when the contents were consumed, but by 'individually marking' their cups for each different fixture/match/location, they had instantly made them collectors pieces. If you look closely at any of those camera shots where they sweep over the crowd, you'll likely note the 'stacks' of drinks cups being held by many in the audience. I brought back a bunch back of cups myself from the two different matches I saw and have passed them on as World Cup gifts to family and friends. Long lasting 'branded' memorabilia!

about 4 years ago

Dale Lovell

Dale Lovell, Chief Digital Officer at Adyoulike

That's a great idea there Colin and a good piece of native brand advertising.

about 4 years ago

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