Data & Tech

Grand Slams among most effective women’s sporting events for advertisers: report

The Wimbledon, US Open, and March Madness finals all led to more ad engagement than the average prime-time TV program, according to EDO.
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· 4 min read

Women’s tennis continues to ace it.

Both of the women’s sporting events that led to the most engagement for advertisers in 2023 were tennis tournaments, according to a new report from EDO, which comes on the heels of a SponsorUnited report that found the WTA to be one of the first two women’s professional sports leagues to surpass 1,000 sponsorship deals.

Tennis isn’t the only sport generating Grand Slam-level results for advertisers, though. Basketball—both at the collegiate and professional levels—had a record-breaking year in terms of viewership, and though the US women’s national soccer team had a tough run in last summer’s World Cup, EDO found that NWSL and FIFA games also worked out well for advertisers.

Grand slams: Wimbledon and the US Open were the “two most engaging women’s events” of 2023, according to EDO, which measures ad engagement by tracking the “incremental spike in brand engagement created by an ad within minutes of airing.”

  • The women’s semifinals and finals of Wimbledon led to 53% more engagement for advertisers than the average for prime-time TV, per the report.
  • The finals and semifinals of the US Open were 51% more effective than the prime-time average.
  • The French Open also beat the prime-time average in terms of ad engagement.

New Balance—which ran 15 ads against women’s sports coverage last year, according to EDO, including a campaign with 2023 US Open champ Coco Gauff—was particularly effective at generating engagement with its brand: Those ads led to about 200% more engagement per person, per second than the average women’s sports advertiser last year. The ads featuring Gauff were 379% more effective, EDO found.

“When you have an American doing so well, it pulls the audience in more to the programming and translates to people being more engaged in the ads during it as well,” Laura Grover, SVP and head of client solutions at EDO, told Marketing Brew.

NCAA(d): Audience interest in Women’s March Madness last year proved to be a good thing for advertisers. One ad that ran during the final saw the same amount of engagement as 10 ads during the average prime-time program would have, according to EDO.

  • So far this regular season, brands including Invesco Funds Group, NyQuil, and Reese’s have been the most effective women’s college basketball advertisers, per the report.
  • Games featuring Caitlin Clark’s team, the University of Iowa Hawkeyes, have been 7% more effective for advertisers than the ones without them, and State Farm’s ads starring Clark were 46% more effective at generating engagement than the brand’s average ad, EDO found.
  • Pair it together, and the brand saw a 28% additional increase in effectiveness for Clark ads that aired during Iowa games.
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With March Madness coming up, other brands are showing interest in the women’s game, too.

WNBA is for the boys: The WNBA is seeing similar results for advertisers. The women’s pro basketball league’s playoffs last year were 23% more likely to drive ad engagement than the 2022 playoffs, according to the report, and were more than twice as effective for advertisers than they were in 2021.

Some of the WNBA’s more effective advertisers during the 2023 season were more geared toward men, EDO found, including Bosley Hair Restoration, Hims, and Old Spice.

“The audience is mixed,” Grover said. “I think there’s as many men watching women’s sports as there are women watching sports.”

Kick it up a notch: Fans of the USWNT might have been disappointed by their team’s early knockout in the World Cup, but their short-lived presence in the tournament still paid off for some advertisers. As was the case with March Madness, EDO found that one ad that ran during a Team USA World Cup game would have seen engagement equivalent to 10 ads during the average prime-time program.

  • One ad for Volkswagen, a major advertiser during the tournament, “greatly outperformed the average ad” during the USWNT’s group-stage game against the Netherlands, according to the report.
  • During last year’s NWSL regular season, Volkswagen, Nationwide, MassMutual, and Axe were among the most effective advertisers.
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