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Washington Huskies Adopt Strategus Programmatic Campaigns

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With OTT Advertising, College Ticket Sales May Never be the Same

After a year of successful market testing with men’s basketball and football ticket sales, the University of Washington Huskies’ have integrated programmatic advertising into their budget to support the PAC-12 school’s season and single-game ticket sales.

Working with the Strategus OTT/CTV (over-the-top connected television) programmatic advertising platform (automated, real-time bidding for digital streaming ad inventory), the Huskies’ marketing department is breaking through the hit-or-miss clutter of traditional nightly news and sports network advertising.

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“It’s been getting harder to gain sports and entertainment market share using traditional television advertising in this very expensive, competitive and crowded Seattle media market,” said UW Associate Athletic Director Brian Bowsher. “We started working with Strategus during last year’s basketball season. That paid off, so we doubled down on our investment to add Huskies football. After a full season, we’ve found OTT programmatic advertising to be a much more efficient way to reach our audience, serving them dynamic video ads over content we know they’re watching.”

Bowsher’s team had experimented with a variety of digital advertising, but felt the need for more targeting and engagement in their efforts to fill the stands. The goal was not only to increase revenues, but also to enhance their home field advantage, and develop similar strategies for UW’s nine ticketed sports programs.

“We saw that consumption habits were changing with people streaming sports apps and channels, and with the traditional network and cable buys, we realized we were targeting content, not our audience,” said Bowsher. “Today, we know our audience is not just a numeric demographic, but sports fans who are choosing new sources and devices – smart phones, tablets and CTVs – to watch what they want, when they want.”

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With the new Strategus Attribution Suite™ of tracking and reporting solutions, Bowsher’s marketing team has been able to better quantify their campaigns. “It was always hard to track the impact of our ads that ran on ESPN or NBC Nightly News,” he said. “Working with Strategus, we’re now able to report data showing how many people saw our spots, how many took the next step and went to our website, and what percentage of those engagements resulted in transactions. This has really helped quantify our ROI.”

The UW program used the Strategus Sales Accelerator strategy with six-week multi-tactic campaigns that geo-target within a 50-mile radius of Husky Stadium with video creative, testimonial and call-to-action spots. After seeing OTT/CTV video ads, qualifying prospects were re-targeted with digital display ads to drive them down the purchase funnel to the website and ticket sales. Cost-per-revenue ratios achieved a greater than 10x ROI. Despite this, most college ticket sales programs around the country are still using traditional cable and satellite content targeting.

“I know my peers are trying new and creative tactics, but few are catching on to OTT programmatic advertising that we now know is more precise in targeting our sports-fan audience that’s streaming digital content over the internet,” said Bowsher. “With fixed marketing budgets in an expanding media landscape, all of us need to be proactive.”

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