Why one game is a fantasy-turned-reality for advertisers


For many, the final weeks of August are a sad time: the summer is winding down and cold weather is creeping in from just around the corner.  However, for others, the end of August is the most exciting time of the entire year – because fantasy football is kicking off.

Image via jetnation.com.

As someone who is generally indifferent to the NFL, fantasy football season is personally dull for me. But as a marketer, I am completely obsessed.  It excites me because other fantasy sports drafts like baseball, basketball, and hockey pale in comparison to the billion dollar market fantasy football has created.

Fantasy football is particularly important to the advertising industry. 

First and foremost, fantasy football delivers a platform for an incredibly desirable demographic. The average fantasy football player is male, 30-40 years old, has a household income over $90k and has capital to spend. Using sports to reach this demographic is certainly not a new idea, but advertising within fantasy football allows marketers to reach this audience when they are most deeply engaged.

Fantasy football offers neutral playing ground, which is especially attractive since the NFL is a really troubled league.  The NFL’s image has become tarnished over the last few years due the concussion controversy, lax player safety standards, and player arrests. But fantasy football has a loophole- it allows users to disconnect from the league as a whole. When users are the GM of their own teams, they are no longer required to solely cheer on a specific team. Users follow their fantasy teams’ players across NFL team lines, indirectly giving the NFL itself less ownership of its own athletes and empowering the fantasy football owner.

 This ownership causes the users to become almost addicted to their team, and advertisers can capitalize on the captive audience in front of them.

Finally, the sheer saturation of fantasy football across the entire sports industry is enough to ensure advertisements’ visibility. To be competitive in any fantasy league, users need a portal, they need game access, and they need research.  Because of this, there are several mediums that have numerous opportunities to touch the desirable fantasy football demographic.

Fantasy league portals like Yahoo! and CBS Sports have worked side by side with massive advertisers like Miller-Coors, Toyota, and Visa to create engaging, native advertising partnerships. Besides regular in-market game broadcasts, the NFL runs games on Sunday Ticket and RedZone – two must-have subscriptions for any respectable fantasy football user. It’s the only way to stay up to date with out-of-market teams and players, and is splashed with advertisements along the way.

Fantasy football is a digital game which opens up the door for digital advertising. Popular sites like Yahoo! ESPN and CBS Sports receive a huge spike in traffic throughout the entire football season, creating the perfect platform for banner and custom content advertising. 

As advertisers, we’re always looking for opportunities for ad engagement and visibility to be high, and we think fantasy football creates an environment for both to be achieved.

What do you think of fantasy football? If you’re obsessed like I am, here are some great reads that I’ve cited within this post: Slate’s piece piece titled “The Evil Genius of Fantasy Football,” AdAge’s piece that provides a breakdown of the fantasy football demo, and AdWeek’s story covering media companies involved in the game.


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