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Why our live sports pacing is a game changer for advertisers

Today more than ever, live sports are a golden opportunity for advertisers. As Connected TV gains momentum and sports fans adapt to new viewership habits, marketers need tools to help them stay ahead of the curve. Discover how The Trade Desk’s live sports pacing allows marketers to anticipate viewership fluctuations and better optimize budgets.

Right now, the live sports sector is a relatively untapped opportunity within the world of TV advertising. In a year marked by uncertainty — from the Hollywood strikes to various macroeconomic factors — and despite a softer than usual upfront, the live sports sector remains resilient and has potential for growth. Sports have kept enthusiasts anchored to their cable subscriptions for decades but with cord cutting intensifying, sports leagues are moving rapidly toward streaming, and viewers are following suit. A recent study revealed that only 35% of U.S. viewers now rely on cable or satellite TV as their primary method for watching sports.¹ As audience habits evolve, it’s crucial for marketers to adapt, embracing the potential of Connected TV (CTV) and live sports.

Advertising during live sports events is appealing for its ability to captivate vast and highly engaged audiences in real time. But unlike the audiences of other media and television programming, live sports viewership is characterized by its dramatic fluctuation, which can pose a challenge for marketers. So, what’s our solution?

What we built

We’re proud to introduce a new workflow and agile pacing system that empowers you to maximize the impact of your advertising spend during live sports events by providing more effective bidding when viewership patterns are in flux.

Our traditional pacing system relies on our platform to analyze traffic patterns to better understand inventory, thus enabling campaigns to bid more effectively and swiftly. But this traditional system requires a warmup period to learn viewership behaviors and patterns, which means that live sports campaigns sometimes miss out on valuable opportunities to bid during early spikes and surges. This is the problem we set out to solve.

New bidding technology for maximizing live sports advertising opportunities

With our new pacing system, we are revolutionizing our bidding technology by eliminating the need for a warmup period during live sports and events. Campaigns on our platform can now bid immediately and frequently during the high-demand moments of a game or event, helping you maximize your bidding opportunities.

This technology considers various campaign inputs — such as the total budget, remaining budget, flight dates, provisional wins, and expiration times of bids across relevant data centers — to calculate a biddable allowance amount. Our innovative approach enables you to seize advertising opportunities during time-constrained periods while aiming to mitigate the risk of overspending.

Bar graph showing traditional and new pacing system trends
Bar graph showing traditional and new pacing system trends

In a head-to-head test comparing our traditional pacing system with the new one, we found that the latter spends faster and more during short campaign flights. In the context of live sports, spending faster and spending more means you can take advantage of any fluctuations during the games and maximize your advertising spend. We also bid about 49% more on the new system and we were able to spend 99% of the budget, versus only 66% of the budget on the traditional system.

Live sports, with their highly engaged audiences, have become a hot spot for marketers looking to make an impact. As cord cutting gains momentum, CTV live sports present a unique opportunity to engage viewers in real time. Our new pacing system and bidding technology can change the way you approach live sports advertising, helping you bid effectively, maximize opportunities, and achieve your advertising goals.

Reach out to your account manager at The Trade Desk to learn more about activation with live sports.