March Madness has become an advertising goldmine. As of Monday morning (prior to last night’s championship game) ratings for the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament were some of the best the event has seen in nearly a decade, with Saturday night’s Final Four games between Louisville and Wichita State and Syracuse and Michigan garnering ratings of 14.5 and 17.1 million viewers, respectively. As a matter of fact, the whole tournament earned an average viewership of 10.2 million through Saturday’s games, the best numbers seen since 2005, according to Sports Business Daily.
The Tournament is arguably the biggest event in sports outside the Super Bowl. As a matter of fact, it is bigger than the Super Bowl on some fronts. When all was said and done after last year’s tournament, brands spent just over $1 billion on advertising. That edges out this year’s Super Bowl, which took in $976.3 million in ad revenue, according to Forbes.com.
Brands are not only seeing a substantial impact by investing in television, either. The NCAA has reported over 1.5 million online conversations about corporate partners occur during the tournament. Noticing the influence that social media holds during the two-and-a-half-week-long event, brands like Unilever Skincare were sure to integrate social media into their March Madness advertising.
The tournament also holds a great amount of weight for advertisers because its main audience is the coveted 25-49-year old male demographic. That, combined with the aforementioned climbing ratings for the event, is enough to classify March Madness as one of, if not the, most valuable investments that marketers can make when it comes to the sports world.