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How Digital Media Jump into the Red-Hot Soccer Ad Market

Yesterday's announcement of Canela Media taking over exclusive U.S. sales representation of sports and soccer property Marca highlights the increasing interest in soccer-related advertising in the U.S.

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Media and advertising insiders tell Portada that media agencies are increasingly interested in sports/soccer-related sites and entertainment/celebrity-style content in and around the game of soccer and soccer players.  Soccer advertising is in demand as the U.S. enters a pivotal year for sports, with one of the biggest and globally recognized soccer events in the Summer of 2024 (Copa America) and the Soccer World Cup in 2026 happening in the U.S. The Messi effect is also helping.

Canela Media-Marca: The Value of Foreign Soccer Sites for U.S. Audiences

With the agreement to exclusively represent Marca in the U.S. market, Canela Media gains a major soccer advertising property to sell into. In addition, Canela Media will remain the exclusive ad sales representation firm in the U.S. for soccer media company FutbolSites until 2025.  As U.S. Hispanic soccer audiences often follow foreign leagues, their primary soccer news sources are frequently foreign sports’ digital properties. These include Spain’s Unidad Editorial-owned Marca; As.com, owned by Spain’s Grupo Prisa, and mediotiempo.com, held by Mexican Media conglomerate Grupo Multimedios. These three sites garner massive U.S.-based audiences, which dwarf the audiences of the sites of significant broadcast and streaming rights holders like TelevisaUnivision and Telemundo.
The sales representation of Marca and other Unidad Editorial sites was initially held by Hispanic Exchange, led by Jaime del Toro, which was bought by Numatec last year.  Typically, digital property owners ask their exclusive sales representation firm for a sales revenue guarantee, and this sales guarantee may not have been met by Numatec, which sold into Marca for less than a year. With the Marca sales representation for the U.S. renewal coming up for 2024, Canela Media has now jumped on the opportunity. The representation agreement also increases the attractiveness of minority owned Canela Media  to potential buyers.

FúTBOL: A deep dive into soccer as a key passion point to engage audiences in a multicultural America will be discussed by Scott Decker, North America Media Strategic Planning Lead, HP and Emma Velez-Lopez, Sr. Manager, Metro Brand and Advertising, T-Mobile at  Portada’s upcoming Marketing in Multicultural America Summit on March 5 in the Lambs Club in New York City.

Soccer Advertising: What is the Volume of the U.S. Soccer Digital Ad Market?

With properties like As, Marca, or Mediotiempo already selling for more than US $10 million annually and the increasing interest of media buyers in soccer properties, the U.S. digital soccer advertising market is becoming a compelling opportunity for digital sports property owners. Portada expects the Hispanic-targeted open web digital ad market (excluding social, search, and retail media) to reach US $1.36 billion in 2024; it is safe to say that at least 10% of that amount will be soccer-related advertising.

Soccer is still primarily a multicultural audience play, as brands often feel challenged to find large enough audiences outside the Hispanic market. Yet, traditionally published in Spanish only, soccer property operators have lately added English-language content to their offering to appeal to the more mainstream U.S. soccer fan. They have financial reasons to do so, as the “mainstream” CPMs (cost per thousand impressions) advertisers pay tend to be higher than Hispanic CPMs, which currently lie around US$ 5 and  US $14, depending on viewability and other criteria. Additionally, while programmatic CPMs have decreased, insiders tell Portada that direct sales CPMs have been steady. This explains the need for competent sales executives to sell into digital properties.

With the growth in interest in soccer in the U.S. and major international sports competitions coming to the U.S., Portada estimates the overall U.S. digital soccer advertising market to grow to at least US $300 million (this figure does not include advertising via streaming or linear TV). Including TV and streaming, the figure rises to above US $1 billion dollars by2026; in comparison, NFL’s media partners — ESPN, CBS, NBC, Fox, Amazon Prime Video, and YouTube — reap an estimated $5 billion to $6 billion annually from advertising in and around NFL games.

U.S. soccer advertising will likely be at least a US $ 1 billion market by 2026.

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