This year, brands will use real-time marketing to enhance the World Cup viewing experience. Instead of being drowned out by the massively-popular event, telling brand stories in real-time offers brands an opportunity to be part of the conversation.

Coke, for instance, has stated they're going full speed ahead with real-time marketing during the 2014 World Cup.

Paul Dwan, Head of Assets and Experiential at Coke explained the importance of real-time marketing during panel at Advertising Week Europe 2014:

"In real-time, there were 2.3 billion consumers engaging with the World Cup in 2010. This year it’ll be more like three billion. The biggest difference will be the need to be real-time rather than pre-planned."

Aisling McCarthy, who works on the Adidas account at We Are Social, a social media agency, agrees:

"It is a reactive environment, so you need to know how fans behave in and around games. They watch the game, they update on Twitter, they second-screen. If you understand the behavior then you can work out how to engage with that. It’s similar to the Super Bowl, where brands get much bigger bang for their buck, and not just that one ad during the game."

Coke's Twitter account background during the 2010 World Cup.

By putting out stories or messages that reflect organic conversations and events during the World Cup, brands can stay hyper-relevant, or even newsjack breaking stories to become part of a viral moment.

The potential is powerful, but there is a second reason for real-time marketing. Risk reduction.

For instance, in a separate interview a Coke representative said if unrest occurs in a region, they plan to soften their marketing. People are passionate about their teams and the climate could sour. Here, being agile also helps them avoid accidentally becoming a target for negativity if their marketing message is suddenly off.

"We hope there is no unrest, but we recognize these things happen. You always have to be smart to have all kind of Plan Bs, Plan Cs and Ds to prepare for any contingency. And if certain things happen, you might have to change the tonality of your marketing or communications ... to make sure your messaging better reflects the mood in a particular country."

The roots of Coke's real-time efforts lie in their Liquid and Linked marketing strategy, announced in 2011: “Through the stories we tell, we provoke conversations, and earn a disproportionate share of popular culture … Then we need to act and react to those conversations 365 days a year" says the narrator in Coke's video describing the strategy behind Liquid and Linked (below).

Coca Cola describes that a Liquid and Linked marketing strategy is needed because the rise of an “on demand culture” where consumers can "turn their demands on" 24-hours a day. In many regions of the world, the World Cup wont simply be turned on. It will dominate the news cycle and popular culture at large.

Rather than be displaced by the epic soccer contest, real-time marketing lets brands participate in the conversation. This real-time brand storytelling will go much further than simply talking about soccer. The World Cup is an international contest that ties to deep emotions.

Brand stories can involve a gamut of topics such as:

  • Celebration

  • National pride

  • Competition

  • Physical health

  • Relaxation

  • Being a team and working together

  • Enjoying the outdoors

  • Sharing an experience with family and friends

  • Overcoming obstacles

  • The universality of sports that defies race, income, and location

For instance, we'll likely see more content like this Tweet, which was promoted by Coke during the 2010 World Cup.

Promoted social posts will definitely be a popular avenue for brands to amplify their World Cup conversation. The above Tweet was promoted to run 86 million impressions and had an engagement rate of 6%. Social media is easy to leverage in a real-time manner and amplify.

But to extend the reach even further, some brands will leverage their display advertising as well. Brands have many options for including interactive functionality in ads for event-based campaigns, like polls, slideshows, and article snippets.

No matter what the channel, an estimated 3 billion people tuning into the event. That's an opportunity that any global brand shouldn't pass up.