People talk about sports a little differently than they used to. Post-game discussions don’t have to wait for the next morning’s water cooler chats. Instead, fans turn to Twitter during the game for up-to-the-minute reactions, GIFs, jokes and memes.
That’s not something that traditional TV-first media brands can easily identify, and it’s why Dave Finocchio, the co-founder and CEO of Bleacher Report, has built such a successful brand for millennial men.
“The culture of sports includes talking about it,” Finocchio told Adweek, “and our transition from a news media brand into an influencer brand has been really cool.”
At Bleacher Report, which was acquired by Turner in 2012, the team have been attracting “people of the culture” for a while, as opposed to just reporting on the culture of sports from afar. And luckily, advertisers are also paying attention.
Currently, 80 percent of Bleacher Report’s 50 million monthly unique visitors is under the age of 34. Additionally, the site is up 300 percent year-over-year in video streams.
Not only are people turning to Bleacher Report for thoughtful sports analysis, but they’re also tuning into the different kinds of programming that the site, and it’s highly engaged social platforms, provide.
“A lot of our audience is in that phase of life where they’re ready to make big purchasing decisions,” said Finocchio. “They’re ready to learn more about products or services that will make their lives better.”
According to Finocchio, sports is the one content vertical that men will share at any sort of scale. Bleacher Report has fully embraced the concept of branded content. The team, which includes David Eichenstein as the vp of branded content and sales, and Beckley Mason as head of branded content, built its own in-house creative studio.
There’s an animation team, parody-esque videos and other episodic branded content to entertain viewers while connecting them to brands.
Prominent players, including the top college football recruit out of Alabama, have started to want to spend time in the Bleacher Report offices, in order to “speak to their generation.”
“Some players will just roll their eyes at the media, but that’s the media that’s covering sports instead of sports culture,” said Finocchio. “Now, they want to be involved with our content.”
Think of those SportsCenter promos with players palling around ESPN offices, but with more GIFs and laughs.
Bleacher Report takes a similar approach with its brand partners.
“Brands want people in the room that know their business,” said Finocchio. “Members of our team will be specialists in different fields. The future of advertising has to be about moving the needle for the brands.”
With narrative-based content, both in their own ads and in articles, Bleacher Report is well poised to connect brands to millennial dudes.
“Content is valuable because it’s entertaining,” he said. “This is how you stay effective with a younger generation.”