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FA claims international first with virtual advertising trial

Coverage of England against Costa Rica featured different ads in targeted territories.

by Sam Carp

FA claims international first with virtual advertising trial

English soccer’s Football Association (FA) has revealed that it trialled virtual replacement technology on Elland Road’s LED perimeter signage during England’s recent Fifa World Cup warm-up match against Costa Rica.

In what was a first for international soccer, the advertising seen on pitchside LED boards during the live broadcast was different in targeted territories to what was on display to fans in the stadium and across UK commercial broadcaster ITV’s domestic coverage.

International Sports Group (ISG) secured the rights from the FA to deliver and commercialise two concurrent virtual feeds during the game, with one serving the Americas and the other Asia, Australasia and parts of Europe.

The implementation of the virtual feeds was delivered for the FA by ITV in partnership with technology company Supponor, which integrated the system using signage expert ADI’s digiboard technologies.

“The potential for virtual replacement technology is substantial,” said the FA’s senior broadcast manager Tom Gracey. “Perimeter LED displays have become a fundamental platform for activating brand partnerships in sport, so the ability to change that message to make it relevant for different fans around the world is hugely appealing for us and our partners.”

While the FA’s use of virtual advertising might have been a first for international soccer, the technology has already been rolled out extensively across a number of domestic leagues in Europe, with Germany’s Bundesliga the latest to integrate Supponor’s system.

Supponor chief executive James Gambrell added: “The work we’ve done with the FA follows a number of significant developments, including approval of our system for use in Germany’s Bundesliga as of next season.  We look forward to helping the FA to continue to innovate and be at the forefront of driving value for its partners around the world.”