Virtual advertising breakthrough in Bundesliga as Supponor approved
By Jonathan Rest
Virtual perimeter advertising is heading to the Bundesliga after the DFL, the German football league, today approved the system of Supponor, the sports media and technology company, in an agreement with the Lagardère Sports agency.
The DFL said virtual advertising can be used regularly in live international broadcasts of Bundesliga and Bundesliga 2 matches from the 2018-19 season, and that the league will "arrange a workshop in the near future" to inform the 36 clubs in the top two divisions about the "exact conditions and potential scope of the use of virtual advertising."
The groundwork for the agreement was laid almost a year ago when Supponor and ADI Group, the LED screen and signage experts, embarked on a roadshow to put their Virtual Hybrid perimeter LED technology in the hands of Bundesliga clubs.
A pre-live game trial took place at an Eintracht Frankfurt match last May, and since the turn of the year Supponor and ADI have been working in partnership with Lagardère, which represents various Bundesliga clubs on sponsorship and pitchside advertising sales, plus the DFL and its production subsidiary Sportcast on a series of similar trials.
That culminated on 26 February with the first live broadcast of the technology in international markets at the Borussia Dortmund-Augsburg game, which was attended by sponsors and officials from across the Bundesliga. Both clubs are clients of Lagardère, as are five of the other top-tier Bundesliga teams.Supponor’s own DBRLive technology, which enables dedicated billboard advertising to be shown to television audiences in different countries, generating extra revenues for the home club, has been used in Spain’s LaLiga for the past six seasons, and has previously been deployed in Italy's Serie A.
Take-up of the technology has been held up in Germany as it could only be superimposed on static advertising boards and not on LED boards, which are used widely in the Bundesliga. However, the launch at the beginning of last season of Virtual Hybrid digiBoard in partnership with ADI means clubs can continue to use LED advertising to push their sponsors' messages in-stadia during games, but also to sell targeted advertising in markets around the world.
Philipp Hasenbein, managing director of Lagardère Sports Germany, said: “The virtual advertising breakthrough has supposedly been imminent for more than 15 years now. We are therefore delighted that we have been able to further develop the technology together with our strategic partners Supponor and ADI in order to ensure that it meets the very high quality standards of the DFL. We would like to thank the DFL for their close and trusting collaboration, and of course also thank our partner clubs who supported us during the test phase.
“It makes us proud that we have once again been able to provide an innovation-driven impetus to the industry as part of this group. We are convinced that the use of virtual perimeter advertising will provide an enormous boost to the entire Bundesliga’s internationalisation efforts. As an international marketing agency, the technology enables us to create added value for both rights holders and sponsors. We support our partners in further shaping their positioning in their respective target markets and in reaching their customers with targeted and country-specific advertising.”
Supponor's chief operating officer Charlie Marshall added: “Following a successful process of collaboration and technology integration with the DFL and partners, we have now made audience-targeted perimeter advertising a reality in the German Bundesliga.
“It was of critical importance in choosing Lagardère Sports as our partner that they shared our vision to cooperate with all of the DFL clubs to maximise the opportunity for large scale deployment of Supponor’s virtual technology to as many club partners as possible, regardless of their marketing affiliations.”