FA in international first for virtual advertising
England became the first international soccer team to commercially deploy virtual advertising boards as the Football Association debuted perimeter technology in last week's World Cup warm-up match against Costa Rica.
At England's 2-0 win at Elland Road, home of second division club Leeds United, virtual replacement technology developed by Supponor, the sports media and technology company, and its partner ADI Group, the LED screen and signage experts, was used.
Commercial rights were managed by Interregional Sports Group, the UK-based sports media group, which secured rights from the FA to deliver the virtual perimeter advertising for the game and commercialised two concurrent virtual feeds, one delivered to the Americas and the other to Asia, Australasia and parts of Europe.
The technology was deployed commercially for the first time at an English game last December, when Leeds United played Norwich City at Elland Road.
It has been used widely in Spain's LaLiga and will be introduced in Germany's Bundesliga next season, but last Thursday's England friendly represented the first time it was in full live, commercial use in international soccer.
Tom Gracey, the FA’s senior broadcast manager, said: “The potential for virtual replacement technology is substantial. 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. We were delighted to be able to collaborate with various stakeholders in order to deploy it on this occasion.”
Geraint Williams, chief executive of ADI, added: “The FA have shown real leadership in their keenness to explore virtual advertising. It’s an exciting time for the technology, and the next 12 months will be a game-changing era that will transform the way clubs, brands, leagues, and federations interact with their audiences.”
In March, the DFL, the German football league, approved Supponor's virtual advertising system for use in live international broadcasts of Bundesliga and 2.Bundesliga matches starting with the 2018-19 season.
Uptake of the technology had been held up in Germany and the UK as it could only be superimposed on static advertising boards and not on LED boards.
However, the launch at the beginning of the 2016-17 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.