How Brands Can Score Big with March Madness Advertising

New brand experience (BX) insights reveal how to maximize sports advertising effectiveness

March Madness now rivals the Big Game as one of the most watched sporting events in the US. Unique in its ability to grip consumers’ attention for several weeks at a time, the tournament is about far more than just basketball. It’s a ripe opportunity for brands to tap into a captive audience of consumers and deliver culturally relevant brand experiences. 

DISQO’s new March Madness Ads & Brand Experience insights offer the intelligence brands need to make the most of their sports advertising investments. Discover who plans to watch the games (and how), viewers’ preferred ad formats, how athlete influencers impact brand perceptions, sports betting plans, and more.

What defines the March Madness brand experience?

March Madness, and sports advertising more generally, are paving the way for experiences that fuel brand growth. Let's dig into how.

Engagement beyond the games

March Madness extends far beyond the court. Spanning multiple weeks, the tournament buzz starts before Game 1 as people meticulously craft their brackets. Whether it’s sponsorships, social media, contests or other activations, brands have a unique opportunity to tap into the March Madness culture with innovative content on and off the court.

Our March Madness insights dig into which ad formats – social media activations, contests, on-court branding, and more – resonate with March Madness viewers. We explore how brands can develop experiences that enhance their excitement and camaraderie, underscoring the importance of going beyond traditional product placement or endorsements to stand out.

Cross-channel exposure

The proliferation of streaming platforms and bundles, virtual multichannel video programming distributors (vMVPDs), and live streaming opportunities has moved sports viewing beyond traditional TV screens. Receptivity to discounted streaming packages in exchange for ad exposure has continued to grow, per our recent Ad-Supported Streaming TV report. With this shift to streaming ads, brands can tap into targeted advertising, interactive content, and real-time engagement to maximize reach and develop stronger viewer connections. 

Learn which devices consumers plan to watch the games on, in addition to which platforms they plan to use with DISQO’s new insights. Every brand touchpoint matters in today’s crowded digital landscape. Developing a cross-channel strategy and, importantly, understanding the synergies of how they work together to drive brand and behavioral impact is critical.

The fandom of athlete influencers

Athlete partnerships have become a popular brand strategy because they provide access to a loyal fan following. However, next-gen sports fans are pros at sniffing out inauthentic content, and demand more from athlete influencers. Whether it’s through in-game product placements, campaign content, or sponsored events, brands need to take a thoughtful approach to cultivating influencer content that will truly resonate with fans.

With the allowance of usage deals – name, image, and likeness (NIL) –  for college athletes, there’s been a surge in campaigns featuring athletes. Our report digs into how this kind of ad content impacts consumer brand perceptions, and showcases how people feel about athletes in campaigns. There are some notable differences in opinion across generational and gender cohorts, which brands should keep in mind as they develop and refine sports advertising content.

Brackets and betting

Wagering who will take home the gold, whether via a bracket or online sportsbooks, is a March Madness fan favorite. Brackets, in particular, draw in a diverse audience that goes beyond avid sports fans to the general public. Promoting brackets on social media or bracket themes in traditional advertising can go a long way in aligning your brand with the competitive spirit and anticipation that draws so many viewers into the March Madness buzz.

Find out who’s planning to create brackets, and for which games. Our new insights showcase how bracket participation impacts viewing plans. We also delve into how many fans will be placing bets via online sportsbooks.

Make the most of your sports advertising investments with DISQO! 

Get all the information you need to know about March Madness advertising below. Brands have a wealth of ways to reach consumers during March Madness. Those that experiment, measure, and iterate will ultimately win the game. And when it comes to measurement, DISQO has you covered with our Brand Lift and Outcomes Lift products that completely measure your cross-channel activations and the full-funnel consumer journey.


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