March Madness Round 1 Impact Report

Mar 15, 2018

Every March, the NCAA Basketball tournament, affectionately dubbed March Madness, takes place and disrupts productivity in offices around the US. Over the course of the next few weeks, Americans’ attention will be glued to screens as the next NCAA Champion is crowned. With the tournament officially getting underway this week, 4C looked into the social media audience for the tournament and how the competing teams stack up against each other on social.

Top restaurant and alcohol brand affinities for the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament

Food, drinks, and sports are a natural mix. Using the 4C Insights Affinity Graph™, we looked into the restaurants and alcohol brands that people who engage with March Madness are also engaging with on social media. Wendy’s, an official NCAA sponsor, is the restaurant that March Madness fans are most often also engaging with. While alcohol brands historically tend to stay away from advertising during televised college sporting events, that doesn’t mean the people watching and engaging with the events aren’t also interested in alcohol brands. The top five alcohol brands for March Madness are all beers, with perennial college favorite Natural Light taking the top spot.

Top affinities for notable teams in the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament

We also took a deeper look at the tournament by finding the competing teams with the most social media engagement leading into the tournament as well as comparing engagement for those teams entering the competition at the top of their divisions. The University of Michigan has the most socially engaged team at the beginning of March Madness, with West Virginia University taking the second spot. Michigan’s social media audience also engages with the Little League World Series, retired NBA star and Michigan native Magic Johnson, and Midwestern institution Meijer.

Of the four top seeded teams, Villanova has the most social media engagement so far. Villanova’s audience also engages with New York Giants’ safety Landon Collins, Gatorade, and The Goldbergs – making Villanova the only top-seeded team with an audience that engages most with non-sports’ related TV programming.

Top affinities for most-engaged sponsors of the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament

With 67 total games over the course of three weeks, March Madness comes with many opportunities for brands to leverage the large audience tuning into the tournament. Before the games officially got underway, we compared how the NCAA official sponsors net out on social media. Intel and Google are the most socially engaged NCAA sponsors, and both have audiences that engage with political TV programming – The Rachel Maddow Show and Meet The Press – as well as politicians themselves – Paul Ryan and Ted Cruz. When it comes to engagement with teams competing in the tournament, Intel’s audience is most often engaging with San Diego State, while Google’s audience engages with Davidson, alma mater of Bay Area hero and Golden State Warriors point guard Steph Curry.

Most socially engaged mascots for the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament

While most social media engagement happens with each school’s team accounts, many schools also keep up a social media presence for their mascots. Heading into March Madness, Butler Blue III, an English Bulldog also known as Trip, was the most socially engaged mascot. Michigan State’s Sparty and Ohio State’s Brutus Buckeye took the next two spots.

As the tournament progresses, we’ll be monitoring buzz around teams and advertisers across screens. Stay tuned for more March Madness Impact Reports, and subscribe to get our updates in your inbox.