How your opponents’ new signings can boost your Search strategy

In Summary

  • It’s not just the team signing a player who benefits digitally from a major new transfer.
  • If the player’s big enough, the clubs they play against can receive a boost, especially in their Search strategy, as the case of Lionel Messi proves.

What difference can one player make? On the pitch, a talented talisman can be the difference between a win and a defeat, a league title and having to settle for second place. But one player can make a huge difference off the pitch as well, especially on digital channels.

It helps, of course, when that player is Lionel Messi.

We’re sure you don’t need reminding that Messi created shockwaves across the footballing world last summer when he moved from Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain, ending a career with the Catalan club that stretched back to the year 2000.

As ever in our connected world, the buzz around Messi’s move was primarily felt on digital channels, as fans around the world talked about it on social media and discovered the latest news and rumours on search engines.

With clubs again getting out their chequebooks and looking to make major moves this transfer season, we here at DataPOWA used our POWA index product to dig deep into the numbers behind the move and provide key insight into how clubs can adapt their Search strategy and leverage this summer’s major transfers.

The signing and the debut

Messi joined PSG on 10th August and made his debut on 29th August, coming on as a second-half substitute during a 2-0 win at Reims. A total of 173.4m searches were made for the French club that month, the highest not just for any Ligue 1 team but any team in Europe’s top five leagues during the 21/22 season.

The below chart tracks Search volume for the best-performing team from the Premier League, La Liga, Serie A, Ligue 1 and the Bundesliga from June 2021 – May 2022. Only Manchester United in August – when they re-signed another superstar, Cristiano Ronaldo – came close to PSG, and even then they’re some 70m searches behind.

The majority of that volume came after Messi’s debut, with more than 100m searches being made in the week of Sunday 29th.  

The knock-on effect

Messi is such a huge global superstar that it’s not just PSG who benefitted from his signing, but also the teams he faced (or could have faced) in those first few weeks. As we’ve said, Messi made his debut against Reims, and they saw a huge increase on their usual search volume as a result, jumping up to 22.7m searches in August. Their second highest monthly total for 21/22 was 2.1m in January. 

PSG’s first opponents after Messi’s signing were Strasbourg, who they beat 4-2 on 14th August. Another 4-2 victory, this time against Brest, followed on 20th August. Messi didn’t play, but both teams attracted season-high search volumes during August, with Strasbourg drawing 4.9m (their second-highest was 991k in January) and Brest gaining 6.2m (second-highest: 2.5m in January).

A season-long trend

This trend isn’t exclusive to these three teams though; it continues throughout the season with many Ligue 1 clubs experiencing a significant peak or their highest monthly total when they played PSG.

The table below features month-by-month search data for every team in Ligue 1 (excluding PSG).

  • Cells shaded green highlight the club’s best month for search volume.
  • Those shaded yellow show when that club played PSG.
  • Those in blue represent when those two things coincide and the month they played PSG was also their highest month for Search volume.

As you can see, every team but three (Monaco, Lens and Nice) experienced their season-high in one of the two months they faced PSG, and often their second highest total came in the second month they played against them.

* Montpellier have two blue cells because both times they played PSG they received 2.9m searches, their joint-highest level for the season.

Key takeaway

Major transfers, especially for players who will be appearing in a new league as a result of their move, can have a significant impact on search volume, both for the team the player signs for and the teams they’re facing.

Clubs’ marketing department should watch the activities of other teams closely, correlate them with their fixtures list, and look for ways to maximise that potential in their Search strategy, either through paid media or targeted content. As Manchester City’s first three opponents, West Ham, Bournemouth and Newcastle, for example, may want to explore ways to jump on Erling Haaland’s early days in the Premier League.

Piggybacking off opponents in this way can not only lead to higher level of site visits for the clubs, but also greater visibility for their sponsors.

To learn more about emerging sponsorship technology or how DataPOWA can help you grow your sponsorship offering, get in touch with us at [email protected].