Interactive Content Case Study – FIFA 14 World Cup

Interactive Content At Its Very Best

It is rare that the hype around content releases withstands scrutiny and this is one of those rare examples.

The time is 2014 and the FIFA World Cup is just a few days away. Ice Viral has been working hard on a new idea with the release imminent.

Famous World Cup Penalty Shootouts

This content was quietly published with just a few tweets with some Facebook posts. What happened next changed the concept of content strategy forever.

Just 2 hours later Penalty Shootouts was picked up by The Metro with a story published just before 5pm.

By the next morning it was picked up by the Guardian, the L’equipe. Excitedly we brought up Google analytics and a live location spread map.

It looked like the spread of a global virus, the counters and metrics were spinning. The world map was 60% covered in 48 hours.

Momentum continued for the duration of the tournament until the content was moved a month later.

The metrics were staggering!


Case Study - World Cup Penalty Shootouts

For the 2014 World Cup, ICE Viral devised, developed and released a piece of Interactive Content.

The intention was to demonstrate the power of this innovative form of digital marketing, compared to traditional marketing methods.

In this case study, we detail the success of the piece to show the benefits that ICE could have for you!

We also look into the value by analysing the benefits whilst applying monetary metrics to compare the production cost with the results value.

The Interactive Content Success Story

Our Goals

To showcase ICE Viral’s expertise in all its glory; as a live example by creating a piece of evergreen content that would attract interest and engagement – even in the most popular and saturated of topics; The World Cup.

KPI’s included Social shares, organic backlinks, considered dwell time, visits to the site, and for national (and international) publications to talk about us.

The Idea

ICE Viral devised and built a piece of interactive content that football fans could interact with, revisit, share and engage with. We wanted to develop something unique; bringing video, data and design together to create a piece of content that fans could feel and would evoke the emotion that only a World Cup penalty shootout could cause: a piece that would grab attention in the most crowded of rooms and would stand the test of time.

We needed the piece to be responsive for all devices, particularly mobile, as content consumption becomes ever popular on the move.

Interactive Content - Campaign Metrics

The Release

To get this into the correct perspective we must remember that at the time IceViral was completely unknown, the website was new and the marketing budget was just £150.

ICE Viral published Famous World Cup Penalty Shootouts two days prior to the kick-off of the 2014 World Cup. Aside from some modest social media advertising, the content was pushed via organic social networking as well as PR outreach and performed beyond expectation – released via a brand that had not been launched and had zero brand awareness.

This single piece of content recorded the following results during the 32 day tournament:

  • 70,000 Penalties – Taken during the 32 Day World Cup.
  • 12m 17s Average dwell time per visit – this metric incorporated all visitors including bounces.
  • 1,787 Social shares – Facebook and Twitter.
  • 49 Linking domains – Including international sports news websites plus sports sections of outlets such as The Guardian and Metro.
  • 33000 Page views – Many visitors went from Penalty Shootouts to the other Ice Viral pages.
  • 124 Organic backlinks – Many pages linking to the content also had lots of social signals.

Astonishingly the total dwell time of visitors to the actual content page was 168,000 minutes!

                               That is 2800 hours of brand exposure

Interactive Content - The Results

The success of this content release was simply astonishing.

We gained huge success in terms of on-page engagement, but also in terms of PR. This content was launched on a domain that was only in its infancy, yet the strength of the content was such that we were featured a number of times by the Guardian website, as well as Metro.

The Huffington Post and a number of trusted football blogs also carried the story with great inks coming back to the content. This type of content release has not been replicated by other content vendors and in the world of sports content there has been no equal.

Quality, Natural Backlinks Acquired

Three organic links in the Guardian’s World Cup live feed, featuring on three separate days during the tournament and receiving such eulogies as ‘The greatest game known to man and woman’. Also featured at number 3 in the Guardian Football homepage ‘Our favourite things this week’ section.

Metro wrote a feature piece on Famous World Cup Penalty Shootouts and there was also impressive coverage via The Huffington Post.

This has resulted in significant search visibility for terms such as ‘penalty shootouts’; ‘world cup penalties’ and ‘world cup penalty shootouts’, emphasising the power of ICE within Google and other search engines.

Priceless Benefits of Interactive Content

Gaining top tier links from the highest regarded publication sites is almost priceless. Of course, you can invest in advertorials, but users are savvy enough to see through this type of advertising, whereas a naturally earned link is something money cannot buy.

Previously a digital marketing strategy was most often geared around the buying of high quality links and would come with a price-tag to match. We estimate that to purchase the links that the World Cup piece acquired within the 4 weeks of being live would have cost circa £50,000.00. ICE provides these benefits, and more, for a fraction of the price.

International Reach

The piece was subsequently picked up by French national newspaper, 20minutes, as well as highly regarded French nationwide daily sports newspaper, L’Equipe. This drove a large amount of traffic to the site (2,000+ unique visitors). In total the game has been played in 150 countries (and counting) across the globe and its cross-device integration and design has allowed it to transcend international boundaries.

2,563 Cities
150 Countries
97 Languages


Social Buzz

We designed the piece to be shareable, providing the options for a user to share their score with friends in addition to just sharing the URL. This achieved a great response, with a total of 1,944 shares across the major social networks.

Performance on Social

We found Twitter performed best for us, accounting for 63% of all social traffic. This was followed by Facebook and StumbleUpon.

63% Twitter
26% Facebook
11% StumbleUpon

This was influenced also by our tiny social media spend of £150 which was split between Twitter and Facebook. At the time Ice Viral had no social followers so this was not something we were able to leverage. Imagine a brand with 1m followers on social media the buzz would of been incredible and results multiplied many times.

Popularity on Twitter

Twitter was also the biggest referrer of traffic with circa 3,000 referrals thanks to tweets from twitter influencers.

To name but a few high profile fans of the piece that tweeted about it;

@benlyt – Author of Twelve Yards: The Art & Psychology of the Perfect Penalty (27.7k followers)
@fourfourtweet – Award winning football website (79.5k followers)
@AlanStrangeSky – Sky News
@arseblog – Award winning blogger and author (198k followers)

Visitor Analytics

Measuring analytics and KPI’s is a huge part of our process. Continuous monitoring of user engagement and technology usage allows us to update our interactive content where necessary and helps determine ongoing creative content strategy. Below are some real-time stats about the people who played the game and interacted with the content.

Browser Breakdown

To date, our analytics reports 23 different browsers being used by users viewing the piece, the most popular being Chrome with visits from 6,564 users.

Mobile / Desktop Split

We consistently saw the majority of the traffic to the site being via desktop devices, now we are in 2017 and this would be very different with mobile probably getting around 60%

Interactive Content - A Summary

Quantifying The Success

When you look at the ‘standing start’ that this content had then it would seem improbable that it could gain the momentum it did. The success can be understood when you look at some of the factors that became drivers.

Content Quality

This was by a country mile the best content released for any sporting event in history, the fusion of information, interestinteraction and innovation was unique. There is a reason to play the game whatever nationality you are, the game is straightforward and crosses language barriers easily.

Information – This was accurate both visually and factually in every aspect. Accurate representations of players, kits and player bios worked in harmony with the symbolic features such as the crowds, the goals etc. Content loses credibility quickly if the research is incorrect and the information is wrong.

Interest – Perfect timing, FIFA 14 was the most watched event in sporting history. With Tournaments there is more buzz and more demand than at any other time. During this period most portals struggle to deliver credible and interesting content and loads of dross is peddled. If you deliver content that is great at the right time then clearly the media outlets will do the marketing for you. This will be natural and in a way you could not replicate no matter how many £££ or $$$ you throw at it.

Interaction – Well you only need to play the game once to appreciate the level of interaction that is delivered. Interaction with body and mind, revealing your Avatar depending on your score, sharing via social media your success and failure.

There is no doubting the emotional grab of watching the videos, listening to the crowd, reliving joy or the heartache. Using this content is compelling with visitors trying several times to beat scores and get avatars to tweet or FB with their friends.

It definitely taps into the partizan spirits and the passion that goes hand in hand with major sporting events.

Innovation – Clearly this was innovative, before the first week was out there were 3 imitations released but they had virtually no success. They were poor in their design and poor in their implementation, people did not spend time on these alternatives even though they were released on big names.

The innovation was to create something that was actually great to play, it was good fun, it was impulsive. The World Cup content delivered facts, it delivered a purpose for playing, it was picked up by the most credible online resources because it was accurate.

The accolades were ground breaking! 

Finally measuring value

Our first estimates on just what this content would be worth were very reserved. In truth it is so good that it will be evergreen and when the tournament comes round again it will get a new lease of life. The reality is that in link value and visitor numbers there would be £75k of marketing spend to garner these assets.

It would need hugely crafted written content that was publicised in the most expensive areas of the media. It could be argued that you could not replicate this artificially given the way that Google has moved against manipulation of its algorithm.

However what you need to add onto the scales is the brand exposure, 2,800 hours of viewing time by interested people. We do not know what that would cost or how you would drive people with a common interest to spend so much time in front of a brand.

Factoring everything in we believe that this content is priceless – Were we to release it commercially it would of cost in the region of £8k and yet it would still be working for the brand even now.