England fans flock to mobile media to share their World Cup angst

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Before a ball was even kicked in South Africa the scene was already set that mobile and social media would likely play a huge role for Britain's World Cup fans. Data from Kantar Media's TGI Sport+ survey shows that the 11 million adult fans very interested in football and who planned to follow the World Cup are more likely than the average adult to be both heavy users of the internet and particularly reliant on their mobile. This indicated that the World Cup might genuinely spark a surge in mobile internet usage.

Younger World Cup fans in particular were set to immerse themselves in all things social media. Over half of 16-35 year old fans anticipated that to express their views or find out what others were thinking about the World Cup they would do at least one the following: read comments on Facebook, post comments on Facebook, read web-based articles, comments and blogs. In addition, almost 10% anticipated following people on Twitter to get a handle on the thoughts of others about the matches, making them 80% more likely to do so than fans of other ages.

Once England finally kicked off their campaign, mobile media did indeed prove to be a key tool. Kantar Media Custom's WAP survey of smartphone users during half time in the England v USA match revealed two thirds had used their mobile in some way during the first half. Over a fifth had accessed the internet, 16% had been on a social network site via their mobile and 15% had either made or received a call. The results also revealed that in the heat of the moment it remains more instinctive to send a text, which 45% had done in the first half.

Jason Vir, director at Kantar Media, commented 'Understandably given the disastrous goal conceded in the England-USA match the natural motivations of fans were to console and entertain their peers. Mobile - and accessing social media sites via mobile - is clearly an efficient, expressive and convenient way for fans to do this. Indeed, our research shows how after the match social media usage really kicked in as people sought to let off steam about what had happened. We invited respondents to let us know via their mobiles not only how they were communicating during England's matches, but also how they were feeling and they didn't hold back! Disappointment and anger were key themes, but there was also a certain optimism that the performance levels would pick up - misguided as it turned out!'

One of the key challenges for those working in media is to understand how audiences engage emotionally with digital content across platforms. This enables evaluation of how different elements of the mix help them to build relationships with their audience and enhance advertising effectiveness. Kantar Media's studies around the World Cup demonstrate how mobile research provides a crucial opportunity to tap into that emotion in real time. Weaving mobile into the methodology provides a forum for respondents who - free from the constraints of social conformity and impact of researchers - can really express themselves and provide a wholly honest and intimate portrait of their behaviour and emotions.