At W2O Group, proprietary analytics power everything we do, so we decided, “Why not use our analytics to see who is dominating socially going into the Final Four of March Madness?” We live and breathe for the targeting our analytics can provide for our clients in order to set them up for success. Plus it is pretty interesting to see who is in the “double bonus” when it comes to share of conversation.
First, we wanted to pull analytics to highlight the social engagement of the teams that reached the Elite 8. Take a look at not only Syracuse University’s domination, but also a nice ongoing climb that the University of North Carolina has. (I have to wonder if W2O Group’s alignment with Syracuse’s Center for Social Commerce is helping the Orange’s efforts of practicing what we preach for social media while holding back my Tar Heels.)
Next we wanted to look at which team was producing the “loudest” fans in terms of social engagement. Louisville should be happy with the results from the Yum! Center.
Each year millions of fans tune in on their TV, laptops, tablets and smartphones to cheer on their alma mater, their hometown team or to watch a low-seeded Cinderella team defy the odds and beat a well-known number one seed. Whether it is at work, in a lecture hall or at home, Americans have an obsession with tuning in for every game – and now sharing their point of view, battle cries, chants, smack, photos, highs and lows. And the fact that the game will be live-streamed in virtual reality makes us geek out even more, salivating at all the data and social shares to come out of this tech milestone.
Last year, the tournament averaged 11.3 million viewers — the highest viewership in 22 years. Thanks to second-screen conversations adding to the story and increased social engagement, fans are helping tell the team’s story. They’re part of the team. The schools need to see the value in being storytized, because there are so many stories to tell.
Before the start of the tournament this year, CBS compiled a list of the odds of the top 25 teams winning the national championship. Out of the top five teams included on the list only one remains in the Final Four, the University of North Carolina.
This year is far from an anomaly. Perhaps the reason March Madness is so popular is the tension of expectation versus reality. You expect a #4 seed to clobber a #13 seed, but suddenly the opposite happens. You are nearly 100% sure that #1 seed is destined to be the national champion, and suddenly they are out in the second round. Consistently during four weeks in early spring, the nation is stunned, and history has proven this:
- In 2013, #15 Florida Gulf Coast University shocked #2 Georgetown University and ultimately reached the Sweet 16.
- In 2005, little known #14 Bucknell University upset #3 Kansas University, a true Goliath in the college basketball arena.
- In 1996,#13 Princeton knocked out #4 UCLA, the college basketball program with the most national championship titles in NCAA history.
There is no predicting March Madness. You can only sit back, relax and enjoy the ride. In many ways, March Madness goes hand in hand with our passion and fascination for the predictive nature of analytics. But sometimes, like our clients, we are amazed at what the data actually shows us – often throwing a wrench into our client’s perception of their Goliath.
The only predictive constant that March Madness possesses is that data, probability and statistical analysis mean nothing. Is it helpful to know a team’s ranking coming into the tournament? Sure. Is it wise to predict the outcome based off these rankings? Not necessarily. March Madness is the one time of year that analytics do not make sense to us fans and oddly enough we are ok with that. We know it will pass and after the tournament concludes, order will be restored. Part of the fun of March Madness is that anything can happen and that is what keeps us all watching.