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What the FIFA World Cup means for Digital

With contributions from Matthew Crist.

A cavalcade of excitement, exhilaration, debate, despair, joy and dismay all rolled into one.



But enough of the office FIFA tournament.

Like it or loathe it, the World Cup is almost upon us (we’re counting down the days).

Four weeks of wall-to-wall football from Brazil – the spectacle is unavoidable. Multiple live games broadcast every day on just about any platform you can think of.

Forget the Super Bowl, Wimbledon, the Olympics or any other major sporting event you can think of, the World Cup is the king of showpieces.

Just take a look at how obsessively we consume football’s greatest tournament in the digital world.

Unrivalled search interest

The FIFA World Cup’s global appeal is clear to see. According to data directly from Google, the last tournament in 2010 attracted substantially more search interest than other major events such as the 2012 Olympics, the Super Bowl and the Tour de France.


With the ever expanding accessibility to the digital world via more sophisticated smartphones and tablets than four years ago, expect that interest to soar even further this summer when the competition gets underway on June 12 with the opening game between hosts Brazil and Croatia.

worldcuptwitterTwitter frenzy

New figures from GlobalWebIndex (and approved by Twitter) suggest that 90% of the social network’s users will be watching the 2014 World Cup – that’s an awful lot of potential tweeting (especially when England get knocked out on penalties).

You can bet that 2014 event will dominate Twitter’s list of trends. The 2010 World Cup was so explosive on Twitter that it was estimated around 3,000 tweets were published every second in the half a minute after goals were scored! The craze was such that it became the second biggest Twitter trend of 2010.

A boom for eCommerce stores

If you can’t make it to the World Cup then often the next best thing is to create your own celebration with friends and family from the comfort of your own home.

It’s expected that search terms such as “smart tv” and “TV” will be the most popular between June and July of this year, with anything from 100,000 to 500,000 searches per month.

Equally, online supermarkets will be expecting a busy summer with queries such as “BBQ” “barbecue” and “Gas BBQ” predicted to reach anything between 35,000 and 60,000 during the summer.

While replica shirts aren’t necessarily the must-have item they once were, a resurgence in the popularity of retro shirts, combined with the novelty of a new shirt for the World Cup means that “england shirt” could see as many as 15,000 searches per month, while “new england kit” could be in the region of 25,000 plus.

ronaldoyoutubeYouTube advertisements

Given its popularity, the World Cup is also an ideal opportunity for big brands to sell their products by creating tournament-inspired advertisements. In April, two months prior to the start of the competition, the anticipation for the World Cup was already proving to be reaching fever pitch as YouTube revealed that two of their top five most viewed ads were football-related. The video service’s number one viewed ad being a commercial from Nike featuring World Cup stars Cristiano Ronaldo, David Luiz and Wayne Rooney.

Google Trends

In acknowledgement of the event, search engine giant Google have promised to setup a devoted page that will track unique trends, insights and queries users are making in relation to the World Cup.

The page can be found at and will be live from June 9. This will be sure to provide some fascinating detail on the effect, reach and global appeal of the World Cup to the digital world and will be well worth keeping an eye on.