Game On: GumGum CEO Ophir Tanz at the ad-tech company in Santa Monica.

Game On: GumGum CEO Ophir Tanz at the ad-tech company in Santa Monica. Photo by Ringo Chiu.

Though the 2014 FIFA World Cup is taking place more than 5,000 miles away, local tech companies are cashing in on the global event, leveraging a marketing gold mine that only comes along once every four years.

More than 3.2 billion people are expected to watch the World Cup over its five-week run in Brazil, and in the United States, where interest in soccer lags behind almost every other country, ratings are increasing. Last week’s thrilling 2-1 win by the United States over Ghana drew more than 11 million viewers according to Nielsen, making it the most watched men’s soccer game of all time in the United States on cable. An additional 1.4 million people watched the game on ESPN’s website and mobile app.

That kind of attention has advertisers rushing to get their products in front of all those eyeballs and they are increasingly turning to tech firms that can aid them in the digital realm.

Among those is Santa Monica in-image ad maker GumGum, which is helping large national advertisers associate their brands with the “beautiful game” by creating digital World Cup campaigns for three clients that have budgets averaging $200,000.

The company’s technology scours their websites for specific images on top of which brands can place rich media ads that GumGum creates in house. A recent example is the placement of an ad for Walt Disney Co.’s “Maleficent” that appeared layered on top of an image of Angelina Jolie.

Ira Kalb, a clinical marketing professor at USC’s Marshall School of Business, said the World Cup and other major sporting events are enticing to national and international marketers whether or not they’re selling products that have anything to do with sports.

“They’re tapping into the size of the audience,” Kalb said, and using the platform to create a brand impression while eyes are either glued to the TV watching the event or reading reports about it online.

Those fans, he continued, are also sharing articles, images and videos of the tournament on social media in droves, allowing a brand’s message to reach a whole new layer of potential consumers.

The opportunity is not limited to mass audiences; the World Cup is an opportunity for local retailers to cash in.

West Hollywood alcohol delivery app Saucey, for instance, which launched early this year, serves customers that reside solely in the greater L.A. area.

Saucey delivers liquor, beer and wine that its users purchase from local liquor stores through a smartphone app. It makes money only on the delivery fee, which varies based on where the customer lives. It has launched several promotional efforts to encourage soccer fans to order alcohol for the game-viewing parties.

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