Case study

Sports Interactive

Extending Brand Footprints into Virtual Worlds

In 2017, Bidstack pivoted from Out Of Home advertising into gaming – pioneering programmatic advertising in virtual environments in the process. Bidstack’s first gaming partnership was with the iconic Football Manager franchise, and this integration saw the world’s first programmatic in-game ad delivered into a PC game.

The partnership with Sports Interactive acted as a proof of concept for intrinsic in-game advertising as a new channel, and since that initial launch, Bidstack has extended its relationship with Sports Interactive on two occasions cementing its reputation as a trusted partner for the world’s most respected gaming studios.

Sports Interactive, a wholly-owned subsidiary of SEGA, is the world’s leading developer of sports management simulation games. Founded in 1994 and based in Stratford, London, it has more than 280 full-time staff and approximately 1,400 researchers. The studio has enjoyed both critical and commercial success, having won a number of awards, including two BAFTAs, with titles selling over a million copies annually across platforms such as Steam, Microsoft Game Pass and the App Store.

About Football Manager

Football Manager allows players to immerse themselves in the world of football by stepping into the shoes of a manager where the fate of their chosen club rests solely in their hands. The critically acclaimed series has been praised for its immersive experience and the way it takes players closer to the experience of management than ever before. 

The title, which is available across PC, Console and Mobile platforms, announced a roster of new global partnerships in 2023 which included teams such as Manchester City and Juventus, and notably, UEFA – enabling players to compete within the most prestigious European club football competitions for the first time.

The 2023 edition of Football Manager has been played by more than 4m players globally to date, who have played for record session lengths whilst millions of players have continued to enjoy older editions of the game across different formats.

PublisherSports Interactive
GamesFootball Manager 2023
PlatformsSteam, Epic Games Store, Xbox PC Games Pass
InventoryPitchside Billboards (Animated)
The Matchday Experience

Launching with an all-new graphics engine, the 2023 iteration of Football Manager set out to deliver a virtual matchday experience like no other. Recreating real-world environments with immense detail, the title redefines the fan experience, empowering audiences to recreate moments historically they could only follow.

Sports Interactive work tirelessly to bridge the authenticity gap between virtual and real-world football experiences, and this is often achieved by enhancing subtle details within gameplay that audiences associate with the matchday experience. The presence of advertising within sports stadium environments remains a core part of wider sporting identity, be it within the venue signage, team kits or liveries – the presence of brands has become a core pillar within sports culture.

Sports Interactive utilise Bidstack’s in-game advertising SDK to seamlessly deliver targeted ad placements into stadium environments through highly visible and contextually relevant animated pitchside billboards. The partnership enables the presence of globally recognisable brands, establishing new commercial opportunities for Sports Interactive whilst subsequently enhancing the gameplay realism.

“The key thing for us in the studio is that the advertising is as realistic or as virtuous as it can possibly be within the game. Imagine if you are in a stadium or watching a game on tv - we want the brands to be as relatable to football or as realistic as possible so that the experience the player has is exactly the same as watching a game live or on tv. Underpinning all of that is the tech. That allows the game to run normally, for advertising to be geo-targeted and it ensures there are no dropouts in performance throughout the experience.”

Richard Trafford

Head of Partnerships and Business Development at Sports Interactive

Shifting Revenue Streams

Sports Interactive utilise Bidstack’s in-game advertising technology to deliver a best-in-class gameplay experience for its global fanbase by establishing a sustainable and continuous approach to monetisation.

By delivering branded content into gameplay, Sports Interactive are able to mirror traditional revenue models of real-world sports franchises and rights holders, establishing key commercial partnerships that generate complementary revenue streams.

With brands willing to invest significantly in return for access to engaged and influential audiences, Sports Interactive utilise their medium in partnership with Bidstack’s proprietary technology to deliver diverse global consumer audiences at scale in a brand-safe and highly attentive environment.

"In-game advertising, while an important commercial tool, has been specifically implemented in Football Manager in a way that supports the game experience for our players. By using pitchside LEDs, the ads that the Bidstack tech serves look just as they do in real-world football matches, preserving the 'suspension of disbelief' and tying our in-game experiences to real-world campaigns and sponsors. For advertisers who are looking for passionate football fans for their campaigns, our realistic in-game experience can complement live activities by timing, leagues or countries across 17 languages".

Matt Carroll

COO of Sports Interactive


Bidstack continue to work in partnership with Sports Interactive to innovate and push the boundaries of what is possible in virtual sporting environments, together they have achieved the following highlights:

  • Increased revenue generated by intrinsic in-game ads by more than 27x since 2019.
  • Delivered the world’s first programmatic in-game advertising campaign into a PC game.
  • Extended the partnership on two occasions, endorsing Bidstack as their preferred partner despite increased competition from other in-game advertising vendors.
  • Generated consistent brand activations from Fortune-500 blue chip brands.
  • Introduced a player-first monetisation approach to Sports Interactive’s flagship game.
  • Ensured no drop in game performance, protecting the player experience.
  • Unlocked market-leading attention metrics against industry benchmarks, making Football Manager a desirable place for brands to reach gamers.

“We know the huge value that brands place on reaching sports fans through traditional real-world commercial partnerships. With Football Manager, we're able to help these brands as well as the rights holders themselves talk to millions of the most dedicated, hard-to-reach football fans with dynamic, relevant and engaging messaging.”

Lewis Buck

Sports Partnerships Manager at Bidstack