The NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament will begin in earnest on Thursday, but the field of teams was chosen yesterday. The tournament is a noteworthy event in the annual cultural calendar, particularly in places where college basketball is closely followed by a significant portion of the population. This represents a tremendous opportunity for brand advertisers in all industries.

Experian has compiled data and released research findings about the cultural significance of the tournament. According to Experian, the men’s tournament will reach nearly 20% of adults age 18 or over. This is an impressive statistic given today’s fractured media consumption patterns. It’s not just the reach alone that is impressive. This is a highly lucrative audience as well. Close to 40% of the fan base earns at least $100,000, and they tend to work in ‘white collar’ occupations. Four of the six most affluent market segments, based on Experian’s Mosaic lifestyle segmentation solution, have a 50% or greater likelihood to be watching the men’s tournament compared to U.S. households overall.

Given the characteristics of this target market, a lot of brands see this market as vital, and conduct campaigns around the event. Typically speaking, potential legal issues surrounding campaigns would likely be addressed at the corporate level, as marketers are often taught to be aware of legal implications of branding actions. In organizations that are highly regulated, brand compliance is a very pressing issue due to the highly regulated nature of the industries where the distributed model is prevalent. For instance, in financial services, FINRA is a key regulatory body, and they are known to fine over advertising issues.

In terms of local customization, there are ways for local agents, supported by corporate, to customize to local tastes around the tournament. Experian also released a list of the metropolitan areas that stream NCAA tournament games online the most. While the list of cities that stream the most may not fully represent the geographical breakdown of fan interest of the tournament, there is a degree of correlation with this statistic regarding overall interest. The two most NCAA tournament streaming metro areas are Austin, Texas and Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina. This makes sense because Austin is the home of University of Texas, a very large public university in one of the most populous US states. Austin also is not home to any professional sports teams, so University of Texas sports get a lot of local attention. Raleigh-Durham also makes sense, because it is close to Duke and University of North Carolina, two teams that traditionally have winning basketball programs. The closest pro teams to Raleigh-Durham are over 150 miles away in Charlotte. Austin and Raleigh-Durham are also known to have employment hubs in technical, science and engineering fields. Local agents in the insurance and financial services fields in these geographies and numerous others have a quality opportunity to capture attention in email and social media marketing campaigns based on the size of the target market, the interest in college basketball in these locales, and the favorable financial statistics. Bonds can easily be built based on fan interest in a college basketball program.

There’s a financial incentive for brands to take advantage of local customization while retaining centralized marketing control that will ensure brand compliance. This is a step towards top performance, a key goal of all team athletics, and something that should be an aspiration that brands work to make reality.