How Search Marketing Made Me a Fantasy Football Champion

Okay, so it’s not curing polio or splitting the atom, but winning my fantasy football league this year was a fairly rewarding experience. Week after week, I racked up the points and left my circle of friends in the dust.

My secret? Search marketing training.

footballFirst, for those of you who are clueless about Fantasy Football (FF), it’s become a very popular game following America’s most followed sport, Professional Football. It’s estimated that fifteen to twenty million people play FF and around twenty-two percent of males between eighteen and forty-nine are engaged annually in the pastime. It’s one of the fast growing hobbies in the world.

How to play? I’m not going to go into the minutia of FF here, but basically, you join a league, usually comprised of four to twelve people. At the beginning of the season, each “manager” picks their favorite real football players in a draft format. Based on how those real players perform statistically each week, your “team” is awarded points. You get the most points and you win. All of the number crunching is done via technology and many platforms including Yahoo and ESPN offer free play in order to tap into the advertising potential of this tight demographic.

FF does make watching the real games more exciting as you generally have something at stake in every game…whether it’s rooting for your own players to do well or your opponent’s players to do poorly.

So how did my search engine marketing training help me come out on top this year?

  • Data Driven Mindset. FF is completely about the numbers. As long as the players you have on your team do well in the real world, you will always rack up the points. You can’t trust your heart and try to pick your favorite players from your favorite teams. You have to let the data point you in the right direction. If you’re not good with numbers and data, all of the football knowledge in the world won’t be enough to win at FF consistently.
  • Number Crunching. It wouldn’t be online marketing if it didn’t require spreadsheets. After working on dozens of accounts in excess of fifty thousand terms, I know how to read the numbers, spot trends, and pivot around the data to gain the insight I need. A great resource exists at, the online site for Professional Football. There, you can “pull reports” on every player and every team. You can see who is hurt, who is outperforming expectations, and judge the value of each player.

See below… The chart shows a basic Team Defense report which could help figure out which players you should be starting on your fantasy lineup. There’s a lot of statistical help out there and the good number crunchers (i.e. SEM pros) can thrive on this data. football stats

  • Test and Optimize. Repeat. That’s the mantra of the SEM pro. It’s also the mantra of a Fantasy Football pro. You will have more players on your team than you can start each week, so picking the right lineup is crucial if you want to get the most possible points. You may have your mind set on a particular player, but some weeks you notice he just doesn’t perform as well as he should. It could be that he doesn’t do well in road games as he does at home or maybe his injury is worse than the team is reporting. Just like in search, the key is to find trends and bank on them. If your “attention driving” terms don’t convert well on the weekends, then try pulling them and putting the budget into just the weekdays. If that has no affect, then you can always revert back to the previous settings. But you’ll never know unless you test.
  • Understand that the Market is Ever Changing. A great example of that this year is Randy Moss, the brilliant wide receiver from the Patriots. Last year, he set an all time record for touchdowns at his position. This year, however, the man throwing him the ball, quarterback Tom Brady, got injured for the season in the first game. Brady’s backup was a quarterback that hadn’t started since high school. At that point, to hold on to Moss would have been a big mistake. Many FF players were able to trade Moss to other managers for a high value based on last year’s numbers. Think about how this relates back to search. You may tend to bid high on terms that have been good ROI drivers in the past, however, you have to see the complete picture and know when to alter your strategy.
  • Know Your Competitors. I feel this is one of the more underutilized strategies in both search marketing and Fantasy Football. In search, you must know your competitive landscape. Are there other advertisers in your space that have shown they want to dominate first position on specific keywords? Why get into a bidding war if you don’t have to. In order to create the best creative, you should see what ads are currently running on your top terms, and try to craft ads that either utilize the best techniques or create something completely different to help you stick out on the page. You can easily get complacent into a mindset of “just doing the best I can do” whereas just taking a little time and using a tool like AdGooroo will help you find untapped opportunities.

In FF, you also play a different manager every week. Look back at their previous weeks. Are they blowing people away or are they just scraping by? If you’re playing a heavyweight, you may want to take more risks and go with a lineup that may completely fall or have huge days for you. If you’re playing someone who isn’t doing particularly well, you can be a bit more conservative and come up with a lineup that isn’t going to break the bank, but you know will give you solid points. This particular technique helped me earn three or four wins this season that I might not have won.

Obviously, knowing a lot about football is going to help you win at Fantasy Football. However, I’ll put my money on the Search Pro every time.

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

Related Topics: Channel: Search Marketing | Search Marketing Toolbox


About The Author: has been a search marketer since 2003 with a focus on SEM technology. As a media technologist fluent in the use of leading industry systems, Josh stays abreast of cutting edge digital marketing and measurement tools to maximize the effect of digital media on business goals. He has a deep passion to monitor the constantly evolving intersection between marketing and technology. You can follow him on Twitter at @mediatechguy.

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  • shoppingengineguide

    I won my fantasy league this year too. Coincidentally, I was the only search marketer in the group. You could be on to something here…..join a league without any other SEMs and my chances of winning will increase.


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