Many fans use their MLS club’s available schedule sync to put the season’s games on their personal calendars. For some, it is an easy to to just get them all on there to know what days you will be traveling down to Buzzard Point; for others, like myself, it is helpful to put onto your family calendar so everyone knows what hours I will be watching soccer.
However, if you signed up through D.C. United’s website, today there was a calendar invite added for 12pm:
D.C. United was not the only team to do so, as Matt Montgomery on Twitter posted that a similar thing happened on his calendar for Real Salt Lake. Given that it is an MLS sale, my guess is that this was pushed out onto the calendars for every team in the league; I am currently working to confirm that.
MLS uses a third-party service, Stanza, to providing calendars for team schedules instead of publishing an iCal link.
Update (2:10pm): Stanza reached out to let us know that, while MLS uses their platform for calendaring now, this advertisement was published through MLS’s previous calendaring partner, eCal. And, when you look at the actual event placed on everyone’s calendars, you can definitely see that it came from eCal. Stanza states that they do not allow advertising through their service.
Here is the statement from Stanza:
Regarding the in-calendar advertising that some MLS fans saw recently, this was not through the Stanza platform. We’ve never had a case of teams using our platform to push advertising in the past. Our focus has always been to give fans the options to opt into the content they want to see in their calendars (stats, news, etc.) and encouraging teams to adopt a fan-first strategy. For example, with MLS, we ran a successful opt-in sweepstakes campaign as part of the Add-to-Calendar flow to drive awareness around ticket sales vs. a mass blast through fan calendars.
I have reached out to MLS with some questions about their advertising through calendar links; if I hear back, I will let you know what they say.
Regardless of whether MLS is allowed to do it, and they probably are, people online are not pleased:
My calendar is how I plan my life. I freaked out because I saw I had a meeting I didn’t remember that was back to back with a travel meeting. Then it was an ad. Just unacceptable.— Sarah (@schneid3306) January 30, 2020