Michael Horton is the EVP & Country Manager, HCL Technologies – Australia and New Zealand. In this piece, he explains how data is being used to transform the fan experience in sport and how modern sports entities can deliver a data-driven strategy.
While the limitations imposed by the pandemic on live attendance of sports events will dissipate sooner or later, the challenge of delivering an optimal experience to the fans is a question that has troubled sports entities since before 2020. Let’s put it this way: while the pandemic has imposed restrictions on how the sports industry attracts and retains fans, it has also shown a way for the industry to supersede itself.
Gone are the days when ticket sales at age-old stadiums and linear broadcasts on television bring satisfactory revenue figures to the industry. Today, the game has changed – and the business of sportainment must change along with it. How? As Gartner put it, more than 80 per cent of businesses will be competing solely based on customer experience by 2020. That time has passed, and the sports industry has been dragged into the competition. Time to up the fan experience. Read on to find out how.
In-home and live attendance: a symbiotic relationship
The question of what constitutes the fan experience finds its cues in the sporting event itself. The thrill of being seated in the midst of a 50,000-strong crowd, the thrill of the leap of victory, and a shared sentiment that connects each and every fan to all the others in the stadium – all of these aspects are critical drivers of the fan experience. However, as recording and broadcasting technologies, combined with the penetration of television across the globe, competed with the sensation of physical attendance, the business in the stadium has suffered as a result.
And yet, time has outdone that trend too – today, younger audiences seldom spend time watching TV, and sports broadcast ratings are suffering as a result. Television is no longer just a push-mechanism. It’s now a two-way street. Where to go from here? A key lesson contained in this shift is that the in-stadium experience strongly powers the experience of the game outside it. Although, not in traditional terms. Looking at it another way, fans that attend the game in the stadium are more likely to subscribe to direct broadcasting services online, buy their favourite league’s merchandise, and return to the stadium once again – if, they had a great experience in the first place. What constitutes that great experience today, and how to deliver it?
The game-changer: data-driven hyper-personalisation
In the post-2020 era, data holds the key to the fan’s experience and loyalty. As more and more users spend more time on mobile apps, the nexus of engagement with fans is tilting towards these channels. Nurture your leads, attract them with relevant offers, and bring them to the game – and perhaps, even to buy merchandise or subscribe to value-added services. To power such a model, first-party fan data – that can be collected through digital channels like browsers, apps that attract, and digital ticket sales – is the new gold in the sports industry.
However, many sports entities are also leveraging second-party data obtained through sponsors and broadcast channels, and leveraging a 360-degree approach to enrich the profile of each and every potential fan, as their business strives to turn them into a real fan (read: superfan) – not just of athletes and their leagues, but of the experience too. The race to hyper-personalise experiences has led sports entities to build a complete and comprehensive view of each customer, where their preferences, their social networks, and their lifetime value can be tracked with ease.
Tech-powered experience delivery for today’s fans
While hyper-personalisation solves the question of relevance when it comes to attracting fans with the right offers, delivering on the promised experience is a key piece of the equation too. For instance, when it comes to in-stadium game attendance, will the customer spend hours navigating the parking and entry queues only to be met with another one at the food and beverage stalls; or will they be guided through the parking lot on their navigation system, rushed in through a contactless entry that’s closest to their seat, and greeted with the snacks and beverages they had ordered while booking their tickets online?
Modern-day stadiums must bring the crowd within a few feet of the action, through VR and AR devices, and make the crowd experience appealing, rather than a reason to stay on the couch. Such developments also point to cues that help enrich the remote experience. Imagine a fan that can simply sit in their living room, put on a VR headset, and switch across multiple streams to experience the game from more than one place in the stadium. The possibilities are endless when it comes to delivering the digitally augmented game – and IoT, AR and VR, and AI and ML technologies are at the heart of it.
Bringing it all together
So, how can such a vision be set into action? Enriching the fan experience must form a part (a significant one) in the digitally evolved avatar of the new-age sports entity. Operations must be digitised, and key resources must be mobilised to shift the focus to where it is needed the most – that is, on the customer. In this process, close partnerships with technology companies will constitute a key step in helping sports entities, that today are more or less devoid of digitally dexterous talent. Tech companies’ know-how can bridge the gap between a sports entity’s tech-centric vision and their strategic position in the business of sport.
Moreover, aligning the data strategy of modern sports entities with the evolving legislation on data residency, flow, and usage will form a stepping stone to building trust with customers. To win them over, a responsible approach to data usage and security needs to be vocalised – following which, the digitally augmented game can be suggestively sold via carefully personalised routes. While this shift has already occurred in other industries, the sports industry is yet to see the merits of a digitally hinged market – in other words, the next big game has only begun.
Independent brand and digital agency, Archibald Williams (AW) has been appointed to lead the NBA account across the APAC region. The NBA is one of the most prestigious sporting leagues in the world and basketball is one of the fastest-growing sports in Australia. Effective immediately, AW said it was “excited” to work across all digital, […]
B&T's shining a light on industry folk prior to adland. Preference given to anyone purporting actual UFO abduction.
Leading digital outdoor company QMS has announced it is the first-ever inaugural partner for Most Contagious APAC, the landmark London event by creative and strategic intelligence company Contagious, which will be showcased in Australia on Tuesday, 12 December in Sydney and Wednesday, 13 December in Melbourne. Most Contagious is an event that delivers key advertising […]
Omnicom’s data and analytics division Annalect has partnered with Meta, giving it access to Advanced Analytics (AA) – one of Meta’s privacy-focused measurement solutions – to provide Omnicom’s clients with future-proof, next-level measurement. Omnicom is the first holding company to have access to AA. AA allows advertisers to combine their first-party data with Meta’s ads […]
WPP’s AKQA has launched Fixmas.gift, an environmentally conscious AI-powered DIY assistant, affectionately known as Fixie, for a one-stop solution for all things repair. Fixmas.gift hosts an array of guides and inspiration to empower people to prolong the lives of their belongings or purchase pre-owned items that need a little love and care. Fixie can: Help […]
Marc Collister (pictured) of P2 Content Creators spills the beans on his 2024 predictions drawing from two decades of experience in the advertising, film and television industry. I’m certain it will come as no surprise that in 2024, we can expect our industry to move at breakneck speed again. With even more rapid shifts in […]
Zeno Australia has announced expanded creative design capabilities and the appointment of Jim Michell (lead image) to its senior leadership team. The new moves support strong growth in the region. Zeno Australia’s clients, including Abano Healthcare, Motorola and Yorkshire Tea, can now tap into a suite of creative design services to augment the agency’s work […]
Assembled Media, is drawing upon the creative power of TikTok Creator Marketplace to help generate unique, impactful content for iconic stationery brand, BIC. The social activation campaign titled ‘A Pen for Every Side of You’ promotes the flexibility of BIC’s 4 Colours pen and is active nationwide on the BIC Stationery TikTok account. The campaign […]
Pinterest reckons jellyfish & moody cowboys will be big in 2024. Refused to be drawn on the return of shoulder pads.
IAB Australia has launched ‘Evolution in Market Mix Modelling’, the fourth module in its Marketing Measurement Innovation Series, which has been developed by IAB Australia’s Ad Effectiveness Council. The module explores what is driving the increased use of MMM and how the technique is evolving with advances in computing power and machine learning to provide […]
Scope3, the collaborative sustainability platform leading the decarbonisation of media and advertising, announced the addition of digital out-of-home (DOOH) to its emissions measurement. With DOOH ad spending predicted to grow from $17B in 2023 to nearly $24B by 2028, measuring this channel brings us one step closer to understanding the total impact of digital advertising […]
NRF 2024: Retail’s Big Show Asia Pacific, is now open for online registrations for the main conference. Jointly organized by the National Retail Federation and Comexposium, Retail’s Big Show Asia Pacific will take place from 11 – 13 June, 2024 at the Sands Expo and Convention Centre in Singapore and is expected to draw thousands […]