There is no better time to be involved in sport as the convergence of technology and the fan becomes a major aspect in organisations overall strategy. Fans can expect another quantum leap from Australian teams, organisations and strategies in 2014, but here is my predictions of what I’m particularly looking forward to seeing.
10 #Digisport predictions
(Sports Geek note: #digisport is a hashtag for all things sports & digital as opposed to #smsports for social media & sports)
1. Mass content but targeted promotion
Content strategies are changing. As we begin to learn more about the audiences that are consuming our content, the ability to make content that can be shaped or targeted to the most profitable ‘personas’ becomes most valuable.
The ability to then target those pieces of content via in depth knowledge of Facebook’s power editor or a detailed CRM is what will make the difference to it’s success in 2014. Look to see team’s pushing content that is much more appropriate to you, it won’t be an accident.
2. Geo targeted innovations
Geo-targeted technology has not yet reached it’s peak in Australia, partly because of connectivity available in Stadiums, but also because it’s largely misunderstood. Using mobile technology is key to this and with the introduction of wifi at many stadiums in the country, it’s only a matter of time before fans attending games are being delivered exclusive content within a geo-fenced boundary around the perimeter of the stadium.
It has two major benefits; 1. It increases the value of attending the game as opposed to fans at home on the couch, and 2. it helps promote purchases while fans are in a buying mood. Where else would they feel FOMO of not being in a team’s colours than at a stadium?
A deeper look could see targeted promotions within a stadium. The MLB has introduced the use of iBeacons to help promote offers and deals at the nearest merch stand straight to the fan’s seat (as Sean discussed with Kenny Lauer from Warriors). The ease of use and conveniency will also add another layer to the game day experience.
3. Mobile traffic and commercialisation
I’m calling it this year, this is the year that I think team’s mobile traffic will overtake their desktop traffic (if it hasn’t already)! It’s been increasing for the past few years and now it’s time to capitalise on the commercialisation of the mobile revolution.
So many apps and mobile sites have been targeted at information providing as opposed to promoting purchasing opportunities. Look to see merchandise, memberships (if applicable), tickets, food and beverage (see prior point) and pay walled content be front and centre in 2014. If they’re not, your team is missing out!
The more savvy the commercial teams, the more you will see campaigns that are built for mobile before desktop as opposed to the other way around.
Increased connectivity on game days will be the single biggest influence on the increase of mobile traffic and I can’t wait to see what some of the teams have in store for fans this year.
4. Gamification (bahaviour analysis)
I’ll admit, I hate the buzz word gamification and prefer the term ‘behaviour analysis’. By this I mean encouraging fans to perform more of the same behaviours and providing them with every avenue possible to discover the content that is most applicable to them.
This, combined with rewards for fans who perform more of the same behaviours will allow clubs to train and influence fans as the competitive mindset comes out amongst sports fans and the rewards become more valuable.
It’s important that this isn’t just related to digital activities though, the ability to link it to team’s biggest income drivers (usually tickets and memberships) will be critical to it’s success.
It’s a new area for many sports teams around the world that I don’t think has yet been capitalised on, but look for it to become increasingly prevalent this year. (Watch Sean’s #SportsGaming panel from #SportsConf)
5. Targeted communications, particularly EDM’s
How often do you sign up for a newsletter or purchase a ticket from a team and the first offer they send you is for a 10 game membership? I’d like to think there were a few more steps before I was at that level. As more details become available through the ever growing sources of information, you can expect communications to be gradual as teams encourage you to travel along a fan continuum.
Behind any good targeted communications is a refined and detailed Customer Relationship Manager (CRM). There aren’t many clubs that have fully nailed it yet, but when they do you can expect communications to be much more refined and detailed, particularly via email.
As discussed earlier, Facebook’s power editor and new custom audiences manager fits perfectly to add a new element to the CRM and team’s targeted communications. Not only will you receive targeted communications in your inbox, expect to see it on your Facebook feed as well.
6. Data or pay walled content
There is much debate on paid content from media outlets in Australia at the moment, I won’t bother delving in to it here but you can expect to see more content behind some sort of wall from teams in the future.
Some team’s have tried paid content in the past couple of years and they’ll continue to come up with ideas of what they can offer to those fans. Other teams will most likely begin to dabble in placing exclusive content behind a data wall (a free signup form) to gather fan’s details and enhance their database.
Personally, I don’t think fans are quite yet ready to pay for anything that is in the Australian sports industry at the moment. However, it’s only a matter of time (pending league’s infrastructure setup) before we’ll start seeing some great videos and exclusive stories that fans will have no choice but to want to pay for.
7. Live behind the scenes segments
Live video was a big hit in 2013. Teams and organisations broadcast major announcements live and some teams dabbled in G+ hangouts, such as the Golden State Warriors #warriorslive hangout that Sean attended.
I’m looking forward to see more live content outside of media conferences, video’s such as pre and post game shows are a great way to capitalise on the increased eyeballs on the club’s site.
As infrastructure is improved, so too does the ability to watch HD video on mobile or deliver it tablets without the high data costs to consumers. Weekly shows with player Q&A, behind the scenes exclusives and ‘panel’ type setup shows will help train fans to tune in to their teams via their computer or mobile at 7:00pm at night, rather than commercial television.
We’ve seen the rise of shows from Collingwood, Essendon, West Coast and the Broncos but how long will it be before we see clubs making some substantial dollars from sponsor integrations?
8. YouTube becomes a major content platform
Gone are the days where clubs and organisations can ignore YouTube as a platform. It’s the second most visited site in the world (only behind that of it’s owner, Google) and clubs are missing out on valuable eye balls if they don’t have a presence there.
Enough of the arguments of it’s insular setup and it’s lack of traffic it drives, administrators need to see the bigger picture and that exposing their brand to millions of people around the world will help keep them coming back for more AND gain interest via their native site. Everyone is saying that ‘video is king’, but how can they say that when they don’t have a presence on the biggest video platform in the world?
Admittedly, there are rights issues over match footage that need to be dealt with but the sooner the owners of those rights accept that YouTube isn’t going anyway and instead choose to use it their benefit, the better it will be for all fans.
According to Nielsen, YouTube reaches more US adults ages 18-34 than any cable network. This trend has seen the USA take massive leaps and bounds with YouTube in the past two years, we can only hope that this progresses in 2014 and that this time next year, this won’t be an issue for any club or organisation in Australia anymore.
9. Drop the ‘Big Data’ tag to analysing the data that matters
2013′s hot phrase was ‘Big Data’. Everywhere you looked people were talking about it, some said they knew what it was while others claimed it wasn’t an issue. I instead think that this year, sports digital marketers will start analysing the data that matters. Fiona Green agreed with this take on SGP recently.
There is only so much you can do with the countless amounts of data sources that we have these days. In 2014, I’m looking forward to seeing teams going back to the basics and analysing what matters most and using that data to the best of their ability. This may mean different things for different organisations but the principle remains the same of keeping it simple without over complicating it.
10. Using and encouraging fan generated content
Gone are the days that the official club site wouldn’t provide a somewhat contentious opinion on it’s platform. Traditional media have thrived on it for years and every day club’s digital teams edge closer to becoming their own mini media outlet.
Fans will be encouraged to submit their opinion and voice on the club’s sites and it will re-purposed to generate further content and interaction with fans. Not only does it give the fan recognition for submitting their opinion it motivates them to continue to return to the site. How do you think fan forums have thrived for so long? Look for a similar setup (again, they’ll have to give data to the organisation to sign up) from clubs in the coming year. Take a look at what the Seahawks did with #TappedIn site.
Connect & Join the conversation
Have I missed out on any or do you think I’m off the mark with some of the items? Let us know via Twitter @DanPinne, LinkedIn or via the comments below. Give the Sports Geek Podcasts I’ve been on a listen.
See you at #SBNight
Hope to see you at #SBNight at HONEY on Tuesday.