Marketing at sporting events.
Marketing to fans has changed significantly over the years. Gone are the days when sponsorships filled billboards in the outfield. The free antenna topper to the first 500 fans doesn’t do much anymore to attract hordes of people. Much of this is due to the changing fan base.
In years past, fans focused on the game they went to watch the competition and went home. Today’s fans treat sports as a social event where interaction with the crowds and players is as much a part of the experience as the game itself. Fans expect to be a part of the event, not just spectators.
Given these trends, more teams turn to fan engagement platforms to boost fan participation and gain sponsorship dollars.
It’s all about the bottom line.
The sports industry is a multi-billion dollar industry in the United States. The North American sports market size in 2018 was $71.06 billion and is projected to be $80.5 billion in 2022. While ticket sales and media rights comprise a large portion of this revenue, sponsorships have grown substantially as a source of income. In fact, by 2023, the sponsorship sector may compose as much as $20.65 billion of this total.
Sports clubs are constantly battling to earn sponsorships and claim a piece of this revenue. One of the best ways to ensure sponsor dollars keep rolling in is to keep fans engaged with the team and the sponsors. Fan engagement platforms provide entertaining applications to keep fans’ interest before, during, and after the game connecting them with sponsors and providing valuable marketing information.
How do you keep your fans digitally engaged?
Several fan engagement platforms are working to bring fans, sponsors, and teams together to increase sports fan engagement. These companies work with teams to develop activations to capture fans’ attention and involve them in some activity.
While many people may remember playing the trivia games on the restaurant table to kill time until the food order arrives, these applications take it one step further. The activations offered by today’s platforms can make fans a part of the event. Applications can be configured to the specific audience and sponsor with customized activities.
Activations can capture email leads, entertain fans during breaks in the action, and deliver special offers to fans. Customization allows sponsors to increase their market share and expand their customer base.
The range of activations is nearly limitless and can include something as simple as digital scratch-offs delivered to attendees of an event. Gone are the days of stadium employees handing out paper coupons at the gate. The activations send coupons digitally directly to fans’ phones. To participate, individuals enter their email, providing sponsors and teams with ongoing marketing opportunities.
Activations also get fans interacting with one another and with the teams. Examples include digital scavenger hunts, where fans move around the stadium looking for QR codes, and pick ’em races where fans choose animated characters on the arena screen to win a digital race.
Customized activations can be developed to get fans in the stadium or arena working together for a common goal. One example is activations used to lead fans in chants when the opposing team is making a critical play.
The Chicago Bulls utilized fan engagement to partner with a sponsor giving out free hot dogs when the opposing team missed free throws. The activation encouraged fans to cheer and make noise distracting the opposing team. When the opposing team missed their free throws, fans received a digital coupon for free hot dogs.
How do trivia games help sponsors?
Now more than ever, gathering and evaluating customer information is key to marketing success. The third-party cookie is currently the king of information mining. Companies rely on these bits of digital data to cater to prospective clients and develop targeted advertisements. However, the cookie will soon be no more.
Privacy concerns played a large part in the death of the cookie, and Google plans to discontinue third-party cookies in 2023.
In the post cookie world, the question is how can businesses ensure their advertising dollars are well spent and reach the target audience? Digital engagement is key to maintaining information about customers and developing targeted marketing campaigns in the future.
In exchange for access to trivia games or scratch-offs, fans will enter their email information, preferences, and other data providing sponsors with valuable personal information.
At the 2022 MIT Sloane Sports Analytics Conference, Jen Zick with Adobe indicated that 83% of consumers are willing to share their data to create a personalized experience. As long as teams and sponsors provide something of value to the fans, they will provide their data.
The trivia games, scratch-offs, and other activations while providing entertainment to the fan serve to gather valuable marketing information. The use of activations during an event can collect real-time data about the fans and their habits. The activations provide an almost instant feedback loop that allows companies to develop their brand and target audience.
What does it all mean?
Undoubtedly, sports entertainment is a massive market projected to grow well into the future. The demand from spectators has evolved from just watching a match between two teams to an expectation for continual entertainment throughout the event. The savvied franchise will adapt and utilize all tools available to gain sponsorships and keep fans engaged.
The use of fan engagement platforms is a win not only for the sports team and the sponsor, but they also provide valuable content for the fan. Spectators demand continual entertainment. If teams are not providing entertainment, fans will find alternatives on their phones and digital devices to fill the voids during live events.
Engagement platforms allow sports teams to keep fans focused on the event and interacting with the venue. This interaction gets the sponsors in front of the fans and provides a better value for their advertising dollar.
With the death of the cookie, companies need to develop new methods to collect customer data and track advertising effectiveness. The use of digital engagement for sports teams can help fill the void.
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