Communicating to sports fans based on their specific location can significantly improve that interaction for fans, rights holders and brands, whether this is based on which country a fan is in, in what context they are watching (in the stadium, at home, in the pub) or simply being able to reach fans on the move as they follow their favourite team.
Much more could be done to embrace new technologies, particularly in mobile, that enable rights holders to maintain a relationship with their fans 24/7 and provide greater commercial opportunities.
Fans at Home
It is no surprise that there is so much marketing waste when it comes to shirt and perimeter board advertising. Many lead sponsors of Premier League football clubs do not even have an interest in the UK market. Traditional sponsorship assets are less relevant for global rights in a world where advertisers expect highly targeted, flexible and measureable campaigns.
- Perimeter Board Advertising: Supponor has developed technology that can display different messages on in-stadia perimeter advertising to different TV audiences even though they are watching identical feeds in every other way. This will have an immediate effect on the club / league’s ability to sell more effective partnerships. If this technology can develop further using a data led approach then fans could soon be seeing feeds personalised to them based on their online searches or TV habits.
- Mobile Apps: According to Nielson 80% of the TV audience uses a second screen when watching their favourite programmes. Fans are looking to extend their TV experience with additional content, arguably making TV / perimeter board advertising less viewed. Rights holders could identify fans “on the sofa” and deliver specific content to those fans, enabling them to participate in the TV experience by voting for man of the match or try of the month. Linking the TV to the mobile enables fans at home to actively participate in the match rather than passively consume content.
League vs. Club Sponsors
Product category exclusivity is often sold as an additional benefit of a sponsorship. However, as leagues and clubs sell rights independently, this can result in two competitive brands trying to reach the same audience – one through the club and one through the league. As both expect “exclusivity” in their category, seeing their main competitor next to them on the perimeter board advertising can create friction.
As a marketing platform, mobile removes this problem immediately. Fans can be segmented by location and the content managed in a way that club sponsors can be displayed to the fans in the stadium and on the same piece of content, league sponsors could be displayed to fans watching on TV, which is usually the domain of a central right.
Local area marketing
Sports matches have a huge economic impact on the local area but rights holders often find it difficult to capitalise on this. There are two areas where we could see growth in the next few seasons:
- Rewards schemes: If fans can receive benefits from all their transactions ranging from cafes to travel and redeem these rewards with their club then each party benefits from the retailer’s association with the club. Rewards 4 Group have delivered a successful scheme with the Jockey Club and now boast over 1 million members collecting points from over 4,000 retailers. By creating local associations who would not be able to afford sponsorship packages a club benefits from matchday footfall outside of the stadium and even further afield.
- Location Technology: Rights holders who have invested in native iOS / Android apps can also use location technology such as iBeacons or tracking Wi-Fi hotspots to provide relevance to their fan communication. Take Guinness’s sponsorship of the Pro12 – fans that walk into pubs serving Guinness on a match day could be rewarded with offers direct to their phone using location technology and further establishing Guinness’s association with the league.
Fans are consuming sport wherever they go and the more technology can be embraced to enhance that experience the more value rights holders and brands will generate.