3 Mind-Blowing Ways Data Intelligence Drives Sports Marketing
Posted by Shaziya B on Wednesday, June 08, 2016 - 17:04
Sports is the highest level of entertainment for many of us, but we forget that it also puts food on the table for employees and employers in an entire industry, including managers, coaches, and of course, the players. With that comes a great responsibility to keep increasing fan awareness and engagement, whereby increasing revenue for the teams and leagues.
The following are some recently successful strategies used by franchises to nurture and build relationships with fans and sponsors, and also use performance metrics to maximize player potential:
Enhanced fan experience.
The business of sports has increasingly become tied to that of capitalizing on technology. These days, franchises use mobile and cloud technology to enhance the fan experience both in their homes, and as live spectators in stadiums and arenas. From fans being able to stream games on their mobile devices and purchasing tickets to the next game from a mobile-optimized site, to using web analytics to advertise upcoming events in the form of ads on sites their fans visit most.
Franchises want to take it at a step further.
Many spectators constantly have their devices out during the game they are attending, either for taking that perfect Instagram shot of their favorite player or tweeting how terrible the refs are at their jobs, but some innovative franchises are capitalizing on this ever-growing trend. For example, the Sacramento Kings arena, set to open in 2016, will offer guests a mobile application for easy check-in, virtually ushering you to your seat, indicating shortest bathroom lines, seat upgrade options, ordering concessions from your seat and a WiFi connection. These features will enhance the fan experience and add to the unforgettable memory of watching the Kings take on their Western Conference foes.
“Sports is a people business, so we’re looking for ways to use technology to further engage with people,” said John Abbamondi, Vice President of the NBA’s Team Marketing & Business Operations division. Enhancing fan engagement involves going through every bit of testing to see what works, what doesn’t and what could be improved - this evolution is just starting and there will be learning curves, but all will be well-worth the effort for this hugely popular industry.
To follow suit with connecting to fans on a more personal level, Real Madrid’s CEO, Jose Angel Sanchez, announced a partnership with Microsoft that is hoped to lead the legendary European football club into a digital transformation. Leveraging cloud and data technologies will help Real Madrid target and cultivate 450 million fans around the world, through loyalty offers and personalized messages. Using predictive capabilities, the partnership allows Real Madrid to provide more relevant content to their fans through their mobile apps, and most importantly, bridge the gap between the fan and the player.
Data quality provides personal information about fans and helps teams “match the experience that matters most with the right fans,” said Ben Gumpert, Senior Vice President of Marketing and Strategy for the Sacramento Kings.
Social media integrates the brand globally.
A franchise’s ability to interact with its fans away from its primary venue is good for business. Obviously, but the question is, how? The team has the option to either limit their fans from knowing happenings in the front office or completely open up to those most supportive of the organization. Providing a mix of team-related media through videos, player interviews and other behind-the-scenes snippets, the team has the ability to be in front of their loyal following 24/7.
From a business standpoint, there are at least two main advantages to this:
1) Sponsorship and sports integration. Consumer brands are increasingly looking to partner with sports organizations that align well with their own message. Take for example, the NBA's Golden State Warriors, whose arena is sponsored by tech giant and huge bay area employer, Oracle. The company knows the region and has been there for decades, and by pairing themselves with California's fastest-growing fanbase, they are able to leverage the team’s identity for being young, trendsetting and innovative.
2) Globalization. Ever wonder why the Jacksonville Jaguars have games in London throughout their season? This is the Jaguars’ way of increasing brand awareness globally. Addtionally, Kings owner, Vivek Ranadive, who is Indian American, has discussed raising the team’s presence in India by creating a team website in Hindi, hosting international video conferences during games and sending personnel on outreach trips to the South Asian country. The team made headlines abroad by signing the first Indian basketball player, Toronto-born Sim Bhullar. Furthermore, Ranadive has mentioned the possibility of another Indian player joining the NBA, which would benefit the team by increasing its fanbase, as has happened with France, China and Argentina in the recent decades with their talented, homegrown exports.
Data intelligence is used across the globe and mostly paired with traditional business practices, but in sports, it’s to help franchises make better player-related decisions. One way to do this is through the practice of using statistics with predictive modeling to build a winning team.
Teams across the NBA, such as the Golden State Warriors, San Antonio Spurs and the Houston Rockets, use big data sets to help owners and coaches scout and recruit players with the largest upside, and mold game plans based on past player performance and trends.
The NBA, in its 2013-2014 season, adopted the STATS SportVU tracking platform, which is a system comprised of six cameras in each arena, which measures the movement of the ball and every player on the court, to generate a database of key performance information.
As with any data, sets change with every play, which then shifts the emphasis from the amount of points scored to more in-depth and accurate measurements of a player’s overall efficiency, productivity per touch and defensive effectiveness. This data then helps the coaching staff determine what changes need to be made on subsequent plays and during future games, as well as player rotation and even for roster changes.
According to Golden State Warriors 2015 NBA Finals MVP, forward Andre Igoudala, the data’s greatest impact is in helping management build a team of effective and compatible players. As you can see here, it's not just the team's data analysts who find this information pertinent to building a winning franchise.
Data used in marketing is an analytical tool to track your performance and evaluate changes to be made, but it doesn’t always win you a marketing campaign if you don't tell a story with the numbers. Just like that, any big data usage for performance purposes in a sports team will not help them win a game, rather it’ll help the team gain competitive advantage and allow them to better predict how a change in play-calling or lineup may affect their chances of victory.
Currently, coaches and trainers are playing the educated guessing game when it comes to a player’s health and rest cycle, but data trends can vastly improve this imperative process. Data analysis is also contributing to better biomechanics in sports such as wearable devices, which help determine the physical stress of a player, hydration levels and even predict the likelihood of injury so that a player can lessen their risk of missing extended periods of time.
With data intelligence becoming a key source for all business decisions, the business of sports has become increasingly aware of the technologies best suited to help their teams maximize revenue, their players to perform at peak condition and to ensure their fans are engaged and wanting more.