BLOG: Split Screen Sunday

Following what is arguably one of the most incredible sporting Sundays in living memory, the traditional rating figures for the F1 British Grand Prix, Men’s ICC Cricket World Cup and Wimbledon Finals were released the following day.

With Sky Sports releasing coverage to a free-to-air audience on Channel 4, 8.3 million people watched the drama of a Super Over unfold, whilst a peak of 9.6m watched Novak Djokovic’s victory over Roger Federer in an equally titanic battle at Wimbledon and a further 3.7m viewers tuning in to see Lewis Hamilton win a record-breaking sixth British Grand Prix. In addition, the Netball World Cup in Liverpool was in its first weekend on Sky Sports and live-streamed in the UK by Sky Sports over YouTube.

However, on an afternoon described as ‘Split Screen Sunday’ by Sports Pro writer Eoin Connolly, two interesting topics were at the forefront of conversation here at InCrowd:

Servicing Fans

The debate around OTT vs Traditional Broadcast has been rumbling for a while now, but if anything, Sunday 14th July highlighted that ultimately fans don’t care through which platform the sport is delivered, as long as they can watch it. With 3 events happing concurrently, fans were left to argue which event took precedent and made it on to the TV, before utilising laptops, phones and tablets to stream the rest of the action. Clearly, this is a challenge, not only to the fan experience but to the whole concept of ‘attention’ which is so fundamental to the broadcast commercial model.

As a ‘Pom’ living in Australia, I’ve had the pleasure of using the Fox Sports-backed OTT service Kayo Sports, which includes a split-screen option that allows viewers to watch up to four streams at once. With sports scheduling becoming ever more congested, it will be interesting to see how broadcasters & rightsholders use technology to adapt to this challenge.

Audience Understanding

Whilst the traditional broadcast figures highlighted the impact that the sporting drama had on mass audiences, it was digital where the conversation and engagement were really happening. You only need to look at Google Trends to see the incredible spike that occurred when people grabbed their phones to Google what a ‘Super Over’ was!

As sport grapples with an explosion of media platforms and channels, it is becoming more and more important for sports rightsholders to own these conversations on digital, and to understand the ‘fans behind the figures’. For example, the BBC’s live feed broke records by recording 3.9m unique browsers…but how many of this 3.9m are known to the rightsholders of Cricket, Tennis & F1? Traditional figures behind the broadcast, ticketing and merchandise only tell a part of the engagement story. At InCrowd, we are delving into more and more data sources to not only identify each fan but to uncover & understand their emotional attachments to the sport. This ensures that sports can communicate and develop new relationships with each fan on a more personal level.

Sunday 14th July was undoubtedly the best sporting day of the year; big sporting moments saw big viewing numbers and new fans were brought into the worlds of Cricket, Tennis and Formula 1. But who are these fans? Data and real audience understanding would ensure that these relationships can be nurtured and harnessed over the subsequent 364 days…

 

Source Material: http://www.sportspromedia.com/opinion/cricket-world-cup-final-wimbledon-f1-british-gp-split-screen-broadcast

QPR FC & Ticketmaster Sport deliver mobile ticketing first for UK sport

  • QPR FC offers fans in-app mobile ticketing in partnership with Ticketmaster Sport.
  • First UK football club to integrate new mobile ticketing technology that allows tickets to be transferred between operating systems.
  • New technology features a host of anti-tout mechanisms.
  • Improves stadium security by giving the club the ability to identify anonymous fans.

In partnership with Ticketmaster Sport, Queens Park Rangers have become the first UK football club to integrate the only in-app mobile ticketing solution that allows secure ticket transfers across operating systems, by implementing newly developed and innovative mobile ticketing technology from fan engagement specialists, InCrowd.

Both matchday and season tickets have been available in the official QPR app to those who opted into the trial phase in September 2018 and are now available to all fans attending games at Loftus Road via a personal in-app ticket wallet. Available to QPR fans for the last five home games, 12% of fans are now using the new ticket wallet to enable stress-free access to Loftus Road on match days.

Individuals that purchase multiple tickets can also ‘share’ tickets with other supporters via the official QPR app; a much more efficient and secure process than exchanging physical tickets. To activate their tickets securely, recipients are asked to download the official QPR app and register their details providing the club with the data required to know exactly who is in the stadium, improving safety creating more direct connections between QPR and their fans. Perhaps most importantly, tickets can be transferred between mobile devices and between operating systems; believed to be a first for mobile ticketing in UK sport.

The QPR ticket wallet also features a range of anti-tout mechanisms all of which are highly configurable according to a client’s specific requirements. These mechanisms include hidden barcodes, device locking, screenshot prevention and several other features that provide a sense of security to not only the fans but to the integrity of the club.

The ticket wallet technology created by InCrowd enables fans to enjoy a seamless, stress-free and engaging journey from their front door to their seat in the stadium. The official QPR app also provides fans with a set of team and venue specific features and exclusive content. This delivers an unrivalled match day experience for the fan and provides QPR with the ability to connect the ticket holder to a previously anonymous device, significantly improving their marketable database.

David Scriven, Digital Content Manager at QPR says, “The QPR Ticket Wallet has helped simplify the matchday for fans at Loftus Road. Not only can fans now access the latest news at the push of a button they can also access the stadium with one. By working closely with Ticketmaster and implementing this advanced, fan first technology from InCrowd we’ve been able to deliver a unique product in an efficient manner with significant upsides to supporter experience and the businesses digital objectives.”

“Digital ticketing is the future. It’s easy for fans, provides venues and events with more ways to engage with them and increases security for all,” says Ian Sanders, Director of Ticketmaster Sport “This integration with InCrowd demonstrates the ability Ticketmaster Sport has to work with partners in exciting and innovative ways. It’s been great to work on this project and we’re looking forward to rolling this out to many more of our clients in the near future.”

To benefit from this one-of-a-kind ticketing service please contact enquiries@incrowdsports.com

About Ticketmaster Sport – Ticketmaster Sport, a division of Ticketmaster International, is the leading technology and services partner for UK & International sport, providing ticketing services, venue technology, project management and marketing reach to the biggest and most exciting sport brands around the world – www.ticketmastersport.com

Boxing Day Sport

How the FA could work with clubs on Boxing Day to boost family attendance for women’s football

Boxing Day sport is a fantastic tradition. From Premier League football to Melbourne’s annual test cricket match, it is a true family occasion and has proven to generate well above average ticket sales. But what happens when your team is playing away? This is something experienced by many fans – left without a match to attend at a point in Christmas when, let’s face it, we probably all need something to get us off the sofa and away from Home Alone! So, what can be done to give those fans somewhere to go and something to do?

Thousands of empty seats and thousands of fans wanting to buy tickets
The Premier League designs a schedule to ensure away fans don’t have to travel too far on Boxing Day, but there are still thousands of fans missing out on attending sport with their families.

Ticketmaster’s State of Play research (http://www.ticketmastersport.com/stateofplay) shows that family time is a major reason for attending sporting events and Boxing Day stands out as one of the biggest on the UK calendar for family gatherings. At the same time, there were 350,000 seats left empty in stadia around the country because teams were playing away games. So, we have empty seats and families desperate to fill them. This is an open opportunity for rights holders.

Prime opportunity to promote women’s football

This is an opportunity to promote Women’s Football to a fanbase that would not normally attend. The FA could schedule local derby matches which would give greater context to the match whilst enabling both the home and away teams and spectators to easily attend the game.

Here is a list of matches that would have been possible in 2018; had these gone ahead it would not only have made for an effective promotional campaign for women’s football, but I am sure clubs would see good attendance figures.

  • Arsenal vs. Tottenham Hotspur at the Emirates
  • Manchester City vs. Manchester United at the Etihad
  • Chelsea vs. QPR at Stamford Bridge
  • Everton vs. Liverpool at Goodison Park
  • Brighton & Hove Albion vs. Lewes at the Amex
  • Huddersfield Town vs. Bradford City at the John Smith’s Stadium
  • West Ham United vs. Millwall at the London Stadium
  • AFC Bournemouth vs. Southampton at the Vitality Stadium
  • Cardiff City vs. Swansea City at the Cardiff City Stadium

There are, of course, mis-matches above although I am not sure that matters (it doesn’t for the men’s FA cup). There could also be issues with policing these events when another football match is happening just down the road but this can be managed with scheduling across 26 and 27 December.

Rugby fans in the same situation

This “away day” problem for fans is even more apparent in rugby union. When Boxing Day falls mid-week, as has just done, it is not possible to schedule a match without cancelling one of the weekends either side to allow for proper player recovery time.

Other teams (e.g. non-league, schools, Barbarians) could step up and take on the annual Boxing Day slot at each of the 12 Premiership Rugby grounds. It would not take much for this to become part of the Christmas holiday routine for rugby loving families; perhaps something for CVC to consider as part of their new investment in the sport.

Marketing and fan experience funding

For both of these examples, ticketing is going to be the greatest revenue stream for those involved and costs will be manageable without the larger player fees to consider. Focusing on marketing the event well and investment into the fan experience will be crucial in creating an annual, much anticipated event for football and rugby fans.

Furthermore, without this match being confined by the usual playing conditions or regulations (these matches would not be part of the Women’s Super League for example) they could involve star players drafted in from the US leagues to provide an additional layer of interest for fans. It is also an excellent time to involve charity initiatives as Sunderland have done so successfully with their recent “Gift of Football” campaign. There are a multitude of possibilities!

Christmas time is all about bringing people together after all. I love Boxing Day sport and think there there is huge potential for organisations and clubs to promote women’s sport, provide opportunities for lower league teams and reach out to communities around the UK.

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The sports industry is changing & at InCrowd, we help our clients adapt & evolve. Using technology and insight, we give rights holders & their commercial partners the power to deliver personalised content and experiences, for every fan.

Find out more at www.incrowdsports.com

5 Digital Sports Trends 2019

5 Digital Sports Trends To Watch in 2019

InCrowd’s Dan Lipman takes a look at the top five digital trends and discusses their impact on the sports landscape in 2019 and the future.

1 – Virtual Reality (VR): Is it now or never?
Although forecasters predict that the VR industry will grow by 700% in the next five years, increasing to a whopping £169 billion, VR remains the most polarising topic in the sports and tech industry right now. Major brands, right holders and players are throwing their weight behind it. Prime examples include Ceek’s partnership with Dani Carvahal which will show behind the scenes access to his life at Real Madrid, European Tour allowing fans to take VR tours of famous courses and European Championship Athletics recently launching their own VR app. Perhaps 2019 will be the year that the VR debate can truly be decided.

2 – OTT: The opportunity with owned audiences has never been greater
OTT seems to be the topic on everyone’s lips right now. The recent Premier League and EFL broadcast negotiations have been fascinating, in particular the impact of the increasing capability of rights holders to deliver higher quality OTT to their growing audiences. With a recent Facebook study showing that 45% of live audiences would pay to see a favourite athlete, team, or performer on an online stream we’re certain to see more innovation in this area. Eleven Sports new “room” functionality, which allows stream viewers to invite up to four other people to watch a specific live event, is a great example of this innovation. While in the room, users can see, hear and message each other during the live broadcast of the game.

3 – Betting: US online betting landscape takes shape
At the time of writing, eight states now have full-scale legalised sports betting, up from two since the New Jersey bill was passed 5 months ago; another 23 states are not far behind. Since then it’s been hard to keep up with the news, from organisations across sports data, technology, casinos and rights holders getting on board. In the last week alone, The NBA announced its first betting data partnership with Sportradar and Genius Sports & Major League Baseball teamed up with MGM Resorts International to manage their sportsbook. With these sporting superpowers shifting into high gear, 2019 is going to be an enthralling year for the sports betting industry in the United States.

4 – E-sports: The worlds of e-sports and traditional sport will become ever more intertwined.
With more fans tuning in to the League of Legends tournaments than the Super Bowl Final and numbers closing in quickly on the scale of the Champions League Final, it’s no wonder sports bodies are moving quickly to get a piece of the e-sports action. Whilst it’s now increasingly common for most sports clubs to have their own dedicated e-sports team, the trend on the rise for 2019 is the in-game partnerships that are starting to emerge. The NFL are one of the rights holders leading the pack, with their virtual shirts and shops in partnership with Epic Games’ Fortnite; NFL team “outfits” are now available in the Battle Royale Item Shop for fans to purchase – very cool! Keep an eye out for more of your favourite sports teams appearing in the virtual universes.

5 – Cryptocurrency: New revenue streams emerging
It’s no surprise that Crypto brands have very quickly seen the attractiveness of partnerships within the sports industry. And it’s an exciting time for audience owners in sports with a new revenue stream presenting itself here; not a common occurrence. We’ve seen big rights holder partnerships announced over the last 18 months such as Arsenal and Cashbet and many with players like Lionel Messi, Sirin Labs, Eden Hazard and Sergio Aguero endorsing All Sports Chain. Some players have launched their own crypto-brands like Ronaldinho with Ronaldinho Soccer Coin and James Rodriguez and his JR10 token. In 2019, it will be worth watching how these partnerships start their activations; the Ronaldinho Soccer Coin will give fans access to so-called “digital” stadiums, real-world grounds with the technology to record and analyse player performance. According to WSC, Ronaldinho Digital Stadiums will be developed in 300 locations around the world, with construction plans already “confirmed” for over 10 locations.

So what can you do to keep up with the fast-paced change of the digital sports landscape? Give us a call, or drop us an email to find out more!

Data segmentation & planning – achieve your goals

Everyone is talking a good game about data. Single customer views, segmentation, ROI, buzzword after buzzword and it appears most rights holders and brands know what they want to achieve in this space. However the reality is that the majority are not really set-up to deliver their ambition. I’ve witnessed this time and time again, hearing very forward-thinking audience owners explaining what they are trying to achieve, and then continuing on to admit the struggles they have, or the reality simply not living up to their original ambition. If this story feels familiar, then don’t worry, you’re not alone.

I wanted to share some thoughts on how audience owners can choose a sensible route on the road to successful data strategies and segmented communications. I’ve broken this into five actions.

ONE – Be realistic with your internal capabilities & find efficient solutions.

We could all keep slicing and dicing our data into segments, by age, by gender, by interest, by motivation and so on. But the reality is that each organisation is going to end up with a communication and content plan that suddenly has significantly more stories, emails and posts to create, schedule and distribute; something that clearly requires resource to activate. Does your organisation have people sitting around twiddling their thumbs? I expect not.

The emergence of AI technologies is going to be central to this moving forward, but we will still need to create variations of each content piece. Firstly we need to be realistic with the number segments we create and secondly, look for more efficient means of communication and content creation. This is where short form communication such as mobile push notification is a really attractive route if your organisation or brand has a mobile app. Each identified segment can receive an individual push, with only 10-20 words needing to be written for each, to drive maximum click-through to your promotion/offer.

TWO – Create a commercial plan for your data.

Of course your plans are going to change over time as you begin to have new business goals, or want to / start to work with new partners or advertisers. However, if you can create a data strategy, with a strong base of what you’re trying to achieve, you will be able to ensure your data architecture and tracking is set-up to collect the most commercially useful data. So put simply know what you are collecting, not collecting, and why!

THREE – Understand the channels through which you plan to communicate.

Yes, I’m going to mention GDPR (sorry), but we need to make sure when we are collecting data that we are able to use this data in all the ways in which we want to. It’s time to get the crystal ball out with this one.

FOUR – Don’t segment for segmentation sake.

You need to understand which segments are actually going to drive a different (and useful) response for you and your partners. This is where you might want to bow to the data and research experts, perhaps working with a third party agency to support your data intelligence. Also, using digital/social marketing as a marketing research tool is great here. Running some low-cost digital adverts to different audience sets, and testing against different messaging and images, is a quickfire way to see how different segments respond to your messaging, and whether it’s worth segmenting in this way moving forward.

FIVE – Make sure you have the right information.

Too many audience owners simply don’t have enough depth of data about their customers/fans to truly make a difference through segmentation. Understanding transactional and demographic information is useful. However, understanding what interests, motivates and engages your audience base starts to make things really interesting. Your segmentation will start to make more sense and deliver results.

 

At InCrowd we have expertise in all of the above. What I find most exciting is where we can help our clients with the fifth action and their key audience – their fans. InCrowd create audience engagement tools, primarily through mobile applications and digital integrations. These help sports organisations and brands gather data about each individual fan. Then, we can support them in developing a strategy to commercialise this data in a way that requires a pretty light amount of resource.

If you’re keen to find out more, visit www.incrowdsports.com
or contact us now – enquiries@incrowdsports.com

eSports – are you ready for a new era in sports advertising?

It is no secret that the world of eSports is growing rapidly year on year, with bigger tournaments and larger prize-pools attracting a worldwide audience of gaming enthusiasts. The International, arguably one of the largest eSports events on the calendar, has seen unprecedented, consistent growth since its inception 2011 with a prize pool of over $24.75 million at the 2017 tournament, a majority of which is funded directly by players of the game. Often selling out traditional sports stadiums with audiences of 50,000+ combined with online viewership soaring above 60 million (in the case of the League of Legends World Championship 2017), eSports are increasingly giving traditional sports a run for their money.

It’s time to accept eSports is mainstream

With greater presence and an ever-increasing audience comes a tangible opportunity for sponsors to engage with fans. In March 2018 it was announced that Snickers would be the official sponsor for Season 5 of Rocket League RLCS (2018), joining the likes of Old Spice, Mobil1 and StateFarm who are also holding sponsorship positions. This takes an interesting side-step from other tournaments which are typically sponsored by gaming hardware (and related) brands such as PlayStation and G FUEL in the case of Call of Duty World League Championship 2017, and Alienware, Dell and HyperX in the CS:GO ELEAGUE Major in the same year.

Where exceptions do exist, it has previously been the more prominent title sponsorship positions that have been taken by brands which appeal specifically to a gaming audience. It is clear that as the term “eSports” becomes more mainstream, so too do the brands sponsoring it; and since virtual sports have evolved so rapidly over the last few years, it seems the lines between the two camps are becoming increasingly blurred.

The RLCS along with many other eSports tournaments is streamed to fans via the world’s most well known dedicated live-stream gaming platform, Twitch. Now owned by Amazon, the service saw 43.6% of live streaming traffic in the US in 2014. However, when it comes to advertising, the key difference between traditional sports and eSports is the way in which sponsors are using the platform to better engage their audience.

“Spamming” is no longer a bad word

Snickers sponsorship of RLCS is a great example of a brand recognising the need to interact differently with their audience, given the new challenges which eSports pose to advertisers. Everyone is familiar with this confectionary giant; yet it is clear that the marketing team behind the nutty snack went out of their way to appeal to a cohort who are not used to (or keen on) long drawn out, high-budget, advert breaks. The centrepiece of their RLCS campaign is an amusing 30 second video punctually shown after each game finishes, featuring a news anchor blindly following autocue prompts from an operator who has fallen asleep on his keyboard due to being “sleepy” – Snickers being the obvious cure to this predicament!

While the anchor and weather presenter are stuck mumbling “AAAAAAAAAA”, the viewer is left to question what would cause the presenters to babble such drivel. A very simple premise with a straightforward punchline.

 

The beauty in this campaign, however, is not the use of an amusing video on its own – Snickers have realised the value in the in-stream chat utilised by viewers who have signed in through Twitch.

Seemingly one doubtless, timeless fact concerning gamers when presented with a chatroom is that they will inevitably spam it – the act of repeatedly posting the same word or phrase over and over again. “AAAAAAAAAA” is a very easy phrase to type, and even easier to copy/paste. Viewers of the Snickers advert during the 2018 RLCS stream were unable to contain themselves when Snickers handed them the opportunity to spam this brand message for the full 30 second duration and beyond.

In a previous InCrowd article, Seb Lear wrote about the importance of “talk value” in a recent Bud Light commercial. This is a perfect example of what I would like to coin; “spam value”! Gaming fanatics relish the chance to be part of the mischief of spamming and in doing so, reinforce the message and draw attention to the ad for all viewers.

Granted, the Snickers ad is not exclusive to RLCS streams, but the marketing team behind this have demonstrated appreciation for the worth of achieving “talk value” in the stream by introducing the Snickers branded “AA” emoji (see below). Relevant and on-point, when appearing inline this emoji stands out from the rest of the chat, unashamedly drowning out all other messages to give itself prominence.

in-stream Twitch chat

Sign up incentives and in-game branding go hand-in-hand

Participation requires that viewers sign in with their Twitch account, but anyone is free to view the stream without doing so; so what if they haven’t signed in? Rocket League are a step ahead – anybody watching the stream through a connected Twitch account is rewarded at random with in-game items unique to Season 5 of RLCS. Once RLCS is over, the items can no longer be obtained, making them rare and collectible. This keeps the fans watching and interacting, and once logged in, there’s no reason not to participate. Rocket League has traditionally taken full advantage of distributing branded in-game cosmetic items since it was released, with notable partnerships from; DC (comics), Nvidia, Rick and Morty, and WWE.

RLCS Fan Rewards promo (2018) – Credit: rocketleague.com

Be aware that our attention span is minimal

As a viewer, it is clear how impactful the Snickers campaign has been in this RLCS series. This may in part be down to the fact that the core viewer demographic is currently considerably more defined than that of traditional TV-based sporting championships. With the average eSports viewer being male between the ages of 18-24 (across Europe in 2016), the majority of the viewership is no longer used to being bombarded with 5 minute commercial breaks which interrupt content. This audience wants something quick, to the point and engaging.

This case study indicates a swing away from ‘lazy’ traditional advertising towards a new era where engagement is key – a move which we are seeing in other sports too. The success of this is clearly demonstrated in the viewer responses in which Snickers is met with a barrage of ‘spamming’ on a level which surpasses that of a game winning goal being scored. The value of a single, appropriately targeted ad, is of considerably higher value than many which are not.

eSports are no longer playing catch up

In many ways, eSports are becoming increasingly similar to mainstream traditional sports. Starting from humble beginnings as one-off LAN events and slowly building towards specialized global tournaments, eSports are now seeing booming revenue and increased following, with one estimate suggesting that by 2020, collective eSports viewership will exceed that of baseball in the US. eSports has provided a platform for change and diversification from mainstream counterparts – targeting a new type of audience with innovative use of technologies. The necessity to target viewers in more meaningful, platform specific ways has enabled eSports to offer a more compelling fan experience.

Fan-centric experience has always been the natural direction for eSports in particular given that their developers lean towards this mindset in their day-to-day working. Compared to traditional sports, eSports have been offering predictors, rewards and stats trackers since their inception, and it is good to see how eSports are also beginning to forge their own path in regard to sponsor interaction.

I am in no doubt that new exciting ways to captivate fan interest will continue to be refined into the future as the success of moments like these are realised.

I leave you with a selection of top plays in the RLCS EU promotion tournament:

The roar of the crowd – a powerful fan engagement tool

When we look back at great moments in sporting history, the majority of what we read and hear of those moments is about the team or the individual athlete. However we rarely hear about what that moment meant to the crowd of fans. People don’t talk about the atmosphere in which that moment was created.

The most renowned sport stadiums are those that have an unrivalled atmosphere, where the athletes truly feel the fans’ support. But when recording great sporting moments its rarely part of the conversation. There’s a disconnect in the history books.

Ronaldo’s bicycle kick has gone down as one of football’s ‘greatest sporting moments’; not only did the Real Madrid fans go crazy but the Juventus fans also congratulated Ronaldo and made noise for that moment of utter greatness. Goosebump inducing fan scenes at Juventus Stadium, created by the fans themselves. Let’s think back to some other great moments, like David Beckham’s free kick against Greece to secure a World Cup place.

Johnny Wilkinson’s drop goal for world cup glory. Andy Murray’s first Wimbledon title.

Anthony Joshua’s knockout to become World Heavy Weight Champion. The 2016 Chicago Cubs with their first World Series win since 1908.

These moments are down in the history books. One variable that never changes, no matter the venue or the sport, is the atmosphere present and the ear-splitting roar of fans celebrating. Fans that are engaged, immersed and fully present in that moment.

Atmosphere makes an event, there’s no doubt about it. I’m sure we’ve all been to a sporting event where great things have happened, but we don’t remember them because the atmosphere and event itself were lifeless. In such circumstances, we disengage with our surroundings. We watch the game and we go home.

Creating a great atmosphere incites positive changes in fan behaviour, and InCrowd have the tools to help you create the ultimate “in the moment” atmosphere for your fans. Not just for the big, nail biting events, but at every game.

We can supply any stadium with a decibel meter, installed and displayed in the stadium. These meters record and time stamp dB readings so that they can be matched with moments within the game. What if your greatest moments were documented in sporting history as not only a display of epic skill and talent but with a legitimately measured roar of the crowd to back that up? The fans would be excited to be a part of that history. To be remembered alongside their sporting heroes.

“I was there. I was in that crowd!”

Find out more about the InCrowd decibel meter and the range of fan engagement and sponsorship activation tools offered by InCrowd.

Email enquiries@incrowdsports.com.

Here are the world record holders for fan noise.

Could your fans be the ones to break the record?!

 

More than a logo – why experiences are the new impressions

DILLY DILLY!

Yes, you’ve probably heard it everywhere. It has rapidly gained traction as a celebratory phrase worth yelling at almost any social event. From a Saturday afternoon in the pub to the Augusta National Golf Club where “Dilly Dilly” was banned from being shouted by golf fans at the Masters this month.

AB InBev’s recent Bud Light campaign has echoes of their famous Budweiser “Whassup” campaign from 1999, which achieved ‘‘talk value’’ – the elusive quality that converts advertising campaigns and phrases into cultural touchstones. Just like the “Whassup” campaign, “Dilly Dilly” launched during TV spots in the USA around the NFL, building towards the brands 2018 Super Bowl slot.

By January 2018 Dilly Dilly was being mentioned 175,000 times a month on social media. The term alone searched over 300,000 times on average per month.

So, what does Dilly Dilly mean?

“It doesn’t mean anything…and that’s the beauty of it” confessed Miguel Patricio, AB InBev’s CMO. “I think we all need our moments of nonsense and fun, and in a way Dilly Dilly represents that”. Love it or hate it, in a world where billions of advertising spend is invested into sales focused SEO and programmatic campaigns, Dilly Dilly provides a refreshing example of a campaign focused on being fun and improving consumer experiences with the brand.

For those Masters fans who were banned from shouting Dilly Dilly, Bud Light distributed Dilly Dilly caps at the event. They announced on social media that “if thou cannot say Dilly Dilly, thou can still wear Dilly Dilly!”.

Fan Experiences - Dilly Dilly

Experiences is a key aspect of AB InBev’s brand communications. This is no more apparent than in how they are approaching their new and existing sponsorship agreements. A recent article in Forbes, which caused a stir on LinkedIn, outlined how AB InBev were launching a new incentive-based sponsorship model. True, on field incentive-based sponsorship models are certainly nothing new. But what stood out was how off field incentives, such as a new rights holder digital platform that engages fans or increases awareness, might spur larger pay outs.

So why is this?

Ricardo Marques, VP of Budweiser explained that “it’s no longer about the signage or the size of a logo in the stadium anymore. It’s about what people talk about and the experience they take away and talk about later”. Whether at the stadium, at the pub or at home alcohol brands have the perfect opportunity to provide a passionate sports fan a great experience that, at a relatively low customer acquisition cost, has the potential to capture incremental retail sales from engaged fans.

Within the alcohol sponsorship sector, technology is the key driver to improving fan experiences and ensuring vital brand affinity. Budweiser used ‘Touchdown Glasses’ to bring the NFL stadium experience to all fans, whilst XXXX Gold launched their tech enabled Goldie caps during last winters Ashes series. Both these cases highlight that enhancing fan experiences and driving engagement is far more important than logo badging.

 

And technology is the key.

Fan Experiences - XXXX Goldie Caps with iBeacons

Find out more about how InCrowd works with alcohol brands and rightsholders to improve fan experiences through technology. Please email enquiries@incrowdsports.com or head to www.incrowdsports.com

Dilly Dilly!

 

Rugby League – A Sport Like No Other.

In my 10 years working in the sports industry I have been lucky enough to work on a variety of sports including football, motorsport, rugby union, tennis and cricket. One sport that had evaded me until last year was rugby league, a sport that I only had a passing knowledge of. Since June ’17 I have immersed myself in all things rugby league through InCrowd’s relationship with the Rugby Football League (RFL). I’ve attended the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup Final, Betfred Super League Grand Final, visited most of the grounds in the Super League and met some great people along the way.

To say this sport has been a breath of fresh air to me would be an understatement. Rugby League can boast an enviably diverse fan base, competitiveness & entertainment, passion & pride and down to earth, approachable players invested in growing their sport.

So what makes rugby league so special, and how are we working with the RFL to engage their already voracious and loyal fans? Let me tell you about my most recent experiences with the sport….

Membership

I project managed InCrowd’s development of the RFL’s free membership platform and app, named Our League. The platform that encapsulates all things Rugby League, launched on the 16th October 2017. Our League evolved quickly providing a second screen experience during the Rugby League World Cup 2017 with exclusive live streaming and behind the scenes footage. It also produced over 1,000 winners via the “predict & win” competition including tickets, signed shirts and a trip to Australia to watch the World Cup final between England and Australia.

Since then, the benefits have extended to loyalty schemes, ticket discounts, more exclusive content and a recently created a player dashboard for players to see their stats and compared themselves with others in their league. The successful predict and win competition has extended in to the Betfred Super League season with nearly 14,000 players to date, while Our League members have control of the Betfred Man of the Match vote as presented during live Sky Sports broadcasts. Development is also underway to extend the match centre to include community leagues and there is far more to come in the near future to engage all corners of the Rugby League audience.

Season Launch

In January this year, I was lucky enough to attend the RFL season launch. Our League, and its importance in growing the sport between now and the UK hosted 2021 Rugby League World Cup featured in Interim CEO Ralph Rimmer’s keynote speech. Super League representatives from all clubs were in attendance. Players and coaches from all clubs were in attendance including 2017 Man of Steel Luke Gale, England World Cup star Jermaine McGillvary and Harry Sunderland Trophy winning Danny McGuire. After photos and press interviews the players took part in sponsor led challenges whilst coaches were quizzed on their hopes and expectations for the coming season.

I got the chance to speak to some of the World Cup predictor winners; Rob, James  and Antony. They told me that they had played for fun and love of the game. They were extremely surprised to hear that their engagement in the predictor had culminated in such an amazing prize. That prize was 2 premium tickets to every major event this year including the England vs New Zealand series. The guys also recalled several pieces of content and polls that were published during the World Cup and spoke highly of the app’s user experience.

Antony said “my wife didn’t believe I had won and thought it was a scam. It’s a good job I didn’t win trip to Brisbane. I’d have had to choose between my wife and son!”

James took to Twitter to post the following:

 The Future of Rugby League

I feel that one of the biggest challenges facing rugby league in the UK is the lack of awareness and engagement in the south. Rugby union dominates there and the annual Challenge Cup Final provides only a glimpse of what this sport has to offer. I took my 10-year-old nephew to the Challenge Cup Final, teaching him the rules on the journey and he thoroughly enjoyed the whole occasion. However, without my involvement he would not have known that this event, or maybe even the sport even existed.

The road ahead is challenging but I think that rugby league is on the cusp of grabbing more attention from media and commercial partners. This will be rewarding to see for the players and fans of this entertaining and inclusive sport and I am excited to join the RFL on this journey. 2018 is already shaping up to be an incredible season with entertaining matches and some unexpected results already. I’m very much looking forward to the remainder of the season complete with drama, passion and an ever growing audience.

To get involved in the action, you can download the Our League app now:

Google Play:  https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.incrowdsports.rugby.rfl

App Store: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/ourleague/id1292250629?ls=1&mt=8

OurLeague Website: https://membership.rugby-league.com

Fan Behaviour Trends

Fan Behaviour – what we can learn from Google Search and Daily Active User trends

At InCrowd, we constantly look into how we can best utilise our data and visible trends to understand fan behaviour; this analysis is beneficial to both us and the rights holders we work with. Most recently, we looked into what we can learn about our fans from Google Search and Daily Active User(DAU) trends.

We did the necessary research to produce viable and informed answers using three of our main clients – Lets call them Club A, Club B and Club C. For each club we compared the DAUs and the number of Indexed Google searches on all days in the season so far, and in doing so, noticed that the standard (and expected) trend was that Google searches spiked on match days as did the DAUs – no surprise there.

However, two things stood out to us:

One
On match days, the magnitude of the Google Search spike was much greater than the DAU spike.

Two
On the days where there was a decrease in users for both platforms, the dips for Google search queries were far more pronounced than the DAUs on the app; we actually noticed that apps maintained a decent number of DAUs on a daily basis, even on non-match days.

 

These observations suggest that the Google platform is a choice source of information on match days. However, Google users could be classed as non-reciprocal, one-off connections that are likely to disengage. Perhaps an away team fan or casual supporter looking for facilities info like travel and parking etc. App usage is clearly fan driven. These fans have an invested and consistent relationship with the app as their lead source of club content, on any day of the year and at any time.

We also asked ourselves what else could affect Google search and DAUs trends:


How about “Big Name” opposition?

Would playing a league leader, or a club from a higher league, have an effect on activity?
For Club A, the largest spikes were for matches against the biggest clubs in the country and those spikes came from Google. DAU numbers did not spike significantly higher than they would have for matches against smaller clubs. We can also speculate that a decent percentage of the Google queries will be coming from the big club supporters.

How about club rivalries?

Would a match against another local club, with storied rivalry, have an effect on usage?
For Club B there were some pronounced Google Search spikes, the largest of which occurred on the days that came up against their biggest rivals. However, once again, DAUs fluctuated only a little. This lends weight to the theory that Google Search numbers were again affected by outside sources. Oppositions fans, media picking up on the storied rivalry for their articles and other interested parties from outside either club.

Both of these mini case studies suggest the same thing – big club opposition and rivalries have little impact on DAUs.

Your fans care about the club, the team and the game, no matter who they are coming against.

What does all this mean?

Simple really. Clubs shouldn’t just rely on the internet and their website to give their fans what they need. Don’t make them search for it. Give fans a direct 24/7 portal to the club and you will see fan engagement and club advocacy improve significantly. To find out how we can help you and your club, contact us now via enquiries@incrowdsports.com or head to www.incrowdsports.com