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Facebook Venue

Is Facebook Venue an opportunity or a threat for sports Rights Holders?

Over the weekend, Facebook announced that its new product experimental team is launching Venue, an app for engaging fans around live events. With Venue, the company aims to offer a digital companion for live events, starting with this Sunday’s NASCAR race.

This is not the first time that Facebook has launched a broadside at its rival Twitter, which is still the primary platform for second-screen social commentary. However, this new product has some key differences. Whereas Twitter gives all commentators or fans an equal share of voice (although curated), Venue will only include well-known personalities or influencers whose opinions are deemed to carry more weight. These commentators will provide their own takes on the event and pose interactive questions and polls for those watching. Therefore on the face of it, this is more of a linear proposition where experts tell the story and the fans participate by offering their views rather than setting the agenda themselves.

This is surely a great opportunity for sports. With over 2.6 billion monthly active users in Q1 of 2020, Facebook is the biggest social network worldwide. Of these, 1.73 billion people on average logged in daily in March 2020 compared to 1.66 billion in December 2019 demonstrating both scale and growth. The Facebook network is where a massive amount of the social universe resides, let alone the sports fan subset of that universe, so this is where sports event and venue owners, as well as players and teams, should be focusing their efforts on reaching their potential global following. Right? Yes and no.

The issue with Facebook extending its social reach into our sports fandoms like this is that it further extends the existential crisis for the organisations that create, own and control the content.

First of all, unlike Twitter, this product is a direct challenge to the linear broadcast propositions that pay sports organisations huge amounts of money for the privilege and provide between 30% and 50% of the total funding. They are therefore very, very important. Facebook’s advantage is that, instead of using content they have acquired to reach ageing audiences via traditional platforms, they already have the audience that everybody is trying to reach without needing to make the investment, which potentially undermines the very existence of the sports in their current form.

Secondly, if you think about it, being a fan is about being passionate and sharing collectivised feelings and memories amongst your friends, groups of fans and communities. When you like, share or comment on a social network, that network is actually capturing your essence as a fan and that is far more valuable to a brand in terms of engagement than linear content channels.

Therefore, Facebook has the best of both worlds; a proposition to challenge linear broadcasters and the captured digital emotion of the fanbase that is so valuable to brands. Ouch. 

We talk about sports rights holders needing to win their fair share of their fanbases attention, given it is their investment that is generating the content that underpins the second screen proposition as a whole. If rights holders like Nascar use Facebook as a platform to reach its valuable audience then they have to be careful not to undermine their core. Facebook doesn’t share its data, even on your own channels, meaning you still have to buy the audience you have co-invested in creating. Here’s an example of an excellent compromise in this siutation. The content team at UEFA, working with TEAM Marketing, have evolved their approach to use social platforms as marketing channels with a priority on engagement. This drives value for its owned and operated channels and its sponsors. 

So what single piece of advice do I offer here? Of course, you need to do everything you can to stay relevant on social media, but you must ensure that this effort pays dividends to you and does not undermine your core business.

 

InCrowd Recommends – The Round-Up

We’ve kicked off InCrowd Recommends, a series of tweets landing on Tuesday, Wednesdays and Fridays offering recommendations from our team of sports nuts on Podcasts, TV series & documentaries and films that you should be listening to and watching. Every week, we’ll be adding to this round-up list so you can keep a checklist – ENJOY!

Podcasts

  • Quickly Kevin Will He Score? (FOOTBALL) – A series in which 90’s football aficionado Josh Widdicombe is joined by friends, and fellow 90s experts, co-host Chris Scull and ‘Director of Podcast’ Michael Marden, as the trio embark on a tour of niche football topics of the period 1st January 1990 to 31st December 1999. Worth looking back in the archives for classic episodes with the likes of Le Tissier, Lawrenson, Neville, Pearce and Frank Skinner.
  • Tailenders (CRICKET) – Radio 1 DJ Greg James, cricket legend Jimmy Anderson and The Maccabees guitarist Felix White deliver an alternative (and musical) look at cricket as well as often going a bit off-topic. Regularly funny & always interesting there are loads of episodes & live specials to catch up on. 
  • Undr the Cosh (FOOTBALL) is a podcast with Ex and current footballers presented by Jon ‘the Beast’ Parkin, Chris ‘ Browny’ Brown and award-winning writer Chris Brown. This is a very light-hearted series with ex-professional footballers who have very funny and interesting tales to tell.

TV Series & Documentaries

  • The Last Dance (BASKETBALL) – This highly anticipated series gives a definitive account of Michael Jordan’s career & the 90s Chicago Bulls, with unaired footage of the Chicago Bulls’ dramatic 97-98 NBA season. Jordan anchors the series, while star teammates Scottie Pippen and Rodman are among a host of NBA legends to speak alongside, journalists, childhood and college friends and Barack Obama.
  • Sunderland Till I Die (FOOTBALL) – This docuseries follows English soccer club Sunderland through the 2017-18 season as they try to bounce back after relegation from the Premier League. Season 2 follows the team under new ownership, as they start on their quest to climb out of the third division and bring pride and hope back to the club’s passionate fans.

  Films

  • Draft Day (NFL) – find it on Amazon Prime. An outstanding look at just what goes on behind the scenes of the NFL draft (note, if this is accurate, it is just crazy), this movie revolves around Sonny Weaver Jnr (Kevin Costner), the fictional general manager of the Cleveland Browns who is presented with the opportunity to rebuild his team when he trades for the number one pick. He must decide what he’s willing to sacrifice on a life-changing day for a few hundred young men dreams of playing in the NFL.
  • Coach Carter (BASKETBALL) –A 2005 American biographical teen sports drama film starring Samuel L. Jackson and directed by Thomas Carter. The film is based on the true story of Richmond High School basketball coach Ken Carter, who made headlines in 1999 for suspending his undefeated high school basketball team due to poor academic results.

 

A World Without Sport – Part 1

It’s incredible to think that it was only two and a half weeks ago that 86,000 fans were packed inside the MCG watching the Australian Women’s Cricket team celebrate their ICC T20 World Cup title on stage with Katy Perry.

It was a seismic moment in women’s sport. Not only did the Aussie team capture the imagination of a generation of young girls with a sublime performance on International Women’s Day, but it was also the highest crowd figure ever for a women’s cricket match globally. As the sun set at the MCG, COVID-19 was simply something on the horizon. Of course, it looked terrible on the news in China and Italy, but still remained very much on the horizon…

 

 

Today, COVID-19 is the reality for every sports organisation around the world. Not even the most cautious sports executive would have forecast such a crisis. As Murray Barnett described on a recent Unofficial Partner Podcast, the sports industry is currently “punch drunk”. A situation in which no sport would be played around the world, and major competitions Euro 2020 and The Olympics would be postponed, is simply unthinkable.

Whilst there are bigger concerns for the world to deal with than the lack of sport, the COVID-19 crisis is of course unique. In other periods of crisis, from recessions to terrorism, sport has often provided comfort for people and generated positivity from the dire reality, and here we are without our usual go-to pick me up in this time of crisis.

So what do we do now?

For those currently at home (which should be everyone, #StayAtHome), the recent Netflix series “The English Game” is a great watch and a fabulous example of the power of sport as an important connective tissue to bind people together, both across and within societies. Without giving any spoilers away, the series dives back to the 1880’s and tells a story of two footballers on opposite sides of the class divide, who forge a bond to help bring the upper-class sport and its joy to the masses, in particular the mill workers of Northern England. It was the birth of modern football and professionalism as we know it, but the series at its core shows the power that sport has, even back in the 1880’s, to distract humans from life’s troubles.

 

Looking to the future

So as we navigate our way through this increasingly anxious and unknown period, the lack of sport only exacerbates this feeling. For the sports industry, the commercial consequences of media rights, sponsorship, ticketing and hospitality revenues suddenly drying up has sent shivers throughout the entire ecosystem, and will no doubt change the industry and its operating model forever. However, just as COVID-19 was on the horizon at MCG a few weeks ago, so too are the myriad of sports events that are to eventually come.

For any sports fan, the prospect of the European Championships, Olympics, Lions Tour, Ryder Cup, ICC Men’s T20 World Cup and many other events sitting ready to reignite once the virus has passed is beyond exciting. As Southampton CEO Martin Semmens explained, that once it is safe to do so, the return of sport will be a crucial sign that life is ‘returning to normal’.

But for now, as fans rightly stay at home the sports series, archive footage and rightsholder digital platforms become more important than ever in keeping the sports audiences engaged (and sane!) whilst also keeping the commercial ecosystem alive. And when the sun rises, there is no doubt that sport will be welcomed back by the world with open arms, returning bigger and better than ever…

Keep an eye out…..

We’ll be keeping in touch and keeping you up-to-date with our “A World Without Sport” blog series. We’ll share as far and wide as we can when new posts go up but keep an eye on our social media channels and our website!

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InCrowd and the RFL take fan engagement to the next level with interactive video polls

InCrowd’s introduction of video polls, powered by FanScore, has driven engagement levels up for the Rugby Football League’s successful membership platform, OurLeague, enabling the RFL to further develop direct relationships and continue to create unique experiences, for every fan.

Polls have been a popular part of the OurLeague platform since March 2018, with the effective and widely participated Man Of The Match vote now broadcast, updated and announced live for various fixtures throughout the season. This new introduction of video polls takes the fan experience to the next level, giving fans the power to make personal choices based on real life game situations and referee decisions. A strategic system of app notifications, social updates and email communications ensure no fan misses the opportunity to cast their vote and have their say.

Perhaps most importantly, fans participating in the video polls are encouraged to do so behind an official FanScoreID from InCrowd, as opposed to a social login to verify and log their selections. Social may drive higher numbers but these are all anonymous to the rights holder. With this FanScore authentication, the RFL are able to learn more about their fans and can therefore serve them with relevant, personal content and activations based on past engagements.

“The live Man of The Match poll has generated incredible engagement numbers and we’re really pleased to be able to add yet another dimension to the fan experience for OurLeague members, whilst continuing to learn more about rugby league fans. The development of the video polls is an exciting prospect for us; we’re looking forward to working on new ideas with the InCrowd team.” – Nichola Spencer, Membership Manager, Rugby Football League.

The Try or No Try video poll went live in August, with Lewis Tierney’s 2016 try against Warrington during the Super 8s as the first video poll to take place. The poll received 1,438 votes over six days with a split decision of 51% Try to 49% No Try, giving a perfect edge-of-your-seat start to the video poll’s integration. The poll itself is a collaboration between the RFL and Patient Claim Line, who already sponsor the big screen video decisions in live Sky Sports games. The poll also ties in brilliantly with their tagline “know for sure” and their key message of “checking all the evidence before making a crucial decision”, making this video poll not only an exciting interactive feature for fans, but an effective and seamless activation for the RFL’s partner.

“The Try or No Try video poll is a perfect activation opportunity for us; the nature of the poll compliments our brand messaging and its really exciting to see such a close call on the first poll plus really encouraging participation numbers from the get-go.” – Alex Kenny, Marketing Director, Patient Claim Line

InCrowd are excited about the successful introduction and future of video polls as a key feature of the fan experience, for the RFL audience and across the sports industry.

Visit the Our League website here

Download the iOS app

Download the Android app

 

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!

 

InCrowd appoint Dan Lipman as Business Director of FanScore

Fan engagement specialists, InCrowd, have appointed fan marketing expert, Dan Lipman, as Business Director of FanScore. Dan is joining from leading mass participation event organisers, Human Race Ltd.

Dan joins InCrowd with over 10 years of fan marketing experience and having specialised in driving and monetising customer acquisition and engagement for major rights holders including British Athletics, the Lawn Tennis Association and Tough Mudder.

Most recently Dan has been Commercial Director of Human Race where he was responsible for managing the marketing, digital and sponsor activation teams, as well as strategically advising the development of a new market-leading ticketing and CRM platform for parent company and organisers of Le Tour de France, Amaury Sport Organisation.

Dan will head-up the FanScore business division, which uses technology and data solutions to help some of the world’s leading sports audience owners, to better know, understand and monetise their audiences.

FanScore sits at the intersection where Brands, Media and Rights Holders meet, creating digital fan engagement tools and platforms that harness the 360 degree spend and attention of the sports fan and provide ROI focused digital sponsorship solutions.

Aidan Cooney, InCrowd’s co-founder and CEO stated “InCrowd have built a fantastic and profitable fan marketing platform and with Dan now coming aboard, we are going to progress our development for our clients in order to produce the most rewarding fan experience no matter where they are.”

Dan Lipman stated “I’ve witnessed first-hand how digital and social media has influenced the way in which brands look to activate to sports audiences, and the subsequent challenges this has created for Rights Holders in their ambitions to commercialise their assets.

I believe with our FanScore proposition we provide a genuine solution that will transform the ability for our partners to compete in a modern digital world. InCrowd have an unrivalled proposition and team to lead the way in revolutionising this space and I am delighted to have come on board to build on the great success the team have already achieved.”

InCrowd work with some of the biggest names in the sports industry including Premiership Rugby, 16 individual clubs, Toyota, Rugby Football League, Heineken and the ICC. To find out more information on InCrowd, please visit their website www.incrowdsports.com or contact us now via enquiries@incrowdsports.com

About InCrowd:

InCrowd provide a fan engagement & sponsorship activation platform. Our understanding of the avid and emotional mindset of a fan is combined with in-depth data analysis and ground-breaking digital technology to offer rights holders and brands a unique opportunity to reach out to sports fans in the moments that really matter. Many of the world‘s top rights holders & brands use InCrowd’s fan marketing platform to collect more fan data, sell more tickets and increase sponsorship revenue. We also help sponsors connect with new customers and convert fan interaction into revenue & advocacy. Find out more – www.incrowdsports.com

Leeds United FC focus on fan engagement with their official app built by InCrowd

Leeds United FC are continuing their focus on fan engagement with the ongoing success of their official LUTV mobile app in partnership with InCrowd, available to download on the Apple Store and the Google Play Store.

LUFC fans have access to a new two-way channel between themselves and and the club. The Official LUTV mobile app enables fans to engage with a host of different features no matter where they are.

Fan features include:

  • Full LUTV including highlights, interviews, features and more. Subscriptions are available to be purchased here.
  • Once logged in, UK subscribers will be able to access live audio commentary, while international users can watch the full match.
  • All the latest news & breaking news supported by the InCrowd push notification system.
  • A full 2017/18 campaign fixtures & results list.
  • Live league tables.
  • Official player & club Twitter account feeds .
  • Integrates official club social media accounts.
  • Access to ticket purchasing and merchandise.

“From a media perspective, providing content to our fans was one of our biggest challenges. However, this has been a smooth process as a result of the perfect cooperation between Leeds United FC and InCrowd.” Emanuele Montoneri, Head of Media at Leeds United FC.

What does this mean for the club?

The LUTV app currently holds a 4.5/5 rating across both the Apple and Google Play app stores. Furthermore, the app has over 170 five-star reviews. From the point of view of the club, Leeds United will now be able to:

  • Segment, target and send personalised messages to their fans using the powerful InCrowd push notification system.
  • Collect, grow and utilise rich behavioural and location based fan data.
  • Market new sponsorship inventory to existing and future commercial partners.
  • Showcase official club content on a much improved digital platform to fans around the world.

“We are extremely proud to be in partnership with one of the most prestigious football clubs in the UK. This new venture with LUFC means InCrowd now work with over 20 rights holders across four sports.’ Aidan Cooney, CEO of InCrowd.

Please check InCrowd’s and Leeds United’s Twitter feeds twitter.com/InCrowd_Sports and twitter.com/lufc for news of further updates to the official Leeds United app or get in touch via Enquiries@incrowdsports.com

About InCrowd

InCrowd provide a fan engagement & sponsorship activation platform. Our understanding of the avid and emotional mindset of a fan is combined with in-depth data analysis and ground-breaking digital technology to offer rights holders and brands a unique opportunity to reach out to sports fans in the moments that really matter. Many of the world‘s top rights holders & brands use InCrowd’s fan marketing platform to collect more fan data, sell more tickets and increase sponsorship revenue. We also help sponsors connect with new customers and convert fan interaction into revenue & advocacy. Find out more – www.incrowdsports.com

 

InCrowd attending the Fanalyse European Summit

InCrowd are looking forward to attending this Thursday’s (17th November) Fanalyse European Summit at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff. 

We will be demonstrating our official apps and how they can offer rights holders new communication channels to fans and exciting sponsorship opportunities for rights holders. We will also be holding a prize draw throughout the day on our new mobile 3D game, Handoff Challenge, with the top scorer standing to win a prize for their efforts.

The Fanalyse Euro Summit is a perfect opportunity for sports and venue based professionals with key topics within fan engagement and fan experience at the forefront of discussions with speakers, panelists and delegates.  

If you would like to get in touch with us to find out more about this event then please email enquiries@incrowdsports.com.

Aidan Cooney to give panel discussion at the 2016 World Rugby Conference

Aidan Cooney, co-founder and CEO of InCrowd, will be taking part in a panel discussion at the 2016 World Rugby Conference in London on Tuesday 15th November.

Aidan will be speaking at the “Marketing the game – using insight to grow audiences and partnerships” session at 16:00 on the Conference Stage alongside Fiona Green, Chief Executive of Winners and Matt Rogan, Chairman of Two Circles.

The panel aim to address how national member unions and clubs can leverage audience data to identify which trends and what insights will increase fan-engagement and match attendance as well as establishing how can data trends and audience insights be used to attract and create more effective sponsorships, partnerships and improved commercial returns.

If you would like any more information on the World Rugby Conference and how to book your ticket, please click here.