The role of digital in driving fan engagement

Paul Blake

24 May 2016

We need look no further than the concept of fan engagement for a snapshot of how changing times bring changing expectations.

Rewind 25 years or so and ‘fan engagement’ wasn’t even on the radar. If my team won, I avoided the rain and tucked into a gristle-free pie at half time I would go home happy.

Today’s fans are a savvier and more demanding bunch.

Paul Blake

Mark Craig of Cisco Systems’ Sports & Entertainment Group quotes research indicating 70 per cent of fans bring a mobile device to the stadium or arena and expect to use it during a game.

For this demographic draughty wi-fi free stadiums simply don’t stack up, particularly in comparison to the broadband-enabled home where multiple camera angles, food and drink deliveries and wagering are all available at the tap of a screen.

It’s clear that the appropriate use of technology is central to fan engagement strategy. The more enlightened organisations have realised the crucial role that it can play in underpinning a multi-channel experience.

Horse racing

Our client the Victoria Racing Club (VRC) is one such organisation. We’ve worked closely with the club on a native app which not only supports journey planning and on-course orientation but also augments the live experience.

Central to this augmentation is our integration with Cisco’s StadiumVision Mobile technology – the first by a Southern Hemisphere agency.

The VRC’s investment puts them firmly in the new breed of so-called ‘smart arenas’, the potential of which is illustrated by the NBA’s Sacramento Kings and their new stadium The Golden 1 Centre, dubbed a ‘21st Century Coliseum’.

Behind this somewhat lofty title the Kings have an enviable canvas upon which to not only enhance the fan experience but also to drive both direct revenue opportunities and data-driven decision making.

From a customer facing point of view a world of e-ticketing, cashless commerce, orientation to the shortest queues, seat upgrades and access to exclusive content becomes the baseline.

Elsewhere the potential, subject of course to customer opt-in, to use passive tracking to gather data and better understand customer behaviour – and crucially to both predict demand and personalise offers – is extremely exciting.

Additionally, from a marketing and sponsorship point of view, a suite of infrastructure and software of this type offers almost boundless opportunity for highly immersive sponsor activations.

Baseball stadium

However it’s not simply a case of ‘build it and they will come’. To get a maximum ROI on any infrastructure or feature set there needs to be a clear strategy.

Labelling this plan a ‘fan engagement strategy’ may be a relatively new thought but at its heart are the same fundamentals – the marriage of business requirement and customer need to drive a clearly articulated plan with clear outcomes.

And when robust strategy, great service design and appropriate technology come together the outcome can be truly exciting. I for one can’t wait to see where it leads.

next up An introduction to human-centred design

Paul Blake