Sports and mobile marketing: A no-brainer for content, interactive experiences
By Emily Mathis
April 21, 2014
MLB's AtBat app
Sports fans from Sochi to the Bronx are increasingly accessing their mobile devices to heighten their sporting event experience.
Throughout the game, fans are tuning in for real-time updates, social media, and commentary. This translates to real-world advantages for marketers and advertisers.
“Real-time information, that’s the sweet spot for mobile in sports. Whether you’re at the game or watching from home sports fandom is a social experience, and to be a part of the conversation you need both real time data about today’s game as well as in-depth information about teams and players,” says Joe Fullman, director of digital strategy at Arnold Worldwide, Boston.
“By putting information at our fingertips, mobile helps us become better fans,” he said. “Whether it’s settling an argument about stats in a sports bar, or updating your fantasy team on the fly. The opportunity for brands is to become a part of the flow of information and the experience of the event.”
Arnold Worldwide found that, at the Sochi Winter Olympics, more than half of American fans followed the games on their mobile devices.
Results from Arnold Worldwide's Sochi Winter Olympic games study
Already, agencies are reaping the benefits of increased mobile attention to sports fans. Hyaat Chaudhary, CEO of Outdoor Hub with Carbon Media Group, Birmingham, MI, has focused recent advertising initiatives on mobile users.
“Carbon Media Group exclusively focuses on sports and the outdoors, so we have the luxury of contextually targeting every campaign that we launch for a particular activity. Some campaigns run across all action sports, while others may be just focused on hiking or snowboarding,” Mr. Chaudhary said.
“Our niche allows us to do some very specific targeting by sport,” he said. “To meet the growing demand for content accessible and optimized for mobile viewing, we created CarbonTV, our new digital video platform with content geared toward outdoors sports fans. With episodes only eight to ten minutes long, they are perfect for mobile viewing.”
Mobile users can tune into games directly through apps such as Sky Sports
Mr. Chaudhary’s clever appeals to sports fans are paying off. Carbon Media Group is drawing in more than 20 million users every month using advanced technology, including geo and weather targeting, to make sporting events more convenient and pleasant.
At the same time, professional sports leagues are building out their own mobile platforms to capitalize on the growing amount of time spent with smartphones and tablets.
For example, the National Football League debuted a tiered digital video streaming product earlier this year with Gillette, Microsoft and Yahoo as launch sponsors (see story).
Modifying individual strategies
Marketing executives agree that mobile marketing to sports fans is essential in any advertising campaign. But some experts debate how to modify mobile strategies to the specific sports audience.
Mr. Chaudhary said that targeting specific tech-savvy groups allows them to share information with like-minded individuals. “We've seen success with consumer-facing campaigns such as Pure Michigan, as well as targeted outdoor industry companies such as Keen.”
“Utilizing mobile elements in our campaigns has helped us better engage active sports audiences: We already know this group is always on the go,” he said.
“These holistic efforts consistently drive more traffic and result in more time spent on our clients' Web sites.”
Take Dunkin’ Donuts, for example.
The coffee giant has sponsored the Major League Baseball’s Beat the Streak application for several years to hone in on baseball fans.
Arnold Worldwide’s Mr. Fullman concurs that aiming efforts at a specific audience is vital to campaign success. “The bigger question is whether a regional or national platform of sports marketing makes sense for your brand,” he says. “That’s obviously pretty dependent on your budget and priorities.”
But as a general rule, it seems that any advantages from using mobile to access sport audiences typical outweigh the problems. “If you’re trying to get the most out of big ticket sponsorships, mobile is a flexible, scalable no-brainer of an add on,” Mr. Fullman said.
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