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ESPN gets personal with sports fans via responsive Web site

ESPN?s re-launch of its Web site with responsive design to mark its 20th anniversary reflects the sports network?s embrace of a mobile-first approach that aims to deliver a consistent, personal experience for highly engaged fans.

Designed to adjust to the user?s device and platform based on feedback from sports fans, the new ESPN.com includes personalizing tools that give individual fans direct access to content that matters most to them alongside the main news section. The changes reflect how sports marketers are leveraging the dynamic nature of sports to deliver the content fans crave in the mobile moments that matter.

?ESPN is focused on creating a mobile first experience that is tailored to its readers,? said Tom Edwards, executive vice president of digital strategy and innovation with The Marketing Arm, Dallas. ?By creating a responsive experience that also incorporates highly relevant content they are focused on delivering a contextually relevant and consistent content experience regardless of the device type.?  

An ESPN representative could not be reached for comment.

Streamlining consumption
The key change in the site is its use of a responsive design. As the user scrolls or clicks his way through the site, content responds to the shape of the device.

Deepening coverage for highly engaged users.

The format is streamlined, with simple layouts and minimal headlines and type.

Stories are regularly updated. The Now feed contains an ongoing selection of graphics, original short-form content, SportsCenter videos and social content to deepen coverage of a story. On the smartphone, a navigation bar has buttons the user can push to look at results and news for favorite teams, general sports news or the Now feed. 

The revamped site also includes increased video with more content from ESPN?s networks and increased integration into all of its feeds.

ESPN?s product and technology teams built a global platform that allows content creators to program locally in any market and make the most of all the ways in which fans consume sports, John Kosner, executive vice president of ESPN Digital and Print Media, was quoted in a release. 

The new ESPN.com also aims to provide greater scope for mobile advertising flexibility and innovation. Marketers will be able to deploy new ad units and video placements on the site.

Chevrolet and Chick-fil-A are advertising sponsors for the launch of the United States site. ESPN is working with a range of other advertisers who will be unveiling new creative on the site in the coming days and weeks.

The site will feature a new Universal Advertising Package for each device, screen and orientation to let advertisers take advantage of the increased effectiveness of multiplatform campaigns compared to single-platform.

Only one advertiser will be featured on a page at a time ? meaning brands will no longer compete for attention against other advertisers. 

Advertising will also be integrated into the site to make them as viewable as possible, rather than sitting outside the navigation and editorial content.

With the growth of mobile, marketers have increasingly looked for the best methods to deliver the same content across multiple screens instead of having to build and maintain separate sites for desktop and mobile.

Fast delivery
Speedy delivery times are crucial on mobile phones for many Web sites because users are often on the go and looking to answer an immediate need.

Promotion highlights tablet format.

The redesign of ESPN.com reflects users? demand for making site navigation easier.

Advertising will also be integrated into the site to make it as viewable as possible, rather than sitting outside the navigation and editorial content.

?Initial signals of the ad offerings point to a more contextual ad experience that will be optimized based on the device type,? Mr. Edwards said. ?This means that ads will be more of an extension of the experience which coincides more with how consumers are already interacting with the content.? 

Final Take
Michael Barris is staff reporter on Mobile Marketer, New York