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New England Patriots scores mobile touchdown with branded emojis

The New England Patriots is the latest sports team leveraging emojis to boost fan engagement by using an SDK that enables application users to interact with the social stickers without having to download a separate platform.

The team is leveraging Bare Tree Media?s emojiTap platform to integrate branded emojis into its existing mobile app, thereby allowing fans to access the stickers within a destination they already visit for their news and sports merchandise. Emojis have been a widely tapped marketing strategy by a slew of sports teams and major brands, suggesting that visual content can sometimes be more influential than its written counterpart.

?When it comes to loyalty and engagement, there is no disputing sports fans win hands down,? said Robert Ferrari, CEO of Bare Tree Media. ?They love their team through the ups and downs of the season, and are eager to show support behind their favorite team and respective players.

?Teams providing emojis enables fans to expand their support in the form of inserting emojis into mobile conversations and statements while viewing games or following team news,? he said. ?Teams benefit because they have a new and engaging tool to offer fans that is a natural extension to fans active within a team's mobile app.

?Our platform includes a real-time content delivery platform which allows for new emojis to be offered at any time. We can introduce a new emoji to a fan during our after a game, which teams love. Our emoji analytics also inform the team which emojis are the most popular.?

Hiking up fan engagement
Bare Tree Media has now made its emojiTap platform into an integrated solution that can be used by sports teams wanting to provide branded emojis to their supporters. Once the solution has been implemented into a team?s app, the platform?s SDK enables fans to send the social stickers to friends from within the app.

This means that consumers will not be forced to download a separate emoji keyboard onto their smartphones. EmojiTap?s SDK was designed to offer a single destination in which fans can receive access to the latest news, team memorabilia and shareable mobile content.

The New England Patriots football team was the first to integrate the emojiTap SDK into its existing app. Patriots supporters can now interact with emojis based on their favorite players, phrases and coaches.

Teams can implement their own creative content into the SDK, or opt to leverage content made by a third party. The emojis can also be continually refreshed to ensure that in-app engagement remains high.

Additionally, if teams want to track analytics pertaining to emoji usage, they may be able to glean valuable data regarding consumers? mobile habits, information that could inform future marketing initiatives.

Emoji takeovers
The New England Patriots team?s emoji integration arrives on the heels of a handful of other sports teams? and brands? efforts to permeate the mobile messaging space with interactive stickers.

Recognizing that emojis can be a fun way for mobile-savvy sports enthusiasts to express team spirit, the Baltimore Ravens launched a customized, team-branded keyboard last summer, complete with a Ravens helmet and Ray Lewis? jersey, that was quickly embraced by fans (see story).

Meanwhile, last fall, Toyota sponsored an emoji keyboard for football fans to share with friends on messaging and social media apps, bringing a sports angle to marketers' growing efforts to leverage an icon-based shorthand for engaging mobile users (see story).

?Emojis are a hot category for marketing, and we are very fortunate to have been the first company to drive branded emojis as a service and a platform,? Mr. Ferrari said. ?Consider how much time mobile users spend on their mobile devices and how messaging has taken over as the number-one form of communicating through our phones.

?Users love sending branded emojis because they are in control, deciding which emojis they want to send and in what situation,? he said. ?It?s brand engagement in a voluntary, simple, non-intrusive and non-disruptive manner.?