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Due to Covid-19, it is now projected that sports sponsorship revenue will fall to $28.9bn by year-end, a 37.3% decrease on 2019 and $19.5bn short of the pre-COVID-19 projection of $48.4bn. Leading to clubs questioning how they can they fulfil commercial obligations, given the abrupt and sustained shutdown of sport. How they can engage with their fans and what does the fan experience look like? The answer so far has been Digital. It has led to clubs looking to utilise more digital assets, so their sponsors and partners can still generate a return and fans can engage with their team.

As sports executives look to build new direct-to-consumer channels, we find that age is an ineffective way to segment and target digital sports fans. Older generations (Gen Xers in particular) are adopting digital technology almost as fast as millennials, and fans’ online behaviours are far better signals of purchase intent. With so many sports options across so many screens, fans of all ages are spoilt for choice, so directing and engaging their attention with your content is the priority. Short attention spans are forcing us to find more short form content to engage with. You could create an amazing campaign that people enjoy, but if they’re not engaging with content or associating it with your brand then where is your return?

North American Sports teams are leading the way by using their apps to engage fans. This isn’t the only use for these apps… Brands are investing in advertising opportunities within them, reaching the consumer direct to pocket. This allows brands to both affiliate themselves with the sports team and reach a targeted and engaged audience without the sponsorship pricing.

As apps collect data on an opt-in basis, it allows advertisers to be smart with their messaging, targeting it to their specific audience to achieve the desired marketing outcome. An always on 24/7 media asset, apps allow advertisers to deliver the right messaging, at the right time, to the right person.

There are infinite ways that brands can utilise Sports Club apps for their marketing campaigns. We break these down into four categories of desired marketing outcomes. Firstly, brand awareness, an inventory primarily focused on display of the brand logo. For example, A Quiz that is ‘supported by’ a brand, with the logo present on screen through-out. Next comes consideration – the ability to deliver the brand proposition and increase the likelihood of a future purchase. For example, a competition sponsored by a brand that allows you to win their product/service as a prize. Thirdly, and possibly providing the easiest way to see a return on investment is conversion. This drives the consumer to act by purchasing, signing up or clicking onto the brands webpage. Finally, Loyalty – driving the consumer into becoming a repeat / loyal customer.

Within-App campaigns come thousands of tried and tested templates. App experiences outperform traditional landing pages, increasing the time spent in-app by 21% and gaining 4X more clicks. These are not just your traditional ads; they are mobile rich campaigns that engage the user. Sponsored offers, gameday previews, special event guides, trivia and more. There is no limit to the types of fan engagement you can create. And with no requirement for apps to be updated in the app store for the campaigns to be integrated, you can turn the campaigns on and off as desired.

Enhance your in-app campaigns and ensure maximised returns. Reach your consumer by targeting digital natives – pull the users GPS location, device type, OS, gender, age, and wireless carrier, rather than just inserting cookies online. Geolocation gives you the ability to target fans in the right place at the right time. A fan’s location is a powerful driver of more relevant content. Use our Context Engine to easily tie your content to location-based triggers, such as beacons or geofences. You can use this to enhance the match experience or drive partner offers as fans exit the arena or roam nearby. Push Notifications give you the ability to nudge the user to get their attention. If they are within a certain distance of your store, you could send them a push notification to entice them in with offers. Finally, Analysed Reports on your campaign show you the exact impact your brand has created and the engagements, conversions, impressions gained. The kind of marketing returns that even your finance directors can wrap their heads around.

Currently, many of the biggest-spending sectors within digital advertising don’t look to sports as a natural route to market. In 2019, for example, retail contributed $28.3bn in digital advertising spend in the US alone, but only $2.9bn on sports sponsorship globally. Suggesting that this is a relatively trailblazing space for brands. You can easily create and deploy rich content campaigns, ready to roll out in days so your ideas can be put into action fast and effectively. With success already proven in North America with teams in the NBA, NFL, NHL and many college teams to enhance their digital capabilities for their commercial partners, brands such as Proctor & Gamble, Staples and many more have seen the direct returns from this opportunity. If you’re interested in high-impact brand activation for your brand within a club app, get in touch.

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