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Digital media gives new access to sports fans

This is an excerpt from Strategic Sport Communication-3rd Edition by Paul M. Pedersen,Pamela C. Laucella,Edward (Ted) M. Kian & Andrea Nicole Geurin.

The recent rise of digital media provides a plethora of options for sport organizations to use for IMC purposes. As previously mentioned in this chapter, consumers are increasingly tech savvy and seek content about their favorite teams and athletes outside of game day broadcasts. Sport teams have begun capitalizing on this with digital media options such as video series posted to their website or social media that provides exclusive content, the development of team-specific or venue-specific smartphone apps, virtual reality (VR), and augmented reality (AR). These digital media platforms allow fans to feel a sense of closeness and affiliation with the organization that traditional marketing methods may not elicit.

Chelsea FC in the English Premier League has embraced original video content as a way of reaching fans and deepening their attachments. The Chelsea website features a series called "Ask Frank" in which head coach Frank Lampard answers a wide range of questions about topics from the team's performance to his own shopping preferences. Additionally, the website contains several highlight clips after every match, interviews with the players, and videos focused on historical moments in the club.

Regarding smartphone apps, the NBA's Golden State Warriors moved into a new stadium in 2019, the Chase Center in San Francisco. Together, the Warriors and Chase Center share an app that allows fans to view live game updates and stats, as well as information about the venue if they are attending in person. Venue information includes a ticket management system, events calendar, interactive maps of the arena, assistance with planning transportation to and from the arena, food and beverage ordering, and access to the Warriors' team shop for apparel and merchandise.

At the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics, global e-commerce, retail, and technology company Alibaba demonstrated its facial recognition capabilities in an interactive display for fans to try.

At the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics, global e-commerce, retail, and technology company Alibaba demonstrated its facial recognition capabilities in an interactive display for fans to try.

The NBA is currently leading the way in terms of sport leagues' use of VR and AR to engage with consumers. The NBA AR app allows fans around the globe to see up-close-and-personal footage of their favorite teams and players. Additionally, the league's games are broadcast via VR each week. The league refers to this connection strategy as immersive media. Because they are a trailblazer in terms of using AR and VR from a sport organization perspective, the league also understands that the use of AR and VR is a learning experience and they will have to adjust along the way to ensure the fan experience is optimized.

Sport organizations can also use these digital platforms to highlight their sponsorships. For example, Wembley Stadium in London showcased its sponsorship from mobile company EE by hosting a game called the Wembley Cup between two teams made up mostly of YouTube influencers, but they also included some famous soccer players such as Steven Gerrard. To promote the game, Wembley and EE joined forces to produce an eight-part series of programs broadcast on YouTube using the influencers who would play in the game. In the end, over 34,000 fans attended the game, rivaling the numbers of many Premier League games.

EE signage lines the walkway to Wembley Stadium in London, promoting the mobile provider's 5G capabilities.

EE signage lines the walkway to Wembley Stadium in London, promoting the mobile provider's 5G capabilities.

Use of Data Analytics in IMC

While many organizations use data analytics to fuel decisions about on-field aspects of the business (i.e., athlete analytics), sport organizations can also use analytics about customers to make business decisions. Organizations now have access to more data about their consumers than ever before, and many organizations take advantage of this data by using it to make business decisions. Referred to as customer relationship management,Kulpa (2017) defines it as "all of the activities, strategies and technologies that companies use to manage their interactions with their current and potential customers" (para. 1).

Using customer relationship management (CRM) provides sport organizations with several opportunities. Customer data can be used to understand drivers of demand for tickets and set ticket prices that will optimize attendance, understand consumers' behavior in terms of concession and merchandise purchases, understand which sections of the stadium customers prefer and how many tickets they typically purchase, and understand consumers' media preferences. This data helps sport organizations to identify the ideal methods by which to target specific consumers. While data can be incredibly useful for organizations, it is important for organizations to understand how to properly use their data to make meaningful business decisions. As Mondello and Kamke (2014) note, the key to using data effectively is identifying which data is actionable, which will allow organizations to adopt and implement data-driven strategies.

The NHL's Tampa Bay Lightning organization has embraced CRM. The Lightning focus on making data-driven decisions, such as identifying individuals who would be promising sales prospects. Using customer data and modeling, the Lightning can predict how likely a past customer is to buy a ticket again in the future, as well as how much the customer is expected to spend on tickets, which allows the Lightning to determine where to focus its sales efforts (Mondello & Kamke, 2014). According to Mumcu (2019), the use of business analytics in women's professional sport organizations lags behind men's leagues, but leagues such as the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA), Women's Tennis Association (WTA), Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA), and National Women's Soccer League (NWSL) are increasingly adopting analytics strategies to assist in areas such as ticket sales and pricing, consumer insights and marketing, content and media performance, sponsorship sales and evaluations, and branding.

More Excerpts From Strategic Sport Communication 3rd Edition

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