It’s almost impossible to go to a live sports event and not post about it on social media, with so many taking advantage of the occasion, should sports teams be focused on turning it into revenue?
Great content has never been more valuable. Snapchat charges upwards of $10,000 for brands to run a geofilter over the TD Garden on game nights. At best, the Celtics can arrange a revenue share, or buy the rights themselves and re-sell it at a premium to sponsors. However, since Snapchat is the platform who ultimately owns this audience, sports teams are at the mercy of Snapchat cutting them out of the deal. That’s just one example of digital sponsorship ambush.
How can sports properties defend their rights to own and monetise fan generated content themselves? At SXSW this year, Dewayne Hankins (CMO, Portland Trail Blazers), Scott Carlis (SVP Digital Media, Learfield Sports), Kirsten Corio (Managing Director Ticket Sales & Digital Strategy, USTA) and Anna Hu (Co-Founder, Brizi) discussed in-depth the crowded sports media & sponsorship landscape, and on how properties can leverage technology to own and monetise fan generated content themselves.
Brands want experiences, not logos
Sport has always been a social activity. With non-stop access to social media, the stadium experience is full of people looking down at their phones when play stops. In fact, 75% of fans sharing content to social media during the game, instead of paying attention to the traditional signage brands are paying for in-stadium.
This has led to millions of photos being shared with the main benefactor, the social media platforms themselves, instead of the teams that generate the content.
These platforms feed off of the value of this content and take advantage of the traffic they are now able to monetise. This has forced sports teams to find other ways to monetise their social channels. Corio touched on this, saying;
We need to do a better job of bringing [the] experience to life across social platforms. [Fans] already do it for us but how do we as the property owners do it in a way that’s more cohesive and monetised. This is our daily challenge
The team’s brand carries emotional value to consumers. However, if ambush-driven sponsors can associate with the team branding and target that fan base more effectively using Facebook, then teams are left out in the dust. To combat this, the fact is that digital can never replace real life experiences. Teams will always have a monopoly when it comes to in-stadium experiences, thousands of fans all cheering at the same time, those memories are considered sacred.
As Carlis stated, “it’s all about the FOMO (fear of missing out) and YOLO moments, It’s about sharing those experiences, it’s about the ego. To be able to socialise that point of view and get different access points to it is what makes social and sports so synergistic and so symbiotic. From a brand perspective and from a media perspective that’s enormously important when developing these campaigns and solutions for monetization around sponsorships”.
Think about it like this, if a digital heatmap of the world was created based on “emotional energy” being generated, the spots on the map that would glow brightest are stadiums.
What partners want from their sponsorships
Associating with the emotional value in content has been used as a tactic for years, but with the advancements in user-generated content technology, it’s starting to re-shape the traditional sports sponsorship landscape. Carlis gave a great explanation as to why fan-created content strategies have been doing so well in sports: “partners want that touch, they want that deeper integration to move beyond the marks and the logos, they want to feel like they’re creating deeper emotional connections and if they can be the author of those deeper emotional connections around the community, well that’s the Holy Grail.”
When it comes to creating deeper emotional connections, this year at the Australian Open, 35,000 photos were taken by fans using the BriziCam and seen by their friends over 6.5 million times, which connected the sponsor to authentic and highly-emotional content. These fans acted as brand advocates, elevating brand affinity and brand trust when their friends are scrolling through Facebook and see the brand associated with their personalised photo.
Another great case study is the Gatorade Snapchat lense launched as part of their Super Bowl campaign. It received over 165 million views and rather than being an intrusive ad, their brand actually became part of the experience. This is a great example of the brand attaching itself to the ecstatic emotions of both winning the Super Bowl and the 33 year old Gatorade shower tradition.
Tomorrow we will explore some ways to capitalise on all the fan generated content from sports venues, make sure you check that out.