Sports Teams Need Big Data and Here’s Why

Umbel recently participated in the IMG World Congress of Sports conference in Los Angeles where some of the most well-known leaders from the sports world convened to discuss marketing, media and building global brands. With some of the biggest off-the-field celebrities in sports and entertainment, a recurring theme from the event was the importance of creating a customizable experience for fans — both inside and outside of the stadium.

Use Wi-Fi to create customizable experiences

For example, one of the attending sports teams shared how they are using wifi to better understand how and where fans are using data on their phones so the soccer club can better target them with concession deals and player and game news and statistics.

When asked about the current sports topic he’s most interested in, Mark Tatum, the Deputy Commissioner of the NBA, named the advances of in-stadium technology and the use of wifi to give fans a customizable experience at the game. Teams are clearly focused on maximizing the entire in-venue experience for fans — not just improving the on-the-field or on-the-court talent.

Include digital fans in addition to physical fans

However, brand engagement is not just happening at the game anymore.  No longer are teams relying on a few hours at the stadium to engage with their fans. They are now interacting with them on off-days and off-season. UFC’s Todd Goldstein said, “the virtual world is a lot bigger than the physical world.” The best way for teams to grow their fan bases, especially globally, is through digital. In order to do this, teams and leagues are creating and publishing content 24/7 to engage their audiences. As one exec put it, “we view ourselves as a content creator not just a football team.”

Leverage data to help personalize interaction with your brand

Of course, all of this increased engagement and personalization comes with the need for sports properties to fully understand their customer base. The NFL may be selling tickets for Thursday night games to young, male football fanatics, but they’re also selling tickets for Sunday daytime games to mothers who are bringing their children. The audiences are different, the avenues to reach these audiences are different and the approach teams must take to reach them are different. Teams can capitalize on these new engagement channels to capture detailed data on their fans who are purchasing tickets, logging into wifi at the stadium and consuming content on their website, and in turn, can use this data to market more effectively to them. Umbel recently helped the Indiana Pacers by better understanding their fan data and using that information to help sell out their games. 

To close, one of the best pieces of advice was the from the feature interview with Bob Iger, the Chairman and CEO of Disney. While he spoke more about his career and less about sports, his approachable nature and empowering management style was inspiring, and his advice for the audience was: “Take risks. Move fast. Be educated and forward-thinking. Admit when you fail or make a mistake and then move on quickly.”