Fan Behaviour – what we can learn from Google Search and Daily Active User trends

At InCrowd, we constantly look into how we can best utilise our data and visible trends to understand fan behaviour; this analysis is beneficial to both us and the rights holders we work with. Most recently, we looked into what we can learn about our fans from Google Search and Daily Active User(DAU) trends.

We did the necessary research to produce viable and informed answers using three of our main clients – Lets call them Club A, Club B and Club C. For each club we compared the DAUs and the number of Indexed Google searches on all days in the season so far, and in doing so, noticed that the standard (and expected) trend was that Google searches spiked on match days as did the DAUs – no surprise there.

However, two things stood out to us:

On match days, the magnitude of the Google Search spike was much greater than the DAU spike.

On the days where there was a decrease in users for both platforms, the dips for Google search queries were far more pronounced than the DAUs on the app; we actually noticed that apps maintained a decent number of DAUs on a daily basis, even on non-match days.


These observations suggest that the Google platform is a choice source of information on match days. However, Google users could be classed as non-reciprocal, one-off connections that are likely to disengage. Perhaps an away team fan or casual supporter looking for facilities info like travel and parking etc. App usage is clearly fan driven. These fans have an invested and consistent relationship with the app as their lead source of club content, on any day of the year and at any time.

We also asked ourselves what else could affect Google search and DAUs trends:

How about “Big Name” opposition?

Would playing a league leader, or a club from a higher league, have an effect on activity?
For Club A, the largest spikes were for matches against the biggest clubs in the country and those spikes came from Google. DAU numbers did not spike significantly higher than they would have for matches against smaller clubs. We can also speculate that a decent percentage of the Google queries will be coming from the big club supporters.

How about club rivalries?

Would a match against another local club, with storied rivalry, have an effect on usage?
For Club B there were some pronounced Google Search spikes, the largest of which occurred on the days that came up against their biggest rivals. However, once again, DAUs fluctuated only a little. This lends weight to the theory that Google Search numbers were again affected by outside sources. Oppositions fans, media picking up on the storied rivalry for their articles and other interested parties from outside either club.

Both of these mini case studies suggest the same thing – big club opposition and rivalries have little impact on DAUs.

Your fans care about the club, the team and the game, no matter who they are coming against.

What does all this mean?

Simple really. Clubs shouldn’t just rely on the internet and their website to give their fans what they need. Don’t make them search for it. Give fans a direct 24/7 portal to the club and you will see fan engagement and club advocacy improve significantly. To find out how we can help you and your club, contact us now via or head to

InCrowd Cast powers LED displays at ISE2018

InCrowd Cast have partnered with leading, global LED products and solutions provider Unilumin, providing the software to power and plan content for their extensive LED display at the Integrated Systems Europe 2018 Event in Amsterdam. Examples of advanced programmed and dynamic display include perimeter boards, centre “jumbo-tron”, ribbons and big screens.

InCrowd Cast puts user excitement back into multi-tier LED display planning. Our unique software solution allows faster, easier playlist creation for sponsor and brand content, giving you the valuable time needed to deliver unique and unforgettable stadium experiences. Spend more time enjoying our integrated live interactive content features and plugins to create an event that every fan will be sharing and talking about.

  • Create the ultimate fan experience with real time interactions including betting odds, final scores, live match statistics, live social media updates and interactive gamification content.
  • Meet the requirements of big brands looking for innovative promotional ideas by offering unique sponsorship opportunities through live activations, creating new customer connections and revenue streams.
  • Keep internal resource requirements to a minimum by implementing this multi-functional, user friendly software solution. Once installed, our software easily adapts to the individual parameters of the new stadium and can be reliably controlled by a single operator.

Join this group of leading organisations that have already improved the in-stadia experience for themselves, for sponsors and for fans…


For more information as to how InCrowd Cast can revolutionise your in-stadia digital output, visit If you have all the information you need, why not contact Ollie Clements to discuss your options?

+44 (0)20 3137 9873 |

Ben, Ollie and Jamey from the InCrowd Cast team are on site all week; if you’re at ISE2018 come and say hello and see Cast for yourself! The team would be happy to give you more information and discuss your requirements in detail.

Why sport?

26th November 2017.

The weekend in question was a cracker – England, Wales, Ireland and Scotland all involved in Autumn Rugby Internationals, Southampton were at home to a struggling Everton side (I’m a long suffering Saints fan), and the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix was the icing on the cake. 

Everything was set up for the ultimate weekend of sporting action – with Sky Sports, BT Sport and the BBC all providing the action right to my sofa. So, when my other half quizzed me on why I needed to watch all this sport – I was surprisingly perplexed as to what my answer should be. ‘Because I have to’, ‘Because I want to’,Because I need to’ were the answers at the tip of my tongue, answers akin to that of an addict.

So – it got me thinking, what is it about sport, that for so many like me, is so addictive? What brings people from all walks of life together as a single unit, a community?


At a bare minimum, sport is great content that draws in mass audiences to broadcasters ever expanding platforms. The sale of Premier League Chinese TV rights for £564m is an example of this, where the Chinese audience, without arguably any real geographic or historical allegiance to English Premier League clubs, flock to TV screens to watch the fast paced and unpredictable action of the Premier League.

In an ever-growing competitive media landscape, broadcasters, publishers, social media platforms and advertisers are all vying for content that draws in audiences to generate revenue. Sport remains the most stable source of exciting and unpredictable content around. Shows like the X-Factor are beginning to show their shelf life, with this years final drawing in a measly 4.4m viewers, the lowest since the show began in 2004. During the 2016 Olympic games in Rio, the BBC achieved a record television audience for an overseas Olympics with 45.24m people tuning in…the modern Olympics have been running since Athens 1896 – so no sign of a shelf life there.

Audiences gather to watch sporting events in the hope that they will see something unique, something memorable, something absorbing. The Olympics, Wimbledon, The Ryder Cup, The FA Cup and many more sporting events all provide this. The weekend of sporting action that I mentioned earlier had a scheduling clash –  England were playing Samoa, whilst Scotland were up against Australia at Murrayfield. Naturally, being English, my first port of call was England vs Samoa, where after just 9 minutes, England led 12-0. The result was inevitable. Boring. Dull. Predictable. I switched over to the BBC. Doddie Wear was walking onto the pitch with his 3 sons. Murrayfield rose to a former hero. The emotion was high, and the plot mesmerising. Stuart Hogg injured in the warm up, an Australian red card, a seesaw encounter with 12 tries, and ultimately a famous, record breaking victory for Scotland against Australia.

For just over 2 hours I was gripped by the emotion, the excitement, and yes the unpredictability of the action at Murrayfield. The predictability of the England v Samoa game made it dull so despite my English roots, I had little interest in the game. It’s for this same reason that we are seeing ever dwindling cricket test match attendances; statistically away teams have a mere 20% chance of actually winning a test. Graeme Swann sums this up perfectly:

‘Attendances in Test cricket are going down because you know who is going to win before you turn up…I’m a Newcastle fan and I turn up genuinely thinking they have a chance of winning every single game in the Premier League’.

Of course, not every sporting fixture will have a 50/50 probability. There will always be favourites and underdogs. But sport is at its finest when the outcome is unknown and it is this unpredictability that keep audiences, broadcasters, advertisers and sports addicts like myself coming back for more.


At its best, sport brings together nations, cities and people together. But in the same breath, sport can also be at its best when it divides nations, cities and people.

As I write this, I am travelling back from Australia, a sporting mad nation basking in the glory of an Ashes Test series win. As a ‘Pom’ in Australia during the Ashes, you are acutely aware of how united the country is in its desire to beat the English. Not only do the sly jabs, jokes and general ‘Pommybashing’ come from the average Australian in the bar it comes from every corner of Australian life.

The Rightsholder – Cricket Australia’s marketing messages carried the unsubtle, yet clear hashtag #BeatEngland

The Press – Where to begin…Sydney’s Daily Telegraph, no stranger to hyperbole, was the most enthusiastic declaring: “Rivalry dead: Brilliant Aussies humiliate pathetic Poms”

The Brands – Hardy’s Wine advertised: ‘Why can’t the Poms open a bottle of wine? Because they don’t have any openers’

It was Hardy’s that really grabbed my attention. At both Sydney and Melbourne Airports the advertisement was plastered all over the place on the drive into the terminals and within the terminals themselves. In bars in both cities the message was draped on the tables, bars and ceilings. And at the MCG and SCG the message was splashed across the big screen. I wonder whether at some point during the series poor Mark Stoneman, with his series average of 25.77, looked up at the stadium big screen, or at the airport advertising (he can’t have missed it!) and not only felt the pressure of facing Starc, Hazlewood, Cummins and Lyon but also the weight of this sporting rivalry. Hardy’s, as a sponsor of Cricket Australia, tapped into the nations narrative and rivalry, with the right message, to the right people at exactly the right time – and I expect have reaped the rewards. Programmatic, SEO and social media advertising is lauded for being able to deliver exactly the right message, to the right person, at the right time – but Hardy’s have proven that clever sponsorship initiatives can be just as effective.

In 2019, the Ashes will take place in England, and the sporting rivalry will continue…with fans, broadcasters and brands no doubt throwing shade right back at the Australians through all channels of communication. In an interesting twist, with Hardy’s also sponsoring English Cricket, it makes you wonder what their  2019 messaging will be…

Let’s just hope we have some openers!

To find out how your company can tap into the unpredictability, rivalry and addictive nature of sport and the passion and loyalty of sport fans, contact us now!


Why rightsholders need to think like creative agencies AND media owners

Why sponsorship has the potential to be stronger than ever

I read a fascinating article recently by Michael Broughton titled ‘Sponsorship is burning’. It highlighted the recent growth in digital media, specifically programmatic advertising, and how this growth threatens the sponsorship share of advertiser’s budgets from which rightsholders have historically benefitted.

The question posed, is that given programmatic advertising can target the right person, at the right place, at the right time…why on earth would you do anything else? Why spend money on sponsorship which is often expensive and cannot accurately track the subsequent benefits, when you can run a programmatic campaign and track every penny of revenue?

It is a very real question, and one that is currently being posed to rightsholders from potential sponsors, and ultimately having a dramatic effect on the market.

However, through the doom and gloom, there are 2 key reasons why sponsorship has the potential to be a stronger proposition than ever before, in today’s ever evolving and complex world.  But as Misha Ser wrote recently in ‘Sport asleep at the wheel’, rightsholders need to ‘evolve’, and in this piece, I discuss why I feel rightsholders should begin to view themselves as both creative agencies, and media owners in the face of the rise of programmatic advertising.

  1. Brands need compelling content ideas now more than ever

‘Content is king’ is probably one of the most used statements in the last year or so in the marketing industry, but is obviously a relevant one. With consumers now seeing on average 5,000 adverts a day, brands need a way to stand out from the crowded market place, and communicate with their target audience. It is often the job of creative agencies to come up with ideas that create that emotional bond with the consumer, and media agencies to then to deliver the message to that audience in the right environment. However, given the sheer amount of content now available through social media, websites and elsewhere, delivering that compelling brand message is becoming increasingly difficult. Take the recent McDonalds ‘Fillet-o-Fish’ campaign disaster as an example, where, if nothing else, it highlighted the extent a creative agency went to create a story that would resonate with the audience. It failed, on a quite spectacular scale, and I imagine at quite a cost.

This is where sponsorship still has its unique position. At a cost, arguably comparable to the work of a creative agency, it helps provide brands an identity to align with, ideas for inspiring content, a platform to share their brand message, and a credibility that will attract consumers. In a world where data and research influences every penny of marketing spend, the fact that 64% of people would rather buy from a brand that sponsors their sport, than one that doesn’t, highlights sponsorships unique offering (PSG Sponsorship). Sport generates a passion in humans that is rarely matched, and brands can tap into that in a natural and meaningful way.

I remember everything from the first ever Southampton FC game I attended at the Dell as a 6-year-old. I remember the soundtrack the players ran out too. I remember the smell. I remember the chants. And yes, I remember the Sanderson shirt logo, the Carling Premiership branding and the Draper Tools signage around the scoreboard. Why? Those brands stuck into my mind because of the sheer passion I had for Matt Le Tissier et al. Content therefore, ranging from fans unique experiences, to the epic, emotional battles on the pitch, provide brands with ammo to align their overarching message with.

This is something programmatic simply cannot do.

Programmatic is not a magic wand that can magically generate results, which is often the perception. The hard graft (and cost) of creating a brand identity remains.

However, back then, the 6-year-old me was clearly not in any need of power tools for example, and therefore you could argue that the Draper Tools sponsorship was wasted on me. And of course, it was, back then at least. But a prime target for power tools would have been my Dad, who as well as being a devout Southampton fan, also regularly did DIY work in the garden and around the house. Therefore, if there was a way back in 1996, for Draper Tools to subsequently translate his passion for Southampton FC and need for power tools into direct, trackable revenue, in a targeted and efficient way…then I’m sure they would have jumped at the opportunity.

This is what programmatic can do.

Surely then, rightsholders should be thrilled that their partners, have a way of further translating the benefits of sponsorship into trackable revenue, in the same way a creative agency would be thrilled if a media agency translated their work into a successful, profitable campaign. And in that sense, rightsholders should begin to view themselves as creative agencies, providing brands with ideas, stories, and an identity, which can then be amplified through programmatic and other channels. The fact that the activation-to-fee ratio has passed two to one for the first time ever, and that 98% of brands use social media to further activate their sponsorship, highlight this is happening, which was not the case back in 1996. (IEG)

This philosophy alone, however, assumes that money grows on trees, and that brands can afford to not only spend a chunk on sponsorship, but also spend a further amount activating through other channels to ensure revenue from that sponsorship is driven. Michael Broughton in his article is actually a big advocate of sponsorship, but questions how rightsholders will fare when brands are allocating budgets.

And that is why, it is crucial, that rightsholders also begin to see themselves as media owners.

  1. Brands demand a ROI

Put simply, the days of impressions are dead.

It’s a worthless metric.

Not only in sponsorship, but in the advertising industry as a whole. Brands are now under incredible pressure from board room level to deliver results from every penny of marketing spend. As a result, post campaign presentations no longer focus on impressions, reach, or even clicks. It’s all about that headline number. Test drives. Hotel bookings. Bets placed…Revenue.

This of course, is where programmatic has thrived, and forced the channels of print, TV, and even social media to think hard about how they service this requirement.

Sponsorship, and specifically rightsholders are now very much now in the same situation. IEG research highlights this, by showing that assistance measuring ROI was the most desired service expected from a rightsholder. Thus, in the same way that traditional print media owners have had to evolve from print to digital, to then working with data management platforms (DMP), simply to survive…rightsholders also need to act. They need to think like media owners.

A logo on the front of a team’s shirt, in isolation, is no longer enough. Don’t let the short termism of Chinese betting brands or Premier League sleeve sponsorships this summer cloud that statement…rightsholders need to prove to brands that they can drive trackable ROI from the partnership, otherwise, as Phil Stephan from Two Circles suggested in his blog, “they risk being left behind”. In today’s world, that means being digital first. The 2017 report ‘What sponsors want and where the dollars will go’ summed up these challenges well when explaining that sponsorship spend may have dipped due to “a lingering gap between sponsor expectations and properties’ ability to deliver when it comes to both personalised marketing opportunities based on data, and valuable digital content and platforms”.

Rightsholders have the huge advantage, that they have substantial, passionate fanbases waiting to be unlocked. Listening to Gareth Balch, CEO of Two Circles, recently was fascinating. He explained that his message to their clients, is that there is a treasure chest of fan data, just waiting to be opened to the rightsholders benefit. As Two Circles are proving, this is true, and they are helping rightsholders drive revenue using data through ticketing, retail and sponsorship. In a similar vein, rightsholders should also be confident that they have another valuable treasure chest, which they can offer to their sponsors.

As the latest Nielsen report points, “the smartest rightsholders are already using their in-depth knowledge of their fan base to ensure brand partners are activating in the most effective way. The smartest brands are already demanding such information from their sponsorship property”. It’s only a matter of time before the majority wake up, and if rightsholders begin to show to brands, that through a fan focused, owned digital platform, they can clearly drive a trackable ROI from sponsorship spend…then I feel rightsholders will have gone some way towards protecting themselves from programmatic cannibalising brands budgets.

Obviously, this is where I begin to talk about InCrowd’s work in this area. For another time…

In summary, yes, it might sound weird to describe rightsholders as both creative agencies and media owners, because of course they are not. Rightsholders are unique and powerful in their own way. However, by thinking, and learning from how those organisations work with brands in today’s complex world, then rightsholders will ensure that sponsorship has never been a stronger proposition for brands.

How Sport Sponsorship can Develop more Valuable Digital Rights

Making the most of a mobile moment

Advertising is a dynamic industry; that much is a fact. If you are in need to evidence, any number of sources will show you how budget spend has moved from area to area and how it is projected to continue to do so.

Advertising evolves to follow the consumers, who are remarkably fickle in how and when they expect to be communicated with. Timing, whilst always important, has never been more crucial; and this is due at least in part to the rise of mobile connectivity: Because instant became possible, it became expected with the immediacy and locational transferability of a smartphone altering the way in which consumers can respond to marketing messages.

It doesn’t necessarily mean that they will.


Digital marketing messages can be exceptionally well targeted; that much is undeniable. On lines of demographics, interests, and purchase history it is possible to target the most relevant people; but are you targeting those people at the time they are best hit? In all likelihood, probably not.

Timing is essential. But that presents its own set of challenges; many of them logistical. The chart below demonstrates this fantastically well; and it would also be interesting to know the style, form, quality, and consistency of moment-responses generated in such short timeframes.

Moment Marketing 1

Credit: eMarketer

However, producing great content at the right time can be – and has been – done exceptionally well as the two examples below demonstrate. They also demonstrate why 67% of digital marketers in the UK expect to increase their spend on moment marketing in 2016.

Mobile Marketing 2

One of the most famous example of moment marketing. The lights go out at Superbowl XLVII and OREO produced this Tweet in around 10 minutes, before the lights came back on. It was retweeted 10,000 times within the first hour.

Mobile marketing 3AFC Bournemouth all but guarantee promotion to the Premier League in their penultimate match of the 2014/15 Championship season. Their goal difference makes them near impossible to catch and they celebrate accordingly; with Charlton their last fixture of the season.

These examples both had the moment created for them, and they acted on it, but wouldn’t advertising, or digital content, be easier if you knew what the moment was going to be? Or even better: What if you could create the moment?

Within direct advertising, it will be difficult to create that moment. However, great sponsorship activations create great moments and what’s more, they create them at a scheduled time. This is a move away from the immediacy of moment marketing, to right-moment marketing.

Thanks to mobile connectivity, anywhere can be the right place and if you can get the right content at the right time, it can go a long way.


What 5G means for sport

Sport rights holders are approached by numerous companies looking to sell Wi-Fi and other in stadia connectivity solutions. The reasons for this are three fold:

1. Smart phone penetration in the UK will reach 80% by the end of 2015, fans now have devices that will benefit from connectivity

2. Fans, particularly the millennials generation expect to be connected. A Cisco study shows that 44% of fans site connectivity as very important to their experience with over half now preferring to watch at home

3. Connectivity allows rights holders and sponsors to talk to fans when they are at their most engaged

Most solutions are expensive and it is often difficult to justify the cost of a Wi-Fi install. The advent of 5G, due to be released in South Korea in 2018 will dramatically change connectivity and as a result in stadia fan engagement.

The Power of 5G

Scientists from Surrey University believe it is now possible to run a wireless data connection at an astounding 800Gbps – which would allow users to download 33 HD films in a single second. The speeds and huge data capacities will revolutionise many markets and sport is just one of these.

The UK and South Korea are leading the way; Surrey University and partners will be deploying 5G trials in Brighton and a number of other testbeds around the UK, whilst there are plans to launch a temporary trial for 2018’s Winter Olympic Games. It is likely that this will be more widely available in the UK by 2020.

How will 5G affect current systems?


1.    High-Density Wi-Fi

Although high density Wi-Fi has been installed in a limited number of venues in the UK, providers such as Cisco and Huawei and have found it hard to gain acceptance from clubs. With costs ranging from £500K to £2m per venue this is hardly a surprise. In addition, calibrating all the access points in a concrete bowl is an incredibly complicated task and reliability can be a problem. 5G could make the need for high density Wi-Fi completely redundant.

2.    Peer-to-Peer Networking

Using Wi-Fi direct (the technology that automatically connects your mobile phone to your Wi-Fi at home), peer to peer networking enables phones with the same mobile app to share information in a local network rather than needing to connect directly to Wi-Fi or 3G/4G. If one person has a connection in the stadium then they share the live scores with all those sitting in the same stand.

The more people on this network, the better it performs and for this reason it could become more important when 5G hits the UK market and clubs are looking to share larger amounts of data with their fans.

3.    Multicasting

Multicasting is a networking technology that greatly reduces the cost of distributing over any wireless network.  If a thousand people want to see the same content, rather than sending the same content one thousand times, multicast will allow all thousand devices to register and receive a single sending of the data. Essentially it allows a one-to-many distribution of content (e.g. video) rather than having to replicate data requests from multiple users. This technology can be used by clubs to send out video highlights to fans at half time. Multicast will likely be available in the next generation of 5G systems, as well as its availability in Wi-Fi, and will thus provide a legitimate alternative to a pure Wi-Fi solution.

What will this mean for fans?

In stadia fan experience is about atmosphere, being with friends and cheering your team. What does 5G have to do with this? Connectivity does not necessarily change the fan experience but it can dramatically enhance it.

Here are a few areas where providing fans with mobile functionality can enhance their experience:

1. Content: delivering live match analysis, half time replays and ref decisions to fans. TV does this brilliantly and currently fans are less well informed in the stadium

2. Participation: enabling fans to take part in voting for the man of the match, betting, predicting the score at half time and even challenging away fans to quiz head to heads

3. Logistics: ordering drinks, tickets to the next match, knowing how long it will take to the leave the stadium, upgrading  your seat

Much of this functionality is possible at the moment but 5G will make this activities like this more seamless for fans and less expensive for rights holders. Combine this with good old fashioned team support and there will be no comparison when it comes to experience.

Image: ©Getty Images

A few simple charity fundraising tricks for sports clubs

67 million tickets are sold for spectator sports in the UK each year. This represents a huge opportunity for charities to involve the crowd in fundraising, much like charities at the London Marathon do. Crowd initiatives will create positive sentiments towards the sports club and improve the fan’s experience. It would also be a lot simpler than running 26.2 miles around London!


High volume, small payments are integral to fundraising plans

  • Micropayments are more accessible than ever: traditional direct debit donations (e.g. £3 a month), SMS payments and rounding up at the till are all examples of charities benefiting from micropayments. Using a range of these, Unicef raised £3.7 million at the Commonwealth Games Opening Ceremony.
  • Significant benefits: the majority of charities who receive most of their funding from members of the public (rather than government funding), get in excess of 60% of their income from donations of £10 or less.

Increased ticket sales to certain personality types

Behavioural psychologists such as Carl Jung, Myers and Briggs have developed the idea that different personalities react well to different messaging.

A personality type with values linked to authenticity, community, ethics and morality has been proven to react better to more charitable messages. For sports clubs, this personality type could form up to 30% of their customer base so promoting charitable causes would increase ticket sales amongst this group.

Ethical Goods, a company that matches charities with businesses, produced a 400% uplift in sales for Harrogate Spa at the same time as raising over £1.6m+ for Pump Aid through a simple partnership promotion.

Benefits of marketing through charities

Charities are masters of managing databases to build support. Their relationships need to last a lifetime. For example, a supporter acquired through an event or direct debit relationship may go on to leave a legacy and learning those trends over many years is vital to a charities success.

Consequently charities have an engaged audience who will react well to sensibly targeted marketing coming from the charity. If a charity can promote tickets for the club and in turn raise more money then this seems like a fair exchange.

Some Ideas for Starters

The key to all these ideas is that the team, players or fans need to be involved in the fundraising process.

  1. Sponsor me to wear Pink
  • Players are sponsored by fans and their team mates (perhaps a week’s wages) to wear a pink shirt during the match in support for Breast Cancer Care or Cancer Research.
  • Fans, in the same way as being sponsored for a marathon, are sponsored by their friends and family to attend the match dressed head to toe in pink.
  • Both players and fans would set up fundraising pages and it would certainly create a buzz around the home team’s city as well as some fantastic photo opps.
  1. Ticket donation matched by the club… IF the team wins
  • On purchasing the ticket a fan can donate £5 to a charity.
  • This amount will be matched by the club if the team wins.
  1. £1 per goal
  • Season ticket holders donate £1 for every goal scored that season.
  • This is matched by the club for each ticket holder.
  1. Charity Seating
  • Most sold out participant events reserve entries for charities, after a certain point it is only possible to enter if you commit to raising money for charity.
  • In the same way, for the final 1,000 tickets, a club could add a £10 donation to each ticket.

Continuing the hard work of clubs and player

Scepticism often surrounds the good work that clubs and players do for charitable causes, mainly due to the size of player wages. Sometimes this is justified but often not. There are multiple cases of clubs working in the community – there were 39,658 football player visits to charitable schemes in the 2013-14 season alone.

Involving the crowd goes a step further and would provide many commercial and PR benefits to both the clubs and associated charities.

Mass Participation Sports Should use the Nectar Card Model to Increase Event Entries

A whopping 95% of consumers in the UK own at least one loyalty card. With so much focus on doing 30 minutes of exercise 3 times a week I believe people should be rewarded for taking part in running, cycling and swimming events using the successful Nectar card model.

This would have two effects:

  1. Increased participation: Nectar found that after a card holder was first rewarded they increased their activity in all shops associated with the card by 10%. The feeling of being rewarded and the material benefits that come with a points scheme would drive participation.
  2. Improved customer understanding: With enough event organisers taking part in the scheme, a single view of each participant would be created rather than multiple disparate data sets currently owned and guarded by event organisers.

Using Data to Funnel Participation

Event organisers like IMG, Human Race and Limelight would be able to learn more about customer behaviour outside their own events, answering questions such as:

  • How do I compare when retaining customers or attracting new customers?
  • Is someone who took part in a Colour Run seeking new challenges?
  • Has a seemingly lapsed runner moved on to triathlon?

The data would show which participant has a greater propensity to enter a particular type of event. This in turn would lead to more targeted and effective marketing for the event organiser and ultimately a clear funnel of participation from first event through to regular exerciser.

Learning from the Theatre Industry

Purple Seven is a company that works with multiple theatres in the UK to create a holistic view of the habits of all theatre goers.

By collecting data from each ticket transaction (37m of them), Purple Seven can analyse anonymised data that allows theatres to improve their service for ticket buyers. 110 theatres provide this data to Purple Seven and benefit with higher ticket sales using the actionable insights created.

Rewarding All Activity

Wearable tech has grown rapidly in the last 3 years. Kantar Media predicts that there will be 13.1 million users of apps or wearable technology in the UK by 2015.

Apps and devices that measure exercise could become part of the scheme, increasing the frequency of reward and inspiring more participation and enjoyment in training. The more a participant’s exercise is tracked the better the rewards and experience will be.

Positive Message with Benefits for Sponsors

Rewarding people for being active and healthy is a more positive message than for their “loyalty” to a coffee chain. It presents numerous opportunities for brands to become part of that reward, creating healthier opportunities for event sponsors to engage with participants.

What better way for a brand to connect with someone than offering a free coffee to congratulate them for completing their recent cycling challenge.

Tackling the Competitive Events (this is the most interesting Nectar stat in my opinion!)

One perceived problem of this rewards scheme is that event organisers may feel they are handing over participants to their competitors. Sainsbury’s looked long and hard at this with their Nectar relationship, especially as other brands that formed part of Nectar sold items like wine and petrol. What they found was that weekly spending at Sainsbury’s was 40% greater amongst people collecting from Sainsbury’s and two other Nectar affiliates than if they just collected at Sainsbury’s. This then increased to 100% if the collector was using Nectar at 5 or 6 affiliates.


The message here is that the more events on the scheme, the greater the benefits for those events individually and overall.

Worth the Investment?

This would require significant investment in technology to work across all event and exercise systems but I believe there is a compelling argument for rewarding participants for exercise.


Millennials can be Persuaded to Watch More Sport

Gamers aren’t usually linked with the sporting community but nearly as many people go to eSports events (over 12 million) as attend Premier League football matches (just under 14 million). I think there is an opportunity for sport to integrate live gaming competitions that will embrace the Millennial Generation.

The fast growing eSports industry

When I hear the word gaming it conjures up images of teenage boys hunched over a console in a darkened room. That was before I discovered eSports, live gaming events where attendance is growing exponentially. With 67% of gamers wanting to go to more events more often, this growth is set to continue.

This is a brave new world for sport’s administrators but gamers are looking for the same experiences that sports fans have enjoyed for centuries. They want to be part of a community, meet their heroes, enjoy an atmosphere and watch their favourite teams and players. Sound familiar?

Generation Y

Sport’s rights holders need a strategy to engage the millennial (18-34 year old) generation. 69% of this group (more than any other age group) can be persuaded to attend more sports events according to Mintel. In fact as this graph below shows, the older someone gets the less likely they are to change their sport viewing habits.

75% of gamers are in this age group and 54% of these also watch traditional sports. If sports clubs in particular want to position themselves at the centre of a community then they can’t ignore gamers.



London vs. Manchester

Take two of the largest communities in the UK. I would like to see football teams in each of these cities working together to create a new rivalry.

For example, Arsenal could create its own London based gaming team under the Gunners brand and play against a similarly constructed team from Manchester. The gamers could then play on the eve of an Arsenal vs. Manchester United match, juxtaposing the competitions to increase the reach of both events. Gamers would take an interest in how their team does on the football pitch and traditional United and Gunners fans would take interest in their gaming counterparts.

Benefits for the Teams

eSports is still relatively underdeveloped and the industry would benefit from having big sports brands like Arsenal involved.

For major sports teams, this is an opportunity to expand fanbases, create additional rights and generate new commercial opportunities. Ticketing is the most obvious income stream but there would also be new sponsorships, licensing deals and a whole host of digital rights. As the table below shows, when gamers attend an event, they like to buy more merchandise than the traditional sports fan:


Major Event Integration

And why stop there? Perhaps the International Olympic Committee could include gaming as one of its sports? That may well irritate squash’s governing body which has spent over 20 years unsuccessfully campaigning to become part of the world’s biggest sports event. All the same, embracing the gaming community would certainly see an increase in Olympics followers. It would also put eSports on the map in a big way.

Simple Gaming at Existing Events


If so many gamers are interested in live sports then at the very least sports events should build interactive products to engage this audience. Generation Y want to be connected and entertained during a match. It is no longer enough to rely on the atmosphere of a football crowd – without developing additional engagement the in stadia experience will fall further behind TV.

This is a group that rights holders can’t ignore, they behave differently to traditional sports fans but are becoming increasingly important. Sport should take this opportunity to broaden its appeal.

If you want to be truly amazed by the world of eSports then watch the first 30 seconds of this video: