Focus on: Notts County

Notts County Football Club, or the Magpies, founded in 1862, is the oldest professional football club in the world. It currently competes in League Two but its rich history includes periods of success (such as an FA Cup victory) and struggle (several financial crises) across all four divisions of English professional football.

Notts County’s home is Meadow Lane where they first started playing in 1910 and have remained there since. They traditionally play in black and white striped shirts and lent their colours to Juventus in 1903.

The average attendance in the 2017/2018 season was 7,911 per match. The club has also a very large overseas following, with one of the highest number of overseas fans in the Football League - mostly from Italy and Hungary!

Stadia Solutions - The official concourse advertising partner of Notts County FC - provides an affordable way for businesses to reach new customers. Our packages provide a way for any business to show support for the Pies, and advertise to over 230,000 potential customers across the season.

Advertising at Meadow Lane’s posters and FanTV is a unique opportunity to get your business in front of a passionate audience and be associated with the traditional club.

For more info and specs CLICK HERE.

 

If you would like to discuss the possibility of your company advertising on either our A3 posters in washrooms, larger concourse six sheet posters or our concourse TV systems at Notts County or one of our other grounds, please drop us a line on info@stadiasolutions.com or call 020 7100 4545.

Root for your roots – a great idea

It’s quite rare that a marketing idea stops me in my tracks and makes me say ‘wow’. That’s not because I don’t like ideas, I think it’s more because there are too many, well, crap ideas out there that they all tend to merge in to one giant crappy idea ball.

I could go on for ages about what makes a good marketing idea, but I won’t, and instead will just tell you the problem and the solution the idea delivered.

The Background: Fox Sports in the USA paid $400m for the US broadcast rights for the 2018 & 2022 FIFA World Cups.

The Problem: The USA team fell at the last hurdle in qualifying and didn’t make it to the 2018 tournament going on at the moment in Russia. The real problem for Fox being that the domestic TV audience was likely to be way down on the forecasts when they bid for the rights.

The Question: How could they fill some or all of this likely drop in audience?

The Solution: Work with a DNA analysis company (23andme) to let people look at their ancestry composition and work out a substitute team to support on Fox Sports during the tournament. You can read more about the idea here.

Is it going to make up for the millions of bucks lost? Of course not. But is it a great idea? I think so.

In case you’re wondering, I’ve got English, German and Polish DNA so I should have a pretty good World Cup even if the Big Red Machine doesn’t keep banging in the goals for us. COME ON ENGLAND!!!

These are the best World Cup adverts ever!!

It’s the eve of the World Cup, so we thought we should talk about the most important thing to do with it: advertising!

Only joking, we know it’s not the most important thing, that’s the Fantasy Football league we’re running in the office, but we ARE going to talk about advertising - it's kind of what we do.

In particular we’re going to look at the best and worst World Cup-associated advertising that we can remember… The list has been shortlisted by Mat and voted on by the team in the office today. Yes, it really is that scientific & official.

Some of you may be asking why we’re getting involved in the World Cup with a blog post on it when we focus on domestic football in England, Wales & Scotland. We say, why not jump on the World Cup bandwagon – everyone else is.

Before we go anywhere, this gives us the chance to honour and remember the best football advert ever made, regardless of its non-association with the World Cup:

Sky Sports PL coverage 1996/1997 with Sean Bean

But that's enough about my man crush of late-90's Sean Bean...

So without further a-do let's get on with our top eight (sorry, we got a bit bored at eight) all-time best World Cup football advertisements ever!! (I'm very excited, can you tell?).

In joint seventh place we have two entrants from the same company. Nike are renowned for their World Cup advertising, and I remember reading a study somewhere that asked people who they thought were an official FIFA World Cup sponsor, Adidas or Nike. And guess what? Adidas were/are the partner but people thought it was Nike simply because of their surrounding advertising. Advertising like these two great pieces of content:

Nike Secret Tournament 2002

Nike ‘Good v Evil’ 1996

In sixth place we've got this from an official partner of multiple FIFA World Cups, McDonald's.

I'm not sure if this is the best ad in the world, but as it features one of our favourite midfielders from the 2000's (Scott Parker), it makes the cut:

McDonald’s and Scott Parker 1994

Next we've got a beer brand from 2010. Not the best World Cup in my book, in fact this advert made me feel a bit better about the whole thing. I think it was the vuvuzela's that did it for me. That and the fact England were poor in scraping in to the knockout stages after draws against Algeria and the U.S.A., only to get bashed up by Germany 4-1 in the second round (when Lampard scored but didn't score if memory serves correct).

Anyway, we liked this effort because it reminded us that we're pretty good at sport when we take a step back and think about it - Redgrave, Fogarty, Taylor etc...

Carlsberg Team Talk 2010

I've lost count now, but I think we're at number 4 on our countdown. And that means another entry for Nike (it's almost as if they spend millions and millions of pounds a year making advertising isn't it):

Nike ‘Winner Stays On’ 2014

So to number 3. Some call this slot the bronze medal position. In this countdown we'll call it winner of the third-place play-off (what's the point of those by the way?). And this one is the most recent one our list, fresh from Lidl's association with the FA. I liked it because it showed the talent involved (Raheem Sterling, Gary Cahill & Kyle Walker) as being decent, normal people. Well done Lidl.

Now to the first placed loser. They've made their way through the group stages, three rounds of knockout matches and then lost. They are losing finalists. AND IT'S ONLY ANOTHER ONE FROM NIKE ISN'T IT!?!??

But hopefully you'll agree this is a really good one, from France 1998 following the Brazil team that Nike sponsor as they check in at the airport to get the plane to Paris.

Most people think this was a structured/planned shoot but actually was shot completely naturally - this is how Ronaldo, Roberto et al always check in at the airport even when the cameras aren't rolling (it's really annoying for other passengers) although maybe not now as they are all about 50 I guess. Enjoy...

Nike ‘Airport’ 1998

Well done, you made it to the end. How on earth did you get this far? Well seeing you're here we'd better tell you who won!!

And this really was the runaway winner in the office vote. It had it all, and if you don't believe me just read this list (yes we made a list):

Nostalgia - tick

World Cup legends - tick

Bacon sandwiches - tick

Chris Waddle-related banter - tick

Beer - tick

And, seriously for a second, some performances from some of the people who make football so great for us who are no longer with us.

Probably the best World Cup advert in the world.

Carlsberg ‘Old Lions’ 2006

That’s it! COME ON ENGLAND!!

And remember if you would like to continue football-advertising-fever in to the 2018/2019 domestic season, the Stadia Solutions are ideally placed to help you with our advertising posters in 39 professional clubs across the country from Celtic in the north to Portsmouth in the south, including concourse TV systems in eleven of them. Get in touch with us to see how we can get your advertising in front of up to 400k fans a week…

 

PS - James in the office says this needs to go on the list even though it's not an advert:

Comic Relief & the England football team

Premier League Advertising Opportunity – Wolves FC

With a huge heritage, increasing attendances, new owners, new manager and record signings – Wolves clearly showed ambition to get themselves ready for the Premier League. The team won the 2017–18 EFL Championship and will compete in the top tier of English football league system for the first time since the 2011–12 season.

Stadia Solutions - The official concourse advertising partner of Wolverhampton Wanderers FC - provides an affordable way for businesses to reach new customers. Stadia Solutions’ upgrade to nearly 100 FanTV screens at the ground means more stats as well as the live action on the pitch, but also a new local advertising platform, alongside 100+ posters all around the ground.

Our packages provide a way for any business to show support for Wolves, and advertise to over 500,000 potential customers across the season.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertising at The Molineux, home to the best football in the world next season, is a unique opportunity to get your business in front of a passionate audience and be associated with a Premier League club.

For more info, poster specs and the stadium map CLICK HERE.

If you would like to discuss the possibility of your company advertising on either our A3 posters in washrooms, larger concourse six sheet posters or our concourse TV systems at Wolves or one of our other grounds, please drop us a line on info@stadiasolutions.com or call 020 7100 4545.

Our new advertising website

As you may have noticed, we've spent a bit of time of our website recently to make it easier for potential advertisers to see what we've got to offer. Well, more to the point, to show potential advertisers the different ways they can access the 350k-400k football fans that go through our clubs' turnstiles each week.

If you think we're missing anything then please feel free to reach out and tell us, after all we want this section of the website to be as easy to use as possible, as well as being as relevant as possible.

So the section starts with the main advertising page www.stadiasolutions.com/advertising. It's a simple enough structure with everything running from the menu at the top of the page. In here you'll find a page on each format:

  • FanTV - our concourse TV system giving brands the chance to advertise to fans on matchday who are being entertained by the TV content being shown on screen
  • Six sheets - our larger format concourse paper posters placed around each ground offering engagement with fans in groups while they are likely talking about the game or something else to do with the club
  • A3 posters - we've got over 5,000 A3 sized posters in washrooms giving advertisers that desired one-on-one engagement for 30-60 seconds. These offer relatively high frequency as well with most fans visiting the loos three or four times per game

You'll also find links to our advertising social media accounts, too: Twitter and LinkedIn

You can then have a look at our map, which shows you where each of our clubs are - this will be developed as time goes by to give more information on each club.

Next we have a clickable list of our clubs (which you can also access from the main menu league by league) which will give you a direct link to a page on every club we work for, from Celtic in the North to Portsmouth in the South.

Lastly we have a few images on our gallery, although if you want images for specific clubs then you can find them on each club's page, along with the advertising poster specs.

That's it, not the most exciting blog post in the world but hopefully a useful one. If you think of anything that we can add to the site to make things easier for you,  or if you would like to discuss the possibility of your company advertising on either our A3 posters in washrooms, larger concourse six sheet posters or our concourse TV systems at one or more of our grounds, please drop us a line on info@stadiasolutions.com or call 020 7100 4545.

What a great audience you’ve been…

How do you know who sees your Out Of Home advertisement? What, or whose, numbers are you buying and using when you plan your campaign to decide what should be spent where? How do you know these numbers are correct and/or reliable?

These are some of the questions that many advertisers have in their mind when thinking about buying particular sites from, or working with, a media owner.

And (usually after seeing how great we are at delivering audiences in large quantities pretty quickly) we get similar questions posed to us when talking to prospective advertisers.

So, what we thought we would do today is start a new series of blog posts which dive in depth in to what can seem to be the murky waters of OOH audience measurement. Spoiler alert: it’s not so murky as you think.

The big advantage we have over most OOH media owners is that we don’t have to guess our footfall. How come? Simply it comes down to ticketing – we know exactly how many people are in each of our grounds for each game, and so do you, just tune in to Sky Sports Football Centre on a Saturday afternoon and any updates in the second half will have the attendance detailed.

It is pretty immediate as well. In fact, with the advent of digital turnstiles (think Oyster cards & barcodes) at many grounds we know how many are in the ground on an hourly basis. For example, did you know that roughly 15% of fans turn up over an hour before Saturday 3pm kick-offs? (We’ll be exploring these data more in the future in-case you’re interested.)

We can get clever, through our use of WiFi tracking. and work out audience flows around the grounds. We can use this to make sure your advertising gets in front of the groups within our audience that you want to target. And I bet you didn't know this, but we actually work with stadium operations & security teams to make sure our concourse sites go in places where people congregate (meaning you get dwell time and the stadium gets optimal customer flow).

We can also make some pretty robust assumptions about OTS & impacts through looking at how many times on average each fan visits the bar and toilets on matchdays.

Hopefully you’ll agree that, as we said earlier, it’s pretty easy to build an accurate picture of how many people see each of our sites.

If you would like to discuss the possibility of your company advertising on either our A3 posters in washrooms, larger concourse six sheet posters or our concourse TV systems at one or more of our 40+ grounds, please drop us a line on info@stadiasolutions.com or call 020 7100 4545 and ask for Mat Court.

Time For Small Clubs To Play A Smart Commercial Game

Football may seem like it’s awash with money, but away from the biggest clubs, most need to find new streams of revenue, says Stadia Solutions' James Cook...

Football may seem like it’s awash with money, but away from the biggest clubs, most need to find new streams of revenue.

Outside of the Premier League, where TV money provides a safety net, smaller clubs have more urgency to unlock incremental and sustainable sources of income.

As my role involves building commercial partnerships with clubs, I spend a lot of time talking to clubs of all sizes in different leagues. The more I meet, the more optimistic I feel about new commercial opportunities that can be explored, but are as yet untapped.

Take a typical lower-league club with an ageing ground in the middle of a town or city. That’s a prime piece of real estate, highly visible in the local community – most likely surrounded by passing traffic and often close to shops and public transport. Why then, are so many of these venues apparently closed for business outside of home match days? Clubs need to think how they can make their stadium pay – not just on match days, but 365 days a year.

You can see this thinking with many of the new stadia being built around the country. No new project gets off the ground unless the stadium is integrated with other revenue-generating assets – a hotel, shops, cinemas and restaurants. The modern stadium has become a multi-purpose venue that has football at its core, but plays a larger role as a focal point in the community, attracting business day after day, throughout the year.

Smaller clubs may think, “that’s fine for Roman Abramovich, but we have a 100 year-old ground where the only ‘incremental revenue’ is food and drink.”

But it’s not too late to adopt a smaller-scale version of this new way of thinking. In fact, it could be the key to keeping the club afloat in the long term.

Advertising, using screens outside the ground, is an obvious place to start. Think again about that central position the club may have in the community. Think of the traffic passing, the volume of people who see your club every day. Advertising screens on the outside of the ground – looking out into the community, as opposed to inside only – are a real opportunity. Remember, your value as an advertising medium in this context has nothing to do with your league position. It is all to do with location, position and passing eyeballs. You could be sitting on a prime piece of outdoor media.

Inside the ground, think about how you can drive new revenues on match and non-match days. When the ground is full of fans for a home fixture, concourse TV can provide an important advertising medium, but only if you add value for the fans by also providing relevant and targeted content that adds to the match-day experience.

You may not even need to buy these screens – a model whereby the advertising revenue is shared in return for installation of the hardware, is possible. The same is true for wi-fi networks, in the stadium bowl and in the hospitality areas. Wi-fi is increasingly being used as a money-making platform by sports clubs, in football and beyond, particularly in the U.S. Whether its betting or merchandise sales, engaging with fans and visitors online can enhance their experience and unlock new commercial opportunities. Up-front investment is not always necessary - there are many business models that can make it affordable and profitable.

Another key opportunity is to think about what the ground can host outside of the relatively small number of home fixtures in the football season. No asset of this size should shut its doors and go quiet for weeks and months on end. Music concerts, corporate events are just two opportunities that can be explored – think of the ground as a venue in the widest sense. And remember, that in order to attract this kind of extra business, it pays to have some attractive inventory and assets to offer – such as wi-fi or digital signage. Forward-thinking investment will help to bring the business in.

Finding these sustainable revenue streams can make all the difference for a smaller club, as it is more achievable to balance its on-pitch investment, with off-pitch income. If you have the wage bill and transfer costs of Manchester United, you’re not going to make that back with some advertising and Coldplay doing a gig in August. And in any case, the TV money is there to protect you.

However, if you’re lower league, your off-pitch income can account for a far larger share of the overall business and could perhaps balance the costs of the team on the pitch. It may not be necessary to do that much in order to find enough revenue opportunities to sustain the business for seasons to come.

None of this is easy, and every club’s situation is different. But many are so focused on the day-to-day struggles of football, that these wider possibilities are missed. As the commentators like to say, football is a game of two halves, after all.

The Trends that are Redefining the Match Day Experience

The way we consume sports has changed dramatically over recent years. Attending a sports event is no longer only about watching a sporting contest, but increasingly involves the 360° social experience associated with it. With constant access to information, and strong competition for the in-home experience, fans’ demands continue to grow, and event organisers are expected to provide an enhanced live fan experience.

The evolution of the match day experience means that organisers are tasked with creating a more connected, engaging, and interactive environment. Fans are not just simple spectators, and sports facilities need to become highly adaptive entertainment destinations for before, during and after the event to accommodate this.

Modern venues are no longer focusing solely on increasing their tickets sales (for example, the Premier League stadia, tend to sell out long before the event) but increasingly on finding new & innovative ways to drive revenues, getting more sponsors involved, and building stronger relationships with the fans.

The most recent trends that are likely to redefine the game experience will not only open new data and revenue streams for the venues. They will also give them a chance to better understand who their fans are, and how to engage with them efficiently.

1. Increased importance of pre and post-match fan engagement

The match experience no longer starts when fans sit down in their seats, but much earlier. Even before they arrive to the stadium. Attendees are likely to begin their match day with social media activity and pre-game pub meetings. This opens up a great opportunity for venues to become much more than just a place for fans to watch sports, and focus on providing whole-day entertainment.

New, high quality concourses and hospitality lounges encourage early arrival, and increase fan engagement opportunities with the event organisers. Digital in-stadia platforms allow fans to check the latest news at the venue, watch the early kick-off games and get in the mood for their game. More and more clubs opt for their own NFL-like fan zones and encourage them to come to the events earlier, extending the fan experience to an out-of-stadium environment.

West Brom’s first ever fan zone proved successful, as live music, big screen TV, games, and family fun provided a vibrant and entertaining build up to kick-off. The new supporter-dedicated area became a great gathering point for fans of all ages to soak up the match day atmosphere.

Back in 2010, Manchester City launched their new match day feature: BT City Square. The pre-match entertainment area lets fans gather together ahead of the day’s game and soak up the atmosphere. The club has also taken full advantage of that additional commercial opportunity, and agreed a ground-breaking deal with BT Sport to sponsor the fan zone, helping to make it one of the biggest permanent fan zones in the country.

2. Organisers to become content providers

With growing fan demand for live and exclusive info, venues are expected to provide both reliable connectivity and live game content. Second-screening has become so natural to fans that Wi-Fi and in-stadia mobile apps are no longer considered innovations but, increasingly, a necessity. According to Future’s Foundation research, 69% of fans agree that improving the quality of WiFi connectivity within stadia would significantly improve their overall match day experience. Such necessities are a great complement to other interactive technologies, such as FanTV, being implemented in stadiums.

The Trends that are Redefining the Game Day Experience Stadium Connectivity Chart

Live content feeds (including stats and betting odds), news, and club updates allow fans to stay on top of the sporting events, and encourage them to get engaged with their team, club partners and other fans. This leads to a more enjoyable experience for the fans, as well as increased customer loyalty and higher revenues for the venue operators. In fact, 67% of fans expressed their interest in accessing exclusive content before/after the event, and using their mobile to access content displayed on giant screens.

3. Fans to become active participants of the event

Nowadays, the live sport experience is up against stiff competition from broadcasters as TV coverage becomes more widespread and innovative. Venues need to ensure they offer a more immersive experience than watching the game at home, which features instant replays and expert insights.

The fans’ chance to take part in man-of-the-match voting, enjoy real-time reactive screen content (as seen on the LED screen pictured below), or get involved in social media conversations directly from the stadium, brings the best bits of TV viewing, with the bonus of live action, to their match day experience.

Getting to know the fans better has become one of the main priorities of venue operators, as it leads to greater commercial and marketing opportunities. Therefore, understanding consumer data gathered through mobile apps, Wi-Fi connections and social media involvement is vital for tailoring messages and services for all interested parties.

4. Global audience – the stadium is just the start…

Despite the game remaining as the main focus of match day, the way we consume events has shifted towards being constantly connected with those outside of the stadium. Be it the keyboard warrior watching the game at home, or the mates down the road in the pub; fans love to share fan-to-fan content online, e.g. on Twitter, and engage with a wide audience of their family and friends on mobile.

It’s therefore become increasingly important for clubs to develop an effective and engaging social media strategy for those potential customers. Creating a sense of community and improving engagement beyond a local level has proven vital for sustained success.

Manchester United, for example, have created a social media dashboard that incorporates all their social media activity into one page, and is available in 6 different languages. This expands their international fan base – and helps the dedicated fan watching in a bar in Bangkok connect with those in the stadium.

Borussia Dortmund, on the other hand, along with the launch of the WiFi in the stadium, added a match day-mode to its official mobile app, which allows the BVB fans to decide how they want to follow the match. The 3 available options that keep the fans up to date with the most relevant info are:

  1. I am in the stadium
  2. I am following the game live on TV/radio
  3. I am on the road and only need the most important info

This approach uses targeted content to encourage both local and international fans to stay engaged during the whole match day – whether at home or away.

Conclusion: The match day experience of tomorrow

The match day experience is constantly evolving – from standing-only terraces to luxury lounges – and will continue to do so as venues race to improve connectivity and become closer to their attendees.

The way fans support their teams has also changed, as smartphones have become a permanent addition to our lives, making social media activity (arguably) as important as real-life interaction.

Even though expected innovations, like mobile F&B ordering and delivery, instant replays, and beacons, have not become the norm in UK venues yet, new technologies are finding their way into the stadium every day.

And looking outside of the stadium, Virtual Reality technologies could soon become new competitors for venues, as they will be able to provide a stadium-like experience for fans at home.

These could bring both benefits and challenges to sports venue operators, but should ultimately be treated as opportunities to build stronger relationships, bigger fanbases, and increase sponsor value.

5 Ideas & Tactics for Using Data to Increase Fan Engagement

Modern mobile and social technologies have transformed the way fans consume sports and how they interact with their favourite clubs. Teams and rights holders are constantly looking for new methods of getting their supporters connected and adding value to fan experiences.

To achieve that, sports clubs need to better understand what ignites the passion of fans and immerses them in the match experience. Building a strong connection requires showing the supporters that they matter—that the club cares and is listening to them—and will, in turn, deliver on the match day. Clubs can only do that if they truly get to know their fans.

From the clubs’ perspective, fan data has, therefore, become an extremely valuable asset. Only those teams who identify ways to gather, analyse and utilise it are able to grow their fan engagement. To maximise value from the data, it is necessary to keep these 5 crucial points in mind.

1. "Ask" - fan surveys and opinion communities

Getting the right answers, requires that the right questions are asked! Clubs should not be afraid to ask fans for opinions (whether good or bad!) if they want to get to know what motivates them to get involved. Giving the fans a platform to speak with the team is a necessary step to building stronger relationships between the two parties, but it is also crucial to then use and integrate fan feedback and supporter ideas.

While the traditional surveys – where clubs learn about fans, habits, demographics and match day experience – are still proving very insightful, it has become extremely important to focus on fans feedback about club developments – that is where clubs learn what fans think of them.

For example, AS Roma, the Italian football club, as part of the process for getting that valuable fan feedback, used Reddit to get supporters’ opinions. The club has then designed its new website based on ideas submitted by Roma’s most creative fans.

The team’s head of digital, Paul Rogers, who joined Roma from English Premier League club Liverpool, says “We simply said, ‘We want to launch a new website and we want to know what you want and what you don’t want. If you can help us, great. If you can’t or you don’t want to, we get it.’ The response was very positive and actually very helpful. Were we surprised? Not really. If you’re honest with people and treat them with respect, you generally get the same in return.”

2. "Listen" - social media activity

The least direct way of getting to know the fans, is through monitoring and analysing their social media activity. By engaging online, sports rights holders can open new communication channels with their audience that, if done effectively, can increase fan engagement.

Stadia Solutions work with a number of sports sponsors to understand their exposure on social media, and unsurprisingly some of the most engaging content comes from the athletes – not the official channels. Digital communication with the athletes, clubs and brands has become an essential element of sports. However, creating a Facebook or Twitter page, or an Instagram account is just the start of it. Fans will only engage with the clubs through these platforms if they find exciting and unique content there.

The key to making the most of the clubs’ social media activity is in real-time engagement, which allows you to get your message into whatever the fans are already talking about. Social media is a valuable gathering point for immediate feedback from the supporters. Teams need to develop their social media strategies to grow interaction and engagement, traffic flow to official websites and also, the in-stadia experience.

In motor racing, for example, the Formula E Championship has introduced FanBoost, where fans vote for their favourite driver to have a power boost in a race. Alejandro Agag, chief executive of Formula E Holdings, said: “Through social media, fans are having a real impact on the result of a race. It’s no longer 100% about the skill of the driver and performance of the car. It’s also about fans’ input.”

3. "Gather relevant data" - advantages of providing WiFi, mobile apps

New mobile technologies are transforming sports business. While many stadia, like Celtic Park, now offer fast WiFi connections – allowing tens of thousands of fans to engage with the team by tweeting, snapping and posting about their match experience – it is in the rights holders’ interest to encourage fans to not only transmit their own messages but to provide real-time consumer data.

Clubs need to find out exactly who each fan is. By collecting, updating and enriching fan preference, demographic and behavioural data, clubs can begin to better target their marketing efforts towards the fans, and personalise their experience leading to higher engagement. Data captured in ecommerce systems (including ticket sales and merchandise), WiFi databases and mobile apps provides invaluable data that clubs use to strengthen their relationships with the fans.

4. "Analyse the data and use it wisely" - get your facts right

Nowadays, sports teams must not only gather the fan information but also put the numbers in context in order to ensure engagement. By really getting to know the fans, clubs and rights holders can build fan loyalty. Understanding fan culture and personalising the fan experience is the key to converting single game attendees into valuable shirt-wearing season ticket holders.

Teams that add value to fan experience, having learnt from the fans’ habits, command greater income for sponsorships and media rights. For example, a study conducted by Campaign and Rugby World revealed that over 8 in 10 fans (83 per cent) use their smartphone prior to kick off and over half (55 per cent) ‘actively’ second screen whilst watching a game. This presents a great opportunity for both clubs and brands to get engaged with the rugby fans on match day, either via social media or mobile apps.

5. “Get the fans involved” – be creative and make the fans feel a part of the community

Bringing innovative, personalised experiences such as man-of-the-match voting into the fans’ match experience, makes the fans feel part of match day and drives their loyalty. Recently, for example, Manchester City has announced a partnership with a mobile fan engagement technology company Ballr in an attempt to strengthen the club’s relationship with supporters in China, India, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam and Singapore.

The soon-to-be-launched Ballr Football app is based around a free gaming platform that drives fans to compete and communicate with each other during real-time sporting events. Damian Willoughby, Senior Vice-President of Partnerships, City Football Group, said: “Our new partnership with Ballr is an exciting opportunity to engage with Manchester City fans in the digital sphere and to offer them further opportunities to connect with the Club. Manchester City is committed to enhancing the fan experience and bringing supporters together.”

Conclusion

With the growth of online and mobile channels, delivering an engaging and consistent fan experience has never been more challenging. The role of supporter engagement will only increase in the future as the next generation of digitally savvy fans grows in number.

The ultimate goal for all sports clubs is to learn from their fans using the in-depth knowledge of their behaviours gathered in the stadium and via digital activity, and then communicating with them accordingly. By putting fans’ needs and wants first, clubs and venues have a golden opportunity to build long-lasting relationships with their most important customers – the supporters.

Huddersfield Town enjoy the spotlight with Premier League stadium tech

When an English soccer club is promoted into the red-hot competition of the English Premier League, it enjoys great riches, but also some sporting and commercial challenges it may never have faced before.

Huddersfield Town, promoted this season, are a case in point. Back in the top flight for the first time since 1971, the club had to think carefully about how to prepare for their debut in the modern era of the Premier League. As well as figuring out how to compete on the pitch, they also had some tough commercial decisions to make.

With many of the team’s matches now beamed to a huge domestic and international TV audience, the club needed to improve their camera-facing media assets, thereby maximizing the opportunity to harness new revenue from sponsors and advertisers.

"...the club needed to improve their camera-facing media assets to harness new sponsor and advertising revenue..."

Marc Mitchell, Huddersfield Town’s commercial manager, advertising and events, takes up the story. “As we didn’t get promoted until we beat Reading in the Championship play-off final on 29 May, we weren’t able to start making investment decisions until the last minute,” says Mitchell. “We knew we needed to get the stadium ready for the new season, with a new commercial strategy to match, but we didn’t have much time – only two and a half months until our first home game against Newcastle.”

The club needed quick advice and action, so it turned to the stadium technology and marketing specialists Stadia Solutions. The Stadia Solutions team discussed the different options open to the club, knowing that it needed a higher quality LED system to meet the Premier League’s and Uefa’s technical requirements. Huddersfield could rent a system, buy second hand, or invest in new technology of their own.

In the end, they decided to buy their own, going for a solution that fully maximized the business opportunity ahead, while also boosting the engagement of the clubs’ loyal fans and long-standing commercial partners.

Best system in the league

The answer was the acquisition of a Techfront P8 pixel pitchside LED ribbon – the highest definition system currently in use in the Premier League. Stadia Solutions was able to source this state of the art equipment at a highly competitive price, and advised Huddersfield to invest in a mid-tier LED ribbon at the same time – making their John Smith’s Stadium one of only a few in the Premier League to have this technology.

James Cook, commercial director of Stadia Solutions, says the mid-tier ribbon plays a particularly key role, especially for a newly promoted club. “We saw an opportunity for Huddersfield Town to use the mid-tier ribbon with its loyal and local commercial partners,” he says. “Many of these have supported the club for years. The mid-tier ribbon enables the club to continue to secure local commercial partnerships and provide great exposure both at ground level and mid-tier LED.”

Mitchell agrees: “The pitch-side LED can command significant rates within the PL with a lot of the allocation being taken by league / shirt sponsorship deals, which can mean the remaining inventory comes at a high premium. The mid-tier is a fantastic way to provide our strong local partnerships with a great platform for exposure into their target areas.

“Our ‘Huddersfield Hundred’ are an integral part of our club and Commercial strategy and we want to keep them on board – it’s not in the character of this club to cast long-term backers aside just when we get promotion. So, the mid-tier LED made great business sense.”

 

“James and the team gave us the ideal solution for our needs, turned around in super-quick time."

 

Fan-power for home fixtures

And the mid-tier is not just a way for the club to stay close to loyal advertisers. It also builds the club’s bonds with its passionately loyal fans. Fan engagement is increasingly important for all football clubs, and for a team like Huddersfield, it is particularly important at home matches.

 “Home form is key for us – we absolutely need the fans 100 per cent behind us as we aim to secure as many points as we can,” adds Mitchell. “The mid-tier helps us build the atmosphere and get the fans fired up. With good home form so far this season – including our astonishing 2-1 victory over Manchester United – the tactic seems to be working!”

Cook says the same benefits of fan engagement and local advertiser outreach persuaded another newly promoted club, Brighton & Hove Albion, to adopt the same mid-tier approach, combined with pitch side LED for top-level advertisers. Stadia Solutions also worked on the Brighton install and has helped Premier League rivals West Bromwich Albion and the Championship’s Sheffield Wednesday with new stadium technology, both on and off the pitch, for this season.

“James and the team gave us the ideal solution for our needs, turned around in super-quick time.” Marc concludes. “They understood we couldn’t act until we knew we were going up, but once we did, they swung into action and put us in a great position to make the most of our first Premier League season.”

New Digital Billboard Goes Live at Blackburn Rovers

Stadia Solutions, the full-service sports agency, and Elonex, the digital-out-of-home media owner, have collaborated to help Blackburn Rovers increase revenue stream with the launch of a new external digital billboard at the club’s 31,000 capacity Ewood Park ground.

The new digital billboard is dual-sided and features two 4.2m x 2.4m LED screens, which each utilise Elonex P8 High Dynamic Range Technology to broadcast engaging advertising content.

Strategically positioned outside Ewood Park to target high volume traffic travelling to and from Blackburn town centre on the busy A666, the new and permanent Digital Out of Home structure has been live since the start of the new 2017/18 football season carrying advertisements from many local and national brands. 

 

“It will allow the club to generate extra income through the promotion of events, publicising club partnerships and generating third part ad revenue..."

 

James Cook, Commercial Director, Stadia Solutions, said: “This installation is a ‘no-cost’ solution for Blackburn Rovers. It will allow the club to generate extra income through the promotion of events and publicising club partnerships on the road-side screen. The club also earn an income from advertising sales revenue. The screen is now fully operational and the club has regularly used it to promote events and ticket sales to a wider audience.”.

As football clubs across different leagues look for new and innovative ways to drive revenue, utilising the club’s prime location to create advertising opportunities is one solution.”

Big screens can be installed and used by clubs from all leagues and the revenue generated is not dependent on match day attendance figures or even performance on the pitch.

James continued: “We are delighted to be working with Elonex to provide this solution for Blackburn Rovers and we hope it’s the first of many joint projects.”

Greg Coar, Commercial Director, Blackburn Rovers, commented: “The new screen at Ewood Park will help us expand our advertising and sponsorship opportunities. We are delighted to be developing our working relationship with Stadia Solutions and partners, and I’m excited by the opportunities the big screen can bring to our club and potential advertisers. We are looking forward to the new season with optimism about our on-pitch and off-pitch performance.”.

Installations like this provide clubs and advertisers with a new opportunity to generate revenue and to think of new and creative ways to market the club.

Nick Smith, CEO, Elonex added: “This new installation at Ewood Park is an exciting addition to our digital estate and presents huge opportunities for advertisers to effectively reach large audiences in Blackburn. The big screen will be of great benefit to brands of all sizes and further strengthens our reputation for delivering new, innovative and revenue generating solutions in the Digital Out of Home and Sports Advertising marketplace. Using our reputation as a leading innovator in the digital-out-of-home marketplace we hope to attract a wide range of local and national brands to make the most of this exciting new opportunity in Blackburn.”

Huddersfield Town installs state-of-the-art LED system

Stadia Solutions and Techfront, a provider in LED Solutions to sports and entertainment venues, have collaborated to install a new mid-tier and pitchside LED ribbon at Huddersfield Town AFC.

 

“We have been working closely with Stadia Solutions to make the most of the commercial opportunities..."

 

The installation at the club’s John Smith Stadium is being completed in time for their home Premier League debut and will be the most advanced LED system in the Premier League, according to the club.

The new LED fan engagement and advertising systems are being delivered both around the pitchside and middle-tier.

The mid-tier LED ribbon is designed to boost interaction and engagement with fans. At pitchside, Stadia Solutions and Techfront have installed a P8 pixel pitch system, which makes the highest definition system in use in the Premier League.

The new technology will be debuted at the club’s first home game against Newcastle on 20th August – a match that will be broadcast live on Sky Sports.

James Cook, commercial manager, Stadia Solutions, said: “The new state-of-the-art system at the John Smith’s Stadium gives Huddersfield the opportunity to monetise their promotion and at the same time enhance the in-stadia experience for their loyal fans.

“Huddersfield wanted to make a statement off the pitch as well as on it, installing a P8 system and being the first in the league to do it is a mark of club’s drive to achieve something as impressive as last season’s promotion.

“We are thrilled to be part of these exciting changes to Huddersfield at such a special time for the club. This is an important development in ensuring that fans are kept at the heart of the game. We believe that understanding the fan and improving the match-day experience is key to building successful partnerships and maximising revenue.  We made sure that all the possible options in the marketplace had been explored and presented to the club before a decision was made.”

Sean Jarvis, commercial director, Huddersfield Town AFC, said: “This is one of several additional revenue streams we are creating for the club to capitalise on our promotion to Premier League. Advertisers and sponsors will benefit from our drastically increased television audience for the next season.

“We have been working closely with Stadia Solutions to make the most of the commercial opportunities we are now presented as a team in the English Premier League.”

Jonathan Hall, Techfront UK CEO, added: “Our state-of-the-art range of LED systems enable our experienced team to provide customised solutions across all stadiums, venues and environments. Creating a seamless bridge and engagement between clubs, sponsors and fans. We are delighted to have been able to work with Stadia Solutions and Huddersfield Town AFC to help the club lead the way with this technology.”

Making the stadium pay its way

The English Premier League may be one of the richest in the world, but that doesn’t mean professional football in the UK is awash with cash. Stadia Solutions’ James Cook explains how teams can make the most of an often underused asset, the stadium…

Many clubs urgently need to think of how they can drive new sources of revenue, making them less reliant on the unreliable fortunes of league position, relegation and promotion.  

For most teams, and smaller clubs in general, off-pitch income needs to be the larger share of the overall business to balance on-pitch costs. This means looking for income outside of match days.

Our view is that their stadium holds the key to more business opportunities than they think. With teams playing an average of 38 matches a season, half of which will be away games, the home ground may be empty for more than 300 days a year – all days when it could be generating revenue. But with many of the smaller teams focused on the day-to-day business, these wider possibilities are often missed. Clubs should be thinking how they can make their stadium pay – not just on match days, but 365 days a year – a connected stadium.

This requires a new mindset – with clubs thinking of their stadium as a venue, not only for football, but also for other events, including music or corporate. As such, they need to compete with other venues for the business. To do this, they need to make sure they can offer the same facilities and equipment that clients require, including AV technology, connectivity, competitive food and beverage packages and the interior configurations to appeal to a wide variety of event opportunities.

 

“Forward-thinking investment will help to bring the business in"

 

Football clubs have a lot going for them when it comes to attracting business – regardless of their league position. A typical lower-league club with a ground in the middle of a town or city, has a prime location, highly visible in the local community – most likely surrounded by passing traffic and often close to shops and public transport.

No venue in such a prime location should shut its doors and go quiet for weeks and months on end. The ground should be seen as a venue which needs to attract customers and business. To achieve this, it helps to have some attractive inventory and assets to offer.

Forward-thinking investment will help to bring the business in, and some of the investments required – like WIFI, food and beverage and AV – are all things that can be used to enhance the experience for match-day fans and non-sports visitors. Also, many clubs can make the most of their location – in the city centre, or next to a busy road, to offer themselves as an advertising medium. Many clubs are now doing this, using large screens on their exterior for high-impact outdoor advertising.

Whilst there is a need for clubs to work towards a connected stadium we understand that this comes at a cost. Quite often the bulk of budget is allocated to the playing staff. We understand this and as such create solutions that are either self-funding or will offer a very efficient ROI. Offering such solutions that can provide commercial value without a financial outlay for the club is vital.

Nearly all new stadia being built around the country are already factoring this multi-purpose mindset into their plans. Most new projects now include other revenue-generating assets – a hotel, shops, cinemas and restaurants. The modern stadium has become a more rounded venue that has football at its core, but plays a larger role as a focal point in the community, attracting business day after day, throughout the year.

None of this is easy, and every club’s situation is different. But many are so focused on the day-to-day struggles of football, that these wider possibilities are missed. The beauty of this strategy is that it can be disconnected from success or failure on the pitch and become a way to sustain the club through the highs and lows of league football.

How to get into the sports industry: An interview with Anthony Joshua’s previous manager & former Fifa Licensed FA agent, James Cook.

It sounds like dream job territory, but how exactly do you get yourself a career in sport? We sit down with James Cook, A former Fifa and FA Licensed football agent who turned his talents to managing the likes of Anthony Joshua, and is now Stadia Solutions commercial partnerships manager, to get the inside track.

So how did you kick off your career in sport?

I played sport all throughout my time in school, mostly tennis, and I eventually got into golf. Through playing golf, I met a football agent who had his office at the golf club and offered to give me a job. I declined at the time, as I wanted to focus on sport, and ended up going off to uni to gain my law degree. Post degree, golf wasn’t turning out how I planned, so I decided to do a little work for him.

However, I didn’t have the greatest experience as I was basically a glorified PA. There was no salary and I was earning 5% of his 5% which was nothing in reality, and the experience put me off both sport and the industry. A lot of people have asked me about getting into sport, and I usually warn them that you have to pretty much work for free at the start. You can’t really search for a job like an accountant or a lawyer would, that doesn’t exist. You have to build your own network.

As luck would have it I’d met a few football players while playing golf. I ended up playing a few games with one and he suggested a few people I should meet. One of those people was an agent who offered me a job, which I suppose was my first real step into the footballing world.

What did that first job involve?

I worked with the players. Scouted players, got to meet people at the clubs, and looked after clients day to day. I would also attempt to sign players and recruit them. The main aim was to set up meetings and get numbers with the hope you could eventually roll out the big boss and the player signs with you. From that point on I would manage them.

I became established in that role and decided to sit my Football Association (FA) agency exams. Those exams have a very low pass rate, and they were extremely hard, but I managed to pass them and from that point on I was then able to conduct player transfers. I could also work with the clubs and agree transfer fees and contracts.

Do you think your law degree helped with that?

Yes, for sure. Although the FA contracts are pretty standard there’s a lot of paperwork. As well as the various contracts between yourself and the player, depending on how you structure the deal, you can have a separate deal between yourself and the club, the player and the club, dual representation deals and so on. The law degree definitely helped me with that side of things. I think besides NFL and baseball; football deals are the most complicated deals to get done. There’s no set way to do it, so the degree definitely helped me apply various scenarios to deals to get what I wanted for the client.

Where did you go from there?

I spent two years doing that. Initially the job was ok, but I wasn’t particularly enjoying the industry. 

It sounds a lot more glamorous than it actually is, and I wanted to try different sports. I was offered a job with a sports agency that wanted me to go in and set up a football division for them, and I would have the opportunity to work with other sports people. I went in recruiting young players from starter level, and my role evolved to the point where I was then given free rein to work with whichever sportspeople, from whatever industry I wanted to. I was lucky enough to work on a range of commercial deals, and look after talent including the likes of Anthony Joshua and Nicola Adams.

After a while I ended up doing business development across the whole of the business. It’s actually not too dissimilar from what I do now, going out and trying to grow the business and develop partnerships from all aspects.

I then moved to IMG, where I had a really similar role but specifically in golf. I was selling across all of their golf event platforms as well as their global talent. Again it involved a lot of relationship building. From there I went back into football for a short while, before turning my attention, skills and experience to working alongside the clubs with Stadia Solutions.

It’s an interesting pathway, so why did you choose to become a football agent?

I didn’t necessarily choose to do it. I loved sport and I’ve always been involved in it, but I’ve never been a massive football fan. When I was bit younger the lifestyle sounded glamorous, and you can obviously earn quite a bit of money from it, but it’s a pretty cut throat and murky world. I did quite like the fact that I was good at looking after people and making sure that things got done for them, but I also enjoyed negotiating deals. Even now when I’m negotiating an in-stadia media deal I get a little buzz when the deal gets over the line.

So what caused you to jump desks and make the switch from agent to working with the clubs?

I’d been wanting to do it for a while. I had a good understanding of the other side, working with players and the clubs. That side of the industry can also be very up and down; one week can be great but the next month can be awful. There’s a lot of pressure. Quite frankly I’d just had enough of it. So I thought given my experience, and the time I’d spent completing commercial deals with the likes of Marks & Spencers & Hyundai, that I could really bring something to the clubs. Now I feel I can go into clubs and have solid business conversations, whereas before I was almost going into every meeting having an argument.

What would you say where the pros and cons of your previous work, and what’s the biggest lesson you’ve learnt?

The big pro is that you do get to do some exciting and glamorous things. Sometimes you don’t realise when you’re doing it but I have done some really cool things. It’s quite rewarding when you build relationships with clients and they do well. When Anthony Joshua won gold at the Olympics it was probably one of the best feelings I’ve experienced. I also looked after a manager at Plymouth. They were in administration and likely to be relegated when he took over, but he kept them up. That was probably the most satisfactory day I’ve had, standing there with his family when he did that.

The cons can outweigh the pros, that’s why I moved on. There are a lot of unscrupulous people in the business and they can wear you down; interested in the money they earn, not the interests of the person. It’s not a 9 till 5 job; It’s non-stop, and it can take over your life.

The biggest lesson I’ve learnt is never say ‘no’ to a meeting. In sport, and I think in business, you’ve always got to make that effort, because every meeting you go to expands your network. Some meetings where I’ve not expected much have turned out to be some of the best things to happen to me.

For someone just leaving school, what do you suggest to do if you want a career in sport?

If you’re going to go to Uni you need to do a degree that shows you can deal with dates, timeframes and retaining information, so something like law or history. Courses like sports tourism or leisure aren’t necessarily what the job involves, I personally wouldn’t do that. The most important thing to do at Uni is to start building your network. Ask questions, try and have coffee with people and see if they’ll give you their time. There’s very few jobs available these days, and when they do come up its usually who you know, not what you know.

In saying that, the two biggest football agents in the world (Mendes & Raiola) both started out as translators. Raiola used to work for his family pizza restaurant and tried to force his way in at his local club. He speaks 7 languages so he was eventually asked to work on a deal. I even know hairdressers who cut players hair and have ended up looking after them!

It should be said that there is no pre-defined route to working in sport. Building your network and knowledge base are key starting points. But if you can understand your own strengths, address your weaknesses and above all, put in the hard yards, then opportunities will undoubtedly present themselves.

Article by Jack Biss.

Venues Race To Connectivity: 5 key features essential to a sports team app

By 2020 around 70% of the world's population are forecast to own a smartphone. Mobile phones have become so present in our lives that many do not imagine “going offline” at any time. Even for the precious 90 mins during a football match.

Connectivity is especially important to younger fans. According to comScore’s ‘Global Mobile Report 2015’, 91% of UK Millennials own a smartphone. With the changing fan demographics and fluctuating in-venue attendances it is easy to understand why many event organisers have looked to app solutions to enhance the enjoyment of attending fans, and to attract the second-screen viewers at home.

Opportunities

Sports venues have to shift towards better enabling and monetising their digital strategies. High smartphone ownership drives demand for reliable in-stadia WiFi that guarantees instant access to game content and social media.

New technologies are changing fan experiences at sport venues like never before. Mobile apps have huge potential to become a way for clubs and venues to build stronger relationships with the fans, and the same goes for sponsors.

The apps should not be made exclusively for the in-stadia experience. There is potential for them to become the first source of information for fans throughout the week, not only on match day. Mobile apps are a great way to gather information on fans, and to collect all kinds of data about fan behaviour.

Quality over quantity – getting the core functions right

Ultimately, the aim of creating a mobile app is enhancing the game experience, not dominating it. Including too many features, too much sponsored content or trying to squeeze everything into one application would discourage fans from using it again. Venues should therefore focus on getting the core functions right.

The following 5 features that are absolutely essential if you want your app to be effective:

1. BUILDING FAN LOYALTY - Team information and news

The app should become the primary source for club related updates. Providing fans with exclusive news, live results, fixtures, league table, etc. is essential to building a strong relationship with them, and increasing downloads. Live in game stats, provided by the likes of Opta, encourage use of the app in-game.

2. INCREASING FAN ENGAGEMENT - Exclusive content

Fans who experience sporting events through television coverage are privileged with unobstructed views, zooming options and commentary analysis. Therefore, allowing all fans to access exclusive photos, highlights, interviews and instant replays whilst in the stadium can increase fan engagement and encourage visits to the venue. Behind the scenes content displaying the match day routine has also proved popular with fans.

3. DRIVING SALES – Tickets, Merchandise and F&B

In-app kiosks are an easy and efficient way to encourage fans to make purchases with just a few clicks. Levi's Stadium, for example, gained an astonishing $1.25m in revenue from food, beverage, merchandise and parking in the first season since introducing the app.

4. BOOSTING SPONSOR REVENUES – Sponsored Content

In-app sponsored features, such as a betting centre, directly drives traffic to partners. Providing opportunities for fans to contribute content in exchange for rewards increases fan engagement and sponsor awareness. Though it may not always directly generate revenue, if properly executed, it is a great opportunity to add value for sponsors.

5. ENCOURAGING FANS TO SHARE THE EXPERIENCE – Social Media

Making it easy for fans to share content on social media is a must that can prove very beneficial for rights holders and sponsors in today’s world. Not only does social media provide multiple sponsorship opportunities, but it creates a global audience for the club. Personalised hashtags, built-in photo filters, etc. are all ideas that can help fans share their unique game experience with their friends.

Building and delivering great mobile experiences has already become the beating heart of the sports industry’s fan engagement strategy. Making an easy-to-use, intuitive app that provides a complex system of functions is certainly a challenge, but getting the core features right is key to making fans happy and engaged.

Whilst you’ll be hard pressed to find a team without such an app across the Atlantic, the concept is less proven in our own back yard. European teams are only now starting to adopt the idea of a “Smarter Venue”.

Our own CelticLIVE solution is proof that demand for such a product exists. Celtic FC has utilised the match-day app and HD WiFi solution to morph Celtic Park into a Smarter Venue. Combined with 60+ FanTV screens, in-stadia posters and social media, CelticLIVE continues to be a hit with fans, partners & sponsors alike. However, In order to keep up with fan demands teams need to remain innovative. The addition of live odds & a betting centre to CelticLIVE has certainly proved worthwhile, but with more and more teams realising the benefits of the “smarter venue” solution we all need to keep our eye on the ball.