G Srinivvasan, Head of Sporjo, a platform launched to help build careers in the Indian sports industry, writes about the potential of sport as a tool for new-age marketers, in the context of its evolution from a simple “game” to a “sophisticated fan-driven event applied to data.” For much of his career he has held sports marketing positions with organizations like Reliance Sports, Indian Super League, Indian Premier League and Nike.
At the turn of the century, the world breathed a sigh of relief at the fear of the year 2000. Tiger Woods won his first US Open and Pete Sampras his seventh Wimbledon – a record at the time – while at the Olympics found their way back to Australia for only the second time. And elsewhere, India was emerging as a cricket superpower.
Over the next 20 years, the sports marketing genre has undergone a vast shift marked by the evolution of media, digital platforms, technology and data capture, all of which have had a significant impact on the market. sport. The impact of this has been for the entire ecosystem – on product, packaging, delivery options, fan engagement, games, connected stadiums, data and analytics – but, more importantly, marketing to the end consumer.
Evolution of the sports media plan beyond the 30-second ad
There was a time when a marketer’s job ended the moment an ad appeared on TV or printed in the newspaper. In today’s scenario, a marketer’s job has become much more real-time and involves closely monitoring the data that helps break down and analyze a brand’s relationship with their fan or consumer. It is a relationship that must be continuous.
Sports Marketing has gone from 30 second commercials, full page ads, radio spots or outdoor advertising to understanding the philosophy of fan culture, to creating influencer communication through athletes , the use of key information and innovative creative collaborations.
The transition from audience to engagement
One of the most significant changes in sports marketing over the years has been the shift in focus from audience to engagement.
In India, broadcasting still has a large audience, and the price of rights bears witness to this. Marketers continue to look at the traditional audience data they get from a live broadcast as India is still more of an advertiser and not a subscription market. This data always determines the marketing budgets in the world of sport. However, as digital platforms improve and their ability to capture click-level data becomes more sophisticated, marketers should adjust their strategies accordingly.
Data: the new oil of sports marketing
Fixed-duration television ads are slowly evolving into multiple-duration content pieces across various platforms. Every like, comment or visit to the site is closely monitored. The data of these actions is then collected to develop the sports marketing strategy in real time.
Technology, for example, can now track the number of seconds that a brand logo placed on the sidelines of a football or basketball game appears on television. This level of minuscule data allows both the brand to monetize every dollar spent on marketing and a league or team to present, in very concrete terms, the value that an association brings.
Biggest evolution: the birth of the data-savvy new age fan
Sports marketers also follow the journey of a consumer who goes from being a simple follower, to being a fan, to being a die-hard fan. For example, a Kerala Blasters fan of Indian Super League will only watch a few matches, a fan will see almost every match and attend a few in the stadium, and a keen fan will know all about every match, will visit the stadium for most games own merchandise and make the team a part of their life. All three will be extremely active on social media, to varying degrees.
The point at which a consumer is in the process of building a relationship with a sports brand determines the strategy to be applied to market it effectively.
Marketing guru Philip Kotler defined the “sports fan” journey. Here, a consumer goes from indifferent to watching sports, then buying tickets, collecting merchandise, attaching their identity to the sports entity, becoming an insider, and then becoming trapped in their passion for the sport. ‘entity. This is clearly seen with the Mumbai Indians or Chennai Super King teams in the IPL, where fans have gone from following key players to becoming avid fans of the franchise in just 13 years. So the potential to tap into the millions of fans in India is limitless for any IPL team.
Understand the various platforms and formats
While a lot of things in the ecosystem have changed, marketers and media planners need to remember that the fundamentals haven’t changed.
Any marketing plan still needs to answer and define metrics (at the platform level) based on three key questions:
- What is the aim of the campaign?
- What is the key message of the campaign?
- What is the desired response from the campaign?
Additionally, sports marketing has the added benefit of having multiple avenues and platforms that a brand can associate with.
A brand can choose to associate with a team, an athlete, a league, an event or a federation. The chosen entity would be based on the parameters determined in the three questions above.
Sponsorship contracts are changing
The diversification of media platforms available and the hyper-targeting possible with social media tools have given brand marketers a huge choice of options.
He also evolved sponsorship contracts, making them more profitable and efficient. A brand can choose between running a one-year national campaign with an Athlete Ambassador or asking the athlete to share a few promotional posts on their social media platforms.
Sports marketing has evolved and become more sophisticated, and it’s up to brand owners to determine the extent of their involvement.
G Srinivvasan is the CEO of Sporjo, a new-age platform to help build careers in the Indian sports industry.