October 03, 2010

Unless you've been pulling a "Sleeping Beauty," welcome to the digital revolution. You have only to dig so deep on MediaPost and other marketing websites to know that the media landscape has evolved and changes every day. The most dramatic change is in sports. While online distribution, low barriers to entry and affordable production have opened doors for nearly all brands to jump into the digital media pool, a big part of what makes the digital landscape so effective is the ability to direct your messaging in a dynamic manner to the right target audience. This takes complete knowledge of your audience and, in sports, it is essential for your success.

While the thought of entering the digital marketing game is exciting, it can also be daunting, especially if you decide to go it alone. So, although every campaign and brand is unique, here are four essential requirements to any relevant and lasting digital campaign in sports.

Buying and Planning

When looking at publishers or digital distribution channels in general, it's not just about the reach; it's about reaching your audience. Do your homework; look for agencies, networks, third-party servers that provide you with an edge to understanding the sports landscape. Be prepared to evolve with design, technology and distribution. More importantly, remember that the nature of buying and planning is essentially about efficiency, given the nature of supply in this space; you have the ability to control your message and your delivery. Knowing who your audience is and how to reach it through efficient buying will make or break any campaign.

Branded Content

Whether a company considers delivering short-form videos, pre/post-roll enhancements or a web series, the creative development and production process must be guided by the goals of the brand and how it engages with the sports consumer. Thinking about content in this way will help determine whether your branded content meets your requirements and if it will stand the test of time and adapt to the revolution. Again, experts in sports have a better eye on the type of content that will thrive.

Social Media

Don't think of your digital campaign as you necessarily would your broadcast campaign. For starters, the most successful digital strategies are usually based on effective two-way communication among people and groups that like the same thing. Influencers of sports in this space change the conversation. Additionally, social media is the personification of the revolution, just as you adapt your conversational style with friends over time, you can do that with your brand message in social media. The majority of this communication or conversation stems from how you engage, the authenticity of the message and the use of the proper platforms. This is critical to increasing familiarity with your consumer and strengthening that bond. Experts that understand the sports platform will help to connect with the sports tribe faster.

Measurement

So, you took the leap, your creative is amazing and the buzz you're making with your campaign is palpable. But, how do you measure success? With so many metrics and statistics available for online campaigns, the best advice is to determine how you want to measure your success by examining a combination of qualitative and quantitative factors. This measurement is something we call your "Brand Engagement Index" (BEI). This measurement system works only when it is specific to the client, the brand and the product or service. The BEI helps determine whether your branded content will stand the test of time, and how it will adapt to the ever-changing distribution landscape.

With broadcast media rights in sports at all-time highs, evolving technology and savvy brands have a lower barrier of entrance to utilize the world's greatest communication device -- sports. The time is ripe for brands to authentically engage in the exploding sports digital landscape. At the same time, you don't want to be in digital just to say you're in digital. It's better to be prepared, map out your integrated strategy and then attack with a plan.

By Jim Spinello
Jim Spinello is the Senior VP, Digital Services and Youth Culture, at rEvolution. With more than 18 years of marketing and strategic planning experience, Spinello is an architect and facilitator of innovative digital and experiential peer-to-peer strategies. During his career, Spinello has produced more than 500 pieces of broadcast, digital and webisodic content and built integrated, multi-media consumer websites/microsites for clients.
Courtesy of MediaPost

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