Wednesday, February 15, 2012

GAGA Sports & Entertainment--Smarter Data + Targeted Fan Engagement Equals Revenue

With social media the dynamic of fan engagement has changed. It takes much more than the tired concept of put a winning team on the field and the fans will come. Sure, winning still is a piece of the equation, but today it takes more. And, teams know this.

They talk directly to their fans through Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, streaming video, etc. But, how do they develop their messages and the content they are sharing? Does their messaging fit their audiences? How are teams measuring what works, what doesn’t? And, what do they know about their fans?
Sports teams aren’t the only ones who struggle with these questions.

Jamie Pardi, CEO & Co-Founder of GAGA Sports & Entertainment, has been working in this this space for quite some time. In 2004, Jamie was one of the first to develop a hosted technology platform for professional sports teams, providing a global scalable infrastructure for increased data acquisition, fan engagement, and incremental sponsorship opportunities.
Today, he takes it to another level. Partnering with Patricia Roller, former frogdesign owner and Co-CEO, they have developed a new solution: the GAGA Social CRM Platform™ and Influencer Tool™. These tools not only help companies understand their fans, but also helps them in providing the right messages and content towards monetization.

The Social CRM Platform™ gathers information including a fan’s demographics, interests, and behaviors. This information helps drive the right content to the individual fans and helps teams generate leads.

The Influencer Tool™ allows teams to dig deeper, analyzing how fans share data (frequency, and their network). Most social sharing analytics only show who is clicking and sharing, while GAGA’s tool shows multiple levels of sharing. This allows teams to create campaigns not only around that first fan, but encourages them to share for more rewards.
When you put something out into the social media space, typically you can only measure readership or engagement by who is commenting, what links they are using to get to your page, what referring links, how many people are visiting your page, what specific content they are reading, maybe even what country or region of the country they are from. That’s about it—you don’t always know who exactly is reading or what is resonating with them. These tools help in understanding the fan, what content they want, how to market or sell to them, and how to truly engage.

Recently, I sat down with Jamie, who is considered by his peers as a thought leader in sports media, to learn more.
PJ: How did you recognize there was a need for better engagement and take it to the next step of developing this technology?

Jamie: I was working with some of the largest brands in the world of sports. I thought there was a disconnect between the fans and their teams, between alumni and their schools. It’s been documented that more than 93% of sports fans will never step into the arena of their favorite teams, yet they stay passionate about their teams.

It is tough to get qualified leads for ticket sales opportunities and leads for alumni donations. With social media teams don’t own the data and so we need to make them smarter about what to do with their data. There is a big need to make teams more profitable and efficient with the data.
Teams need to engage their fans. They are not leveraging their assets—using access and content to bring more people in the fold and “humanizing” it. We realized we could build more revenues for sports teams.

PJ: Let’s get back to that stat—I can’t believe that more than 93% of sports fans don’t step into the stadium.

Jamie: Take the 49ers. They have around 500,000 in attendance for one season. Most of those fans are repeat visitors—season ticket holders. So, safely around 200,000 might be unique, one-time visitors. The overall fan base of an NFL team is 8 to 10 million, depending on the market. So, there is a large group of people who never see their team play in person.

Another example is the LA Lakers. They have 19,000 seats per game and they have more than 19,000 fans—they have 15 million fans. So, again, most of their fans aren’t attending games, yet remain passionate and loyal to their favorite team.

PJ: Recently you worked with the Oakland Raiders on a project. Tell me about the project and how you measured your success.
Jamie: After providing the Raiders with three concepts, they liked the “Bring a friend to a Raiders game” campaign. We had 9 winners or 18 people in a suite. In just under four weeks we had 27,000 fans in our database, which broke both NFL and Raiders records. This was a function of technology and a digital strategy. Now we are building a strategy going forward to understand their fans better.

Part of our measure was getting leads. We found 15,000 people were interested in purchasing tickets. The measure of success for us is based on revenue, not on building a brand. For us, it’s all transactional.
PJ: You launched a little more than two years ago. Who is on your current roster of clients?
Jamie: Los Angeles Clippers, Stanford University, University of San Francisco, Oakland Raiders, Houston Dynamo, and Los Angeles Lakers.

Sports teams are slow to adopt new technology and don’t want to be the first one. Although, as you know, once you are in the club, you are in the club and providing meaningful case studies accelerates the sales cycle.
The Los Angeles Lakers were our first client.

The goal was to increase the waiting list for season tickets. They had 800 people on the waiting list and this increased to 50,000. They are in good shape now. It is a long-term strategy. We are moving to a new platform this spring that will help us grow the population.

PJ: Do you have a project that has been more challenging than others?
Jamie: For every customer I’ve felt good at their launch. None of them were challenging. It is so fun to build databases and communities to increase revenue. It’s fun and I can’t believe I get a paycheck every two weeks for this. It’s very cool what we do and the value we provide to our customers.

PJ: What makes your product and technology unique?
Jamie: Our understanding of sports media, marketing, and the stakeholders in the space. We are more of a technology and product company based in Silicon Valley. No one else has the technology expertise and experience that can do this. Our product was built by the former Yahoo! Fantasy Sports engineers. They get data, product, and usability we are bringing a high level world class product to the industry.

The analytical on the back identifies influencers, trends, demographics, and which content people are interested in…and gives detailed reports.
PJ: What’s next?
Jamie: We have great products coming out over the next three months to help shape the college landscape and ties into ticket sales and donations. It’s a smarter, analytical donation tool with personalization components. And, we will be hiring more sales and marketing folks, too.

For more information on GAGA Sports & Entertainment, check out their website