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Olympics, NFL highlight importance of mobile for sports teams
Over the past week mobile consumers have engaged with their favorite athletes and sports through a variety of platforms - television, online and mobile. This past weekend the National Football League's opener - the Hall of Fame Game - hit in the US and saw even more sports fans engaging through mobile and online devices.
Kristina: How important is the mobile/app space becoming for sports brands?
Nathan Kerry, Senior Vice President of Global Client Management & Channels, July Systems: Mobile is indispensible for sports brands, especially to augment linear and digital channels, as consumers now expect ubiquitous access to news, scores, and content. Sports brands have traditionally been early adopters of disruptive technologies tasked with meeting the 24-7 insatiable demand of sports fans. It's about enabling consumers to connect in real-time with the brands they are passionate about - creating an ongoing dialogue, engaging with fellow sports fans, building loyalty, and personalizing experiences, with access to stats and video being the primary drivers.
Kristina: Can these apps be made 'interchangeable' so that the same app is used for smartphones and tablets? Or do brands need to address the different screen sizes when creating apps?
Nathan: Technically, yes, but it's not about the technology - it's about the brand, their business objectives, and the needs of the consumer in the context of the sport or event. Developing platform specific solutions has been the legacy approach, given that it has been the best way to maximize the "richness" of the experience on a particular platform. It does, however, introduce the challenge of managing disparate products across many platforms. There is a definitive movement in the market to simplify the mobile enterprise by minimizing change management, TCO, and enterprise complexity; with the goal of streamlining time to market for new innovations. Brands are comparing their portfolios of mobile offerings to the ever-changing needs of their consumers to determine where trade-offs can be made. The rise of ubiquitous strategies such as responsive design and HTML5 are well aligned with the wave of smartphone adoption, and provide "reach" over multiple platforms, though these 'one-size-fits-all' strategies do come at some cost today. Brands must make the decision to build to a platform based on multiple criteria including commercial factors, sponsors, advertisers, consumer needs, ongoing change management, and ROI.
Kristina: What are your top 3 tips for social media use by sports brands? What about mobile strategies - can sports brands do a better job of integrating social with mobile? How?
Nathan: Social should be integrated, measured, and defined. It's not about dropping Facebook and Twitter into the app and checking the box. Social elements must always be leveraged with the goal of improving the consumer experience at the forefront. 1. Social must be contextual. 2. Social must be integrated upfront into the consumer experience - at point of concept - and not after the fact. 3. Social experiences should be implemented in an agile fashion to allow them to evolve over time - social is a process not an event.
Kristina: March Madness, the MLB All-Star Game, the Super Bowl...these are days when even websites sometimes have issues with the number of people logging on. What can brands do in the mobile space to get consumers the information they want in a timely manner?
Nathan: It starts with the fundamentals. Properly size and invest in your infrastructure and supporting elements to the anticipated audience forecast. Select the right partner and hosting model such as cloud. Architect the solution to be light weight. Perform simulation testing and monitor the service live. Have a fall back strategy. Ensure multiple access points to your content and brand through mobile web and apps.
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