How New Audiences Are Shaking Up Sports and Entertainment Marketing
As Chief Content Officer, Chad Johnson is responsible for bringing together all company-wide content assets for the NFL team and associated properties such as All-Elite Wrestling and Daily’s Place amphitheater–including Jaguars and non-Jaguars events, booking and production of shows and creative.
His role was expanded in 2018, adding to his title of Senior Vice President of Sales and Service, where he continues to oversee sales and revenues in all ticketing areas—including suites, premium seating, season tickets, and group and single game tickets—as well as the team’s ticket service and operations departments and the fan experience group.
In his All Access Interview Series conversation with host Jim Andrews, Chad examined the role of second-screen fans and how to properly communicate and sell to them, as well as some of the differences in marketing sports versus entertainment properties. Below are edited highlights of the conversation.
Jim: Clearly one of developments of 2020 for everyone in sports and entertainment was a rise in the importance of digital content and digital experiences during a time when live events were non-existent or were seriously restricted. You mentioned the pretty significant difference between the audience that is consuming and interacting with your digital content versus your ticket buyers. Can you tell us what you have learned about those audience differences?
Chad: We are in our 26th season, so the Jaguars are going through their first-generation switch of fans. The fans that have been coming for the past 25 years are starting to fade through and back out of their season tickets, and their children are becoming our season ticket holders. That really started us on the path of doing more with digital and social, and of course COVID accelerated that.
We launched a second-screen experience called Jags at Home in 2020 and you can see a clear difference, with the average age of our Jaguars ticket buyers at 53 and the average for the Jags at Home users is 43. Ten years is a significant age gap. Even more importantly, among those digital users, we see much more time spent and more engagement among the younger segment than the older group who is also consuming that content. Knowing that, we have to take action on how to convert those digital audiences into ticket buyers.
Jim: Now that you have that insight, what does that audience bifurcation mean for your marketing and sales efforts? It would appear to require a change in the way you reach out to these groups with different demographics and different behaviors, so how do you make that change?
Chad: In addition to investing in people who can look at these different segments in our databases and understand who they are demographically and understand how they behave differently, we have invested in software to try to create a marketing automation experience in the ticketing world.
Sports is a little bit behind in the buying experience for customers, compared to Netflix and Amazon and other industries. Right now if you and I logged in to Jaguars.com to search for tickets, we would have the exact same experience. What we are working on is changing that to something similar to a Netflix model, where the information presented to you is very different than what is fed to me. If we can’t have a seamless and personalized experience for someone who comes to us, we are going to have a lower rate of success at converting them into a buyer.
And that is based on data. We are now fully cashless and offer a mobile payment solution, which allows us to look at what the users of that solution look like and behave like. With that type of information we can tailor things like menu board ordering processes with customized upsells, etc.
Jim: I’d like to move from the digital and data world and back to the event realm because you have a relatively unique situation at your facility operating not only an NFL stadium, but also an open-air amphitheater that’s connected to it. Can you discuss some of the different challenges—and opportunities—in marketing and operating a sports vs. an entertainment venue?
Chad: When we launched the music business with Daily’s Place, as well as having stadium concerts at TIAA Bank Field, I thought there would be a significantly higher crossover audience with the Jaguars. Now, with three years of concert data to analyze, only 10 percent of those who have purchased a concert ticket have purchased a Jaguars ticket. I thought that number would be well north of 50 percent.
That’s an opportunity to convert them. We know they are buyers of live entertainment; they are comfortable with getting here (the amphitheater is attached to the stadium). Some of the digital and social efforts we were talking about can fit into that. Maybe it’s working with our players to talk about the music they like and showing the music fans the crossover there. Maybe it’s a free food-and-beverage offer based on what we know they purchased at the concert.
Jim: I would imagine that also creates an opportunity to diversify your corporate partner base to brands that would be interested in the new audiences you are attracting.
Chad: It certainly does, especially with some of the lifestyle categories that have a greater connection to music and festival-like experiences. Those are not traditionally NFL partners. And it also creates opportunities for existing sponsors, such as our beverage partners.
Overall, we want to be a diverse business, which is critical in a small market like Jacksonville. Not only does it create a new revenue stream that helps to offset the
financial challenges of being in a small market, but it also opens the door to new fans so that we can keep the Jaguars a thriving NFL team.