While TicketManager and LAFC made history last month with a first-of-its-kind partnership establishing TicketManager as the MLS club’s official corporate ticket management partner, the agreement is just one in a recent string of deals that signal how sports teams and events are stepping up their data, analytics and technology games.
In the all-important area of consumer insights—where sports franchises have lagged other marketers—the Philadelphia Eagles and the Minnesota Timberwolves and Lynx signed deals with Kraft Analytics Group to strengthen their ability to understand, communicate with and monetize their fan bases.
Among the most promising elements of the Eagles’ engagement with KAGR is the goal of sharing fan insights with the team’s corporate partners. Even as rights holders have done a better job of collecting audience data and using it for their own purposes, the ability to connect the dots for sponsors has remained sorely lacking.
Forward-looking execs like Eagles senior vice president of revenue and strategy—and TicketManager All Access Interview Series podcast guest—Catherine Carlson plan to change that. As she told Sports Business Journal regarding the KAGR deal, “Fan segmentation really allows us to tell a story when we’re out there with partners. We know who all our fans are, but we’ve had kind of a blurry picture of them until now.”
Among the use cases cited in the article: “The Eagles and KAGR will be able to tell pouring rights holders at Lincoln Financial Field what kind of customers are buying beer and soda by cross-referencing card purchases with other databases, and whether purchasing patterns are changing over the course of a season. Another example: They will also be able to narrowly target Eagles fans who are also active players of the Madden video game franchise.”
The Eagles also will use KAGR’s lifetime customer value tool. As SBJ points out, while all NFL teams have access to the company’s ticketing data tools through its league-level relationship, the Eagles are the first NFL team outside of the Patriots to forge a wider ranging services agreement.
On the tech side, last week saw two announcements concerning digital venues.
The Los Angeles Rams debuted the Virtual Rams House built by 6Connex, which describes itself as a provider of event technology platforms. The following day, the organizers of the Paris 2024 Olympic Games launched a “digital venue twin” recreation of Olympic and Paralympic sports venues and surrounding areas created by event planning software One Plan.
Featuring chat communities, discussion boards and more, the Virtual Rams House will serve as a year-round online gathering place for everyone in the Rams ecosystem, including fans and sponsors. Rams season-ticket holders will be able to connect with other ticket owners in their seating section.
The first event scheduled is an End of the Season Summit featuring team executives recapping the run to the Super Bowl, discussing offseason plans and expectations for next season. Yet to be seen is how the team’s corporate partners will take advantage of the new platform for activation and engagement with consumers.
One element that might entice both sponsors and fans to participate in new opportunities such the Virtual Rams House is of course, the user experience. Evolving into a more immersive environment such as the one envisioned by Paris 2024 could be the key to attracting significant engagement.
Although intended to help Games organizers with operations and logistics including transportation and broadcasting, the Paris 2024 digital venue recreations could also be an example of the next generation of virtual gathering spots, the metaverse notwithstanding, with an emphasis on hyper realism so that online visitors “can feel like they are actually in the venues, walking the routes, hearing and seeing the environment as it will be during the Games”—as described by One Plan founder and chief executive Paul Foster.
Taken together, the combination of better access to fan insights and appealing online environments for content and community interaction represent a leveling up of partnership assets and inventory that could form the foundation of robust brand partnerships across sports and entertainment.