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Reaching the Relevance Goal Through Sports and the Second Screen

7-14-2014 2-34-34 PMMoments after Germany scored its fourth goal in six minutes, I reached for my smart phone. I wanted to share that jaw-dropping World Cup experience with someone, and simply having the option to do so seemed to make the event more relevant to me.

Four years ago, during the 2010 World Cup, it is unlikely I texted anyone. But the penetration of smartphones into nearly every aspect of our lives has changed that. In enabling us to connect with others immediately, the technology has elevated the engagement potential of so many otherwise solo activities.

I wonder how long before this mobile behavior hatches yet another handheld cottage industry, one in which marketers smartly use their data to connect with the sports fan in the moment?

The folks at Google wondered the same thing. In an effort to document how sports lovers use their mobile devices during big games, the writers at Think With Google watched games with soccer and football fans in Chicago and Denver. In the process, Google deducted how brands can produce more relevant marketing during the match.

“What’s clear is that fans are not only searching more on mobile, but they’re also searching during the game: a new pattern of behavior that barely existed four years ago, when most of the search activity happened immediately after the final whistle,” the article states. “This change creates more moments for marketers to reach fans on the mobile web, right when they’re most engaged.”

A few years ago, in my book “The Loyalty Leap,” I referred to this opportunity as the door to cultural relevance. It opens to any ongoing activities that regularly group people together – physically or now remotely. Today, that includes sports viewership.

The significance of this opportunity is spelled out in Google’s quote, “right when they’re most engaged.” Relevance requires timing. It proves the organization understands who its customers are and what they care about – right at the moment of caring.

For sports devotees, the intensity of that devotion peaks at game time. The Google report details how, in every living room the writers visited, fans talked about using their mobile phones to connect with other fans. Often it is to stay connected with family members, to seek validation or simply to be the first to share something cool or clever – a method of raising personal credibility.

One fan wished for a social network strictly for sports fans, because he couldn’t curse on Facebook without his mother seeing it.

So what’ll it be, wise marketers? A profanity-sanctioned fan network, or possibly a gamification app that rewards members for texting about a particular team? The opportunities exist across many industries, but the points will only go to those that can deliver in a timely, relevant manner.

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