SBJ/November 5-11, 2012/Media

SapientNitro, NASCAR offer to sell digital platform to others in sports and entertainment

NASCAR and the agency developing its new website, SapientNitro, have partnered to sell the digital platform they’ve developed to other sports and entertainment organizations.

SapientNitro, a massive independent advertising and marketing agency with more than $1 billion in annual revenue, will lead the sales effort. It will share a portion of revenue with NASCAR.

The agency hopes to sell the digital platform it developed for NASCAR, which it is calling a “fan engagement platform,” to organizations ranging from college conferences to small sports leagues to musicians.

The platform could save other leagues, teams and organizations months developing a new digital offering and some labor costs associated with that process. It will allow a sports organization to quickly publish content, syndicate it across Web, mobile and tablet devices, and provide a social community where casual and avid fans can interact.

Unlike MLB Advanced Media, which provided back-end digital services for other sports organizations, NASCAR won’t have a role in managing clients that use the fan engagement platform with others. SapientNitro will service the clients and manage their digital operations.

“What the platform brings is that personalization and that social media integration and a design around fan engagement,” said Marc Jenkins, NASCAR vice president of digital media. “The hope is to be able to lower the cost of sports and entertainment properties in managing their own digital rights and simplify the process, as well. It’s a toolbox they can use.”

SapientNitro hopes to land three to six clients for the fan engagement platform within the next year. It struck a similar partnership with Citi around its “Bridge track” platform, an advertising and consumer management platform, and it now has more than 20 clients using the platform.

“It starts out as an opportunity for a known client,” said Scott Petry, a vice president with SapientNitro. “Both the client and SapientNitro have the idea that we’ll do it as a partnership and create something that’s reusable, and then we’ll go market and sell it.”

Leagues, conferences and other outlets that sign up to use the “fan engagement platform” developed for NASCAR’s site would be able to personalize their site to reflect their own sport’s interest, but the back-of-the-house elements from the way video is posted to the way social media is managed would be similar. Users also would be able to customize their sites for avid and casual users in the same way NASCAR says it will do for its new iteration of nascar.com.

“I wish it had been available in September [2011],” Jenkins said. “We would have saved four or five months of development.”

SapientNitro also works with The Football League in England and Ganassi Racing. Its corporate clients range from Audi and Coca-Cola to Target and Unilever.
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