SBJ/Nov. 11-17, 2013/Colleges

Phizzle hits campus through arrangement with Learfield Sports

A San Francisco-based mobile marketing company with several pro clients is moving into the college space.
Phizzle, which runs text message and in-venue video board programs for a handful of NBA and NHL teams, has arranged with Learfield Sports to work with its 50 schools on a variety of fan engagement campaigns. Learfield owns the multimedia rights to schools such as Alabama, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Penn State and Stanford.

Through the agreement, Phizzle will become a Preferred Solutions Provider, a program Learfield started in April as a way to recommend certain companies and their products to the schools. It is intended to cut through the clutter for schools that might be seeking a technology partner but don’t have the expertise to select one.

“A PSP deal provides discounted pricing for our school partners,” said Joe Ferreira, Learfield’s chief content officer. “Essentially, we’re vetting companies for our school partners and bringing the best of the best to them.”

Phizzle’s agreement with Learfield is not exclusive. Learfield schools can continue with other technology partners if they already have a relationship.

But in many cases, Phizzle will be bringing unique products that will help Learfield’s schools engage with its fans.

Phizzle’s mobile marketing includes text-to-win, polling and trivia campaigns, all of which can be promoted and tracked on a school’s in-venue video board during football and basketball games or through the official website.

These types of campaigns can cost anywhere in the five figures up to six figures, depending on its complexity.

Learfield makes Phizzle a PSP member at no cost. Then Phizzle makes its services available to Learfield schools at a discount.

Part of Phizzle’s attraction, Ferreira said, was the firm’s ability to create individual fan profiles from their activity on social networks, mobile and online programs. From that data, schools can create loyalty programs to reward fans for their activity on social media or other mediums.

“Over the last couple of years, as a way to enhance our value, we have figured out how to expand our data capture and management,” Phizzle CEO Ben Davis said. “As fans are engaging with their team, the school can take all of that information and better understand their fans.”

Learfield, which recently sold a majority stake to Providence Equity Partners, is moving forward like business as usual, Ferreira said.

Learfield’s first two PSP partners were Think Social, a firm that runs Facebook promotions, and LiveU, which provides a platform for live streaming of games and ancillary events. The three PSP partners provide Learfield’s schools with the ability to reach their fans through a variety of ways, and each of them has an advertising or sponsorship component.

This also comes at a time when Learfield has brought on a national sales executive who will focus strictly on digital platforms. Branden Miller, formerly the general manager of Learfield’s Missouri Valley Conference property, will focus on digital out of Learfield’s Chicago office with Roy Seinfeld, Learfield’s executive vice president of national sales.

“The next big business we’re looking into is the entire digital platform,” including official athletic websites, Ferreira said, as well as stadium connectivity with its client schools.

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