Less than a year after debuting a new, graphics-rich website that veers sharply from industry norms, NASCAR this winter will revamp portions of it to boost engagement.
|Changes will make content easier to get to for NASCAR.com users.
“We have a great amount of tremendous content, but we need to make it more naturally accessible,” said Marc Jenkins, NASCAR vice president of digital media.
NASCAR last year reacquired its digital rights from former partner Turner Sports, and since then has been on an aggressive course to introduce the new site and roll out a suite of smartphone and tablet applications.
Raw traffic figures, however, have shown somewhat mixed results. Internal cross-platform metrics show its average monthly unique visitors rose 11 percent, from 6.5 million last year to 7.2 million this year; more than 2.4 million mobile applications were downloaded; and fantasy racing participation rose 52 percent, to 259,000 players. Engagement on days of Sprint Cup races rose 24 percent between February and September and then increased 35 percent between September and December, when the Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship took place.
Differences between internal and external traffic data are common, as comScore in part uses panel-based sampling methodologies, and internal traffic is typically based on data taken directly from servers.
Year-to-year data from comScore showed that desktop-based traffic fell 23 percent, from an average of 3.1 million monthly unique users during Turner Sports’ operation tenure to 2.4 million thus far this year.
NASCAR executives said the desktop-based traffic data from comScore doesn’t take into account surging mobile traffic, which now accounts for 44 percent of NASCAR’s total digital audience.
“We’ve seen significant movement from PC to mobile,” Jenkins said. “The trend was steady over the season. A lot of our digital consumption is happening on the mobile-optimized site and the tablet-optimized sites … and the mobile apps.”
Jenkins said the key in the second year of the site will be providing more differentiated products for fans. He pointed to a page called “Weekend Schedule,” which was created this year, as an example of that. The page lists everything from practice times to news conferences between Friday and Sunday, and Jenkins said it has become one of NASCAR.com’s best-performing pages.
Omnigon Communications, which has worked with NASCAR on its online and mobile efforts, said another focus is improving the battery of content available on non-race days. The changes, like many of the other tweaks, are based on both user feedback and internal analytics.
“One of the key ideas going into next year is doing a better job surfacing content throughout each week, and giving editorial more tools to keep things fresh,” said Igor Ulis, Omnigon chief executive and co-founder.
Also a priority leading into next year is striking more content partnerships with third parties. NASCAR struck a partnership earlier this year with video distributor SendtoNews, which provides content to newspapers and TV stations, generating an average of 800,000 video views a month.
“We are very happy where we are from a content standpoint,” Jenkins said. “It was a successful launch, but we have a lot of opportunities in the future.”