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Volume 21 No. 30

Opinion

We hope to see you at the Sports Business Awards and Leaders Week next week in New York City. On Wednesday, May 23, we will host our 11th annual Sports Business Awards gala at the Marriott Marquis Times Square in what is one of the biggest nights of the year in sports business. It promises to be a room full of big names, and includes the presentation of our Lifetime Achievement Award to former Disney Chairman and CEO Michael Eisner, who will be introduced by current Disney Chairman and CEO Bob Iger. In addition, our Celebration of Service award will be given to PeacePlayers International, which has focused on conflict resolution through basketball in some of the most dangerous parts of the world. This comes as we will present awards in 17 closely contested categories, including difficult decisions in Team of the Year, League of the Year and Best in Sports Media, among many others. Tables and single seats are still available, and we know you’ll enjoy the show.

But there are a few other events to put on your calendar as we look out for the next few months. First, we’ve been working with our partners at Intersport on the Brand Engagement & Content Summit that will be held at the hip Hotel Nikko in San Francisco on June 5-6. The event’s agenda balances sponsorship activation with customer engagement and content creation, and will be headlined by veteran marketer and Intel CMO Steve Fund, who has helped drive the company’s big investments in sports, and will lead the strategy for its global sponsorship with the International Olympic Committee.

Two weeks later, we’ll be in Detroit with our title sponsor AXS for our Sports Facilities & Franchises and Ticketing Symposium, where we will hit on the latest trends and strategies in ticketing, team and facility operations while touring Little Caesars Arena, nominated for Sports Facility of the Year and fueling a downtown renewal in Detroit, as well as touring its neighbor, Ford Field.

In July, we are hosting an expanded and enhanced Thought Leaders retreat, which is our exclusive invitation-only, two-day event that will be held at The Ritz-Carlton, Bachelor Gulch at Beaver Creek, Colo. We look outside of the traditional sports business in building out our program and will explore topics such as leadership, innovation, creativity, life balance, and diversity and inclusion.

In September, we will roll out our 6th annual Game Changers class, highlighting exemplary women in sports business, and hold our annual conference on Wednesday, Sept. 12 in New York City. If you’re interested in nominating a deserving candidate to be considered for Game Changers this year, you can do so online starting May 21.

Finally, if you have ideas for potential speakers for any of these programs or additional questions, thoughts or comments, please let us know. We certainly hope to see you at one of our events down the road.

Abraham D. Madkour can be reached at amadkour@sportsbusinessjournal.com.

Blank

In the past year, we’ve seen important cultural and social issues reach a new level of prominence in the media and in our communities. Sport has been a particularly powerful platform for bringing attention to a number of these social injustices and realities. I am very encouraged by the productive dialogue and progress that we, as a society and a sports community, have made.

However, as I enjoy what is another beautiful spring day here in Atlanta, I’m reminded of the land on which we live, build and play sports. The natural ecosystem and environment that surrounds us is too often overlooked and underrepresented in the conversation of what we as a sports industry can do to better the world around us. 

Our businesses, athletes, associates, and fans depend on a stable climate to support healthy communities and a thriving economy. Seasons are drifting away from the expected and increasingly becoming unusual and extreme. One only needs to look at the past year and the $306 billion in damage caused by devastating natural disasters in the United States including floods, wildfires, mudslides and hurricanes — all of which were fueled in some ways by climate change.  

Snow sports and hockey enthusiasts don’t need to be convinced. They see it and live it in real time. Other sports and athletes are beginning to feel the impact of the destabilizing climate as our communities and loved ones get hit by devastating flooding, droughts, storms and other disasters. The future well-being of our industry and that of our planet compels us to bring these issues into the spotlight.  

It’s well-documented that our fans care about the environment. Fans expect that we as sports teams and leagues are doing the right thing and following environmentally responsible practices. But, are we doing everything we can and could we be doing more to engage our fans in combating climate change?      

During this past season, the U.S. Green Building Council certified Mercedes-Benz Stadium as the first LEED Platinum professional sports stadium in North America. We received more certification points than any other sports project ever thanks to innovative design features such as the advanced storm water management system that captures rain water on site to mitigate flooding, which has historically been a significant issue in the historic Westside communities that we neighbor. We also partnered with Novelis to build a Habitat for Humanity home financed solely by 3 million cans that our fans recycled at Atlanta United and Falcons games. In a short eight months of operating the building, we donated and recycled more than 27,000 pounds of food from stadium events to feed the underserved in our community.  

This is proof that it is possible to have meaningful brand engagement with our fans and partners to make environmentally wise choices on how to build and operate our venues. We can improve our bottom line by reducing operating costs, activating corporate partners and engaging fans. 

The sports industry yields unprecedented cultural influence that can be used for good by raising environmental awareness and inspiring action on the scale that’s necessary to make meaningful changes.

I’m excited to be participating in the Green Sports Alliance Summit June 26-27 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta to help spotlight these critical issues facing our planet. Today, nearly 600 teams, leagues, venues, colleges, universities and individuals have joined the alliance and are making environmentally intelligent decisions on how we operate our venues and engage our fans. That’s real progress and we look forward to learning from you and furthering the conversation. 

We can sit on the sidelines as spectators or we can get in the game. Given the competitive nature of our athletes, teams and leagues, I can’t imagine any of us choosing to sit on the sidelines for this challenge.

Arthur Blank is chairman and owner, Blank Family of Businesses.

Like a lot of my female colleagues, I have two jobs: first, and most importantly, my role as a mother; second, my professional role as vice president of digital for 4FRONT. On an almost daily basis, these worlds collide as we’re routinely asked by our clients to create a digital strategy focused on engaging moms.

In these moments, I’m accountable for what 4FRONT likes to call the Double Bottom Line. The ROI (return on investment) of tickets sold and the ROI (return on inspiration) to mom the fan. Over the past five years, we’ve run hundreds of digital campaigns and the best strategies inspire me, the mom, and drive results for me, the executive.

It’s a wise approach to always start with facts. Seventy-eight percent of consumers prefer personalized ads (Adobe Digital Insights, 2016). When developing one-to-one messaging, keep in mind that not all moms are created equal. Millennial moms, working moms, stay-at-home moms, affluent moms and soccer moms all have different needs and wants, so a broad message will get lost in a digital blur. 

Any mom knows there are four food groups in a healthy diet for our families and the same rule of four holds true with the variety of platforms in a healthy digital strategy. 

Connected TV

FACT: 56 million Americans are defined as cord cutters, people who stream their television with a smart TV or device, such as Apple TV (Techcrunch, 2017). Forty-seven percent of streamers are women and 53 percent are between the ages of 25 and 44 (eMarketer, 2017), indicating the reach in the mom audience is substantial to teams looking to market to moms.

Hulu, one of many applications where data-driven, real-time commercials are placed, is an effective platform to reach moms and children. Hulu ads are targetable, so a household with a 5-year-old boy that is streaming a kids show will see ads for toys and cereals that appeal to 5-year-old boys. Affluent moms will see ads for vacations to Disneyland or holiday sales at Macy’s. 

Our family bought a subscription to Hulu a few months ago and my 5-year-old son has been asking for every toy he sees and quoting commercials, often sharing phrases or headlines with me. 

A great example is our work with our client Hendrick Motorsports and its sponsor Liberty University. LU is maximizing the niche data offerings available through connected TV via a student recruitment campaign targeting the fan base of NASCAR driver and student William Byron.

Multitasking moms are reachable at home, work and in the car with impressionable kids.
Photo: getty images

Facebook/Instagram

FACT: 83 percent of moms find Facebook to be useful (Pew, 2015). Facebook owns moms. Moms consume Facebook all day but in snackable moments to keep up with friends and stay informed.

My son recently asked me for a new toy. He gave a vague description and as I asked more questions to find out what it was, he told me it was at Target. I checked Target’s website, to no avail, and was soon retargeted on Facebook with a catalog of toys. The catalog ad format is called a carousel ad and it gave me the ability to scroll through images of different toys — all for 5- to 7-year-old boys and I found the toy!

Facebook and Instagram have been an incredibly successful platform for our UFC campaigns for both ticket sales and audience engagement. A year’s worth of campaign data around ticket buyers has uncovered potential within an audience they have not leveraged yet: moms. 

Websites and mobile apps 

FACT: In a recent Richmond Raceway digital campaign, full path to purchase data showed that 30 percent of ticket orders were influenced by ads shown on websites and mobile apps. The digital ecosystem is more complex than social. Be present on important websites where there is an opportunity to tell a story for the brand.  

Native advertising is an ad format that runs across websites and in mobile apps and is useful for storytelling. Native looks and feels like an article, but is a targeted advertisement with a compelling headline, robust copy, and supporting, clickable images. Native ads are shareable and stimulate organic reach on other platforms as readers are likely to share articles they find useful. Teams should keep native in consideration as a portion of all paid media efforts.

Streaming audio 

FACT: 66 percent of moms have an audio streaming app on their phone (4FRONT, BlueKai, 2018). It’s easier than ever to run Pandora in the car as most new vehicles come loaded with the app and some cars include Wi-Fi. Most Pandora users stream the nonsubscription version, which supports ads. 

Audio is a very effective platform to connect with both mom and child. In the car, I will hear a commercial without listening to it and will only remember it after my son repeats the tagline in his little voice. “One-oh-three-seven, ESPN,” is a regular chant of his because his dad always has local sports radio running.

Topgolf has seen success reaching moms through streaming audio as a means of driving foot traffic, and there is opportunity to leverage audio for opening day, special promotions and key matchups.

For sports organizations looking to reach moms like me through digital, using these four platforms in unison is the best plan to maximize a digital spend. A multistrategy, custom approach reaches mom in the right place and at the right time and achieves a Double Bottom Line. Because if your team’s fans are like me, they’re probably juggling two roles and constantly on the go!

Dezeree Christman (Dezeree@Team4Front.com) is the proud mom of 5-year-old Jazz and the vice president of digital for 4FRONT, where she manages digital media campaigns for sports and entertainment organizations.