Are you ready for some football? I bet you are if you’re a fan like me.
But if you’re an FBS or FCS college athletics administrator, July is a month when you’re still frantically getting ready for football, and the rest of all your fall sports. The predominant challenges that you’re facing are getting butts in seats, fans engaged, and of course, bringing in the dollars as one Pac-12 Assistant Athletic Director makes all too clear:
“Revenue generation are the first, second and third priorities. We’re seeing increased revenues, but we’re also seeing vastly increased costs. So we need to find new and creative ways to generate revenue.”
While there is no silver bullet (winning may be closest) there is also an evolved and reinvented technology that is available and ready to help solve some of those big challenges – mobile apps!
Yes, mobile apps in college athletics are no longer a throw-in for digital rights owners nor a throw-away to fans after the season is over. Here’s why:
Yes, all websites should adjust and fit on all screens. But a good mobile app offers services that websites only dream of. Multi-dimensional segmentation allows mobile app owners to personalize the experience based on users’ personas. Their login information tells apps basic information about them. Their tapping and swiping behaviors tell apps about their interests. Their device tells apps where they are and where they’re going.
Combine all that information and you get an extremely engaging experience for users and an incredibly valuable opportunity for brands to reach their target audience and gather indispensable analytics. Those are win-wins for everyone which you can’t get from a website.
That’s why top college website platforms such as CBS Interactive, NeuLion, Sidearm and SportsLabs are doubling down on their focus on mobile. Some are attempting to build those capabilities in-house while others are building strategic relationships with mobile-focused companies like Hopscotch, VenueNext and Yinzcam.
Game-day-focused apps that are available for the lucky few fans who have tickets to the game are certainly valuable, but as our same Assistant Athletic Director explains, that’s not enough:
“As an industry, we’ve missed on the app-development side by focusing on the in-stadium and in-venue experience. That’s 6 days or 7 days a year. We need to add value for the other 365.”
There are multiple strategies that schools and their partners are taking to engage fans during the off season including exclusive content and access to favorite sports and athletes, keeping those fans away from that awful nuclear “uninstall” button.
The top college sports marketing agencies such as IMG College, Learfield, Fox Sports, JMI, Van Wagner and Outfront Media have typically thrown-in mobile app sponsorships and ads with their more traditional advertising inventory which their sales folks have been comfortably selling for years, possibly decades.
But with deals like Fox Sports’ purchase of Auburn’s digital rights for $120M over 10 years, the name of their game is to innovate or lose your Nike, Adidas or Under Armor branded shirts.
With the availability of the aforementioned multi-dimensional segmentation, CPMs and CPAs are worth exponentially more to advertisers. Brands and merchants will pay big bucks to have the ability to target alumni who live in Los Angeles, or students handing out in the food court, or tailgaters barbecuing in the parking lot. Timely, deep-linked push notifications to a hyper-relevant in-app landing page is as effective and easy as selling Lebron James jerseys in Cleveland these days.
Mobile buzzwords like micro-targeting, geo-fencing and native experiences are no longer misunderstood pipe dreams. They are generating true ROI for both athletic departments and marketing partners.
So stop throwing in your mobile app and start solving your perennial revenue and engagement challenges with a state-of-the-art mobile app. It wouldn’t hurt for your football team to win often and play a bowl game on or after New Year’s too.