As part of the continual dialogue both in the lead up to the World Virtual/Augmented Sports Innovation Summit and thereafter we are speaking with some of the most influential and disruptive players in the sports and technology space.
As the first piece we spoke to CEO and Founder of Fanboard, Morgan Drake. One of the most frequently asked questions we have received from the sports industry, almost universally, has been looking at effective means to monetize and demonstrate a clear ROI with Immersive Technology projects.
There are some truly excellent debates at the moment as to which immersive technology will come out on top. In this instance, Augmented Reality presents a really strong opportunity to create really powerful insights and measurements for in-venue experiences - Fanboard are providing some really awesome solutions.
Check out the interview below.
(1) First of all, tell us more about Fanboard... What is it you do and where did the idea come from?
The catalyst for Fanboard was a hackathon hosted by the Atlanta Braves. Here a senior member of their marketing team listed specific needs they must have in place in order to achieve their goals.
As we continued to validate our ideas we found there were some fundamental problems that demand solutions. While sports have remained the same for decades or even centuries, the world has changed dramatically. The world is too dynamic for fans to be passive bystanders. There is too much incentive to keep fans at home and not enough engagement to keep fans entertained at the ballpark. MLB attendance has peaked in 2007 and has been flat ever since. CBS reported college football attendance has been down six years in a row.
There is a serious lack of insight and measurement for in-venue experiences. Are fans watching your sponsorís activity in between innings or are they taking a selfie or playing candy crush? There is a fierce battle for screen time but no one has any idea if they are winning or losing.
Instead of simply watching, what if the fan experience was interactive? What if these interactions automatically collected to a fanís story where they could be shared on social platforms? The Fanboad solution integrates the selfie or mobile game experience into the fan experience that is taking place on the field.
(2) Where do you see the greatest opportunities for immersive technology in sport?
I will never forget my first trip to a big league park, Yankee Stadium six years old. Itís such an awe inspiring spectacle. Where VR allows you to feel that experience from home, AR allows teams to build upon the spectacle of actually making your way into the gates. AR also allows teams to connect with their younger audiences from those six years olds up to the college students who are engaged with immersive technologies like PokemonGo.
AR has a major advantage over other immersive technologies as it isnít dependent on hardware. We donít expect fans to lug around cumbersome headsets, but AR can be experienced by all fans through that little piece of technology they already have on them.
Although AR is not dependent on hardware it will be able to scale with the development of new devices. Sunglasses will evolve to Hololense capabilities, and with these advancements Fanboard will have the ability to scale infinitely.
Fanboard is all about the fan experience, but we are also excited to see how AR will affect the player experience. AR visors, glasses and goggles highlighting key information to players in real time will be complete game changers in future years.
(3) How does Fanboard create enhanced digital engagement between fans and sponsors?
Fanboard enhances these engagements by making them interactive. Today these engagements allow participation for one lucky fan or simply allow fans to watch from afar or yell at the display board to give a response.
Letís take the mascot race, The Atlanta Braves have a Home Depot tool race for example. Marketing teams really donít know who is paying attention. Fanboard can turn this into a more immersive and measureable experience.
Fanboard allows fans to take a selfie as a tool. The marketing team receives the content and can send their favourites to the display boards and fans are requested to share their selfie on their preferred social platform. Fans who chose the winning tool are given a digital Home Depot gift card. Now Home Depot knows how many people took a selfie and were truly engaged with the experience, how many Home Depot tools went up on the big screen and how many were seen on social, how many gift cards were sent, how many were redeemed and how many sales were achieved by this experience.
(4) What do you see as the greatest challenges to achieving greater engagement?
In order to get fans engaged we need them to get to Fanboard. We work with franchise clubs to help generate the initial excitement, spread awareness and lead their fans to the engaging opportunities.
A huge plus for Fanboard is that we are not providing not just one game or experience. Most of what we have seen with AR in the sports industry has been one-off experiences- one download means one new interaction, whereas Fanboard provides a suite of games and experiences. This mean we have an on-going learning experience of what fans love what interactions. All in all a good problem to have and we are excited to take on the challenge.
(5) Fanboard partner with clubs to increase partnership revenue Ė tell us more about this relationship and how it works.
Fanboard views clubs as partners and sponsors as customers. Optimally everyone has a seat at the table when discussing new fan engagement opportunities. The clubs help orchestrate discussions and manage the new experiences on game day.
With all constituents working together we can enhance current fan experiences or create new ones altogether and we can focus on the goals that matter most to the clubs and the sponsors. For example, a minor league team has a sponsor host a softball toss where fans receive a free concession item if they catch the ball in the stands. Fanboard can apply the experience to all fans by having AR fly balls come their way- slow at first and then faster and faster. High scorers at the end also win a concession prize. We can also entice fans to come back by keeping track of the scores and at the end of the month or season the highest scoring fan wins a larger prize presented by the team or the sponsor.
Similarly UPS, FedEx or DHL boxes can be hid around the stadium and when they are captured a mascot or an all-star player jumps out like a jack-in-the-box. Maybe the goal is to get the fans around the venue to spend more time and end up near a beverage stand or maybe only one box is present at each game and the fan needs to return to the game two more times to find the additional boxes.
Sponsors pay Fanboard for the direct interaction taking place within the venue as well as the social impressions generated from fans sharing their Fanboard stories. All of these interactions offer more fan delight which encourages fans to come back to the ballpark and the impressions provide exposure to the clubs as they all take place within their venue.
With access to all of the user generated content, teams can exponentially grow their social media value. For example, the LA Lakers have a social offering valued at $11 million by using their own social team, imagine what they can do with content supplied by their fans regardless of hashtags and handles. This content is also rich with native advertising and teams can strategically select content where sponsors banners and display board advertisements are captured.
(6) What are you looking forward to most at the World VR/AR Sports Innovation Summit?
I love hearing the unique ways fans are creating fun experiences with their fans. We collect and study in-stadium promotions and events across the country. I am always surprised at the creativity of the marketing teams and I cannot get enough of it.
Our goal at Fanboard is to augment stadium experiences and turn them into engaging interactive experiences that are captured in social media. Inevitably, the conversation transitions to completely new ideas and the fun continues.
I am also excited to hear about new technologies and how they are influencing the sports industry.
(7) Finally, where can we find out more about Fanboard ahead of the Summit?
As I mentioned I cannot wait for these conversations. Please feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell me what unique fan experiences you are providing your fans and we can start developing plans to make them even more engaging.
Of course you can always visit our website www.fanboard.co
The World Virtual/Augmented Sports Innovation Summit held in†San Francisco†on†November 15-16†is the†intersection of sport and technology†and brings together the leaders from across the†entire sporting ecosystem. With the very latest in immersive technology being showcased alongside the leading commercial, marketing and performance strategy from the global sports industry it is the†decisive event for the sports performance and entertainment industries.
Visit www.virtual-reality-sports-innovation.com to book your place.