Are Apps Sports' Best Friend or Worst Folly?
Last week saw London Sport host the first Sports Technology Awards Debate, in association with Pioneers in Sport. With all parties sharing a keen interest in how tech-led innovations are influencing sport, it made sense to combine our networks to share insights as well as showcase the impressive new Sport Tech Hub, by London Sport.
Nearly 100 guests, from all aspects of the sports and tech sectors, enjoyed a lively discussion featuring a very insightful line up of panellists, which I was delighted to moderate. These were Archie Woodhead, COO, InCrowd a fan marketing company; Simon Ryley, Founder and CEO RightNow Digital, which creates fan engagement apps for sponsor brands and rights holders; and Teresa Aguilar, CEO of Pivot Sports which delivers Marketing Strategy and Execution using Big Data Analytics.
The theme of the discussion was ‘Apps – Sports’ Best Friend or Biggest Folly?’, not only were there a few hotly contested points, importantly, most guests felt that they learned something tangible and practical. Here were some of the main points covered
• An app is not always the right solution for the end user so don’t commission an app for the sake of it. Consider exactly what challenge or issue needs addressing, then work out if an app would solve it
• One of the main benefits of an app is that it can control the features of your phone e.g. accessing contacts, location, camera. If your brand’s app is just going to replicate web content then don’t bother, there are better things your organization can do with the budget
• Collecting behavioural data within the app is important but location, age and gender are still key bits of information for brands
• Think about how people behave – if they have time on their hands and need content, your app won’t be used if it doesn’t offer large quantities of information
• Apps are evolving in the way websites have. Originally websites had to be built from scratch but now people can access low-cost, off-the-shelf solutions. Apps aren’t quite there yet but in the near future, they will be built on top of mobile content management system platforms that provide key features out of the box
• Apps are not delivering any value for sponsor brands and need to align with their objectives as well as the rights holder’s. With a well-designed app, canny rights holders can also extend their digital assets and, consequently, improve financial yields from these.
Finally, if you are considering commissioning an app, these are the main things our panel suggested you remember:
1. The key part of the brief to the designers is demonstrating the challenges you are looking to solve with an app, the developer should come back with their approach to solving these
2. If you are a sponsor brand who is paying for the app to be built, ensure that it allows you to deliver on all the objectives of your sponsorship in an integrated manner, rather than being a stand-alone activation
3. Think about exactly what you want the app to do and how the success of this will be measured. Put these metrics in place at the start of the build, that way you can measure return on investment properly.