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Experts Discuss Sports & Mobile The Perfect Marriage

4 minute read | October 2011

Stephen Master, VP, Sports, Nielsen

On October 4, at Advertising Week, Nielsen hosted a panel discussion on “How Mobile is Changing Sports Media & Marketing.” One panelist dubbed the mobile phone the “first screen” because it’s always on and—more importantly—it’s always with you. For sports fans, that means instant score updates, fantasy sports at your fingertips and connecting with your favorite teams and athletes via social media, all without leaving the stadium, the train or your favorite armchair.

Jonathan Carson, Nielsen’s CEO of Digital moderated the discussion. Below are some highlights from the panel.

Jonathan Carson: We’ve said that mobile is the perfect platform for sports and sports apps are perfect for mobile. Can you elaborate on that?

David Coletti, VP, Digital Media Research & Analytics, ESPN: The perfect marriage is between mobile and sports. We see data that backs that up… The past two NFL Sundays, we had 10 million people use our mobile sites and 13 million using espn.com. In September, usage of ESPN’s mobile sites and applications represented 4.5 billion minutes of usage. All of that shows the power of the platform… and the market is far from saturated.

Clark Pierce, SVP, Digital Content, Fox Sports: We did research earlier this year that showed people go to their devices at least 100 times per day.

Doug Smoyer, VP, Business Development, New York Giants:

Super Bowl XLII was four years ago but “eons ago” in terms of mobile. After the Eagles game two weeks ago, the Giants shared a picture of the team in the locker room following the win. In just two hours, the picture received more than 40,000 “likes” on Facebook. It was incredible.

Jonathan Carson: What is it about mobile that changes the game?

Rob Master, VP, Media, Unilever: We are rethinking the model of the best available screen. Interaction goes well beyond that biggest screen… figuring out the best content, best message, best place.

Jonathan Carson: How does simultaneous usage, particularly for sports, impact your businesses?

David Coletti, ESPN: We launched ESPN XP to measure ad effectiveness across platforms. When you look at the different objectives that an ad campaign might have… each media pulls different levers. It’s about how we best mix your media. Creative in context is vitally important.

Rob Master, Unilever: Unilever has been marketing more to men thanks to the launch of several men’s lines, including Vaseline Men, Dove Men+Care and Axe (“helping guys in the mating game”).  Men and sports are a nice combination, marriage… We follow where our consumer goes. For sports, if we do it right with the right content, we win.

Jonathan Carson: How does mobile change your approach to sports marketing?

Mark Rooks, Sr. Director, Sports Marketing, Pepsi

We are always looking for new ways to engage consumers. Pepsi recently partnered with IntoNow. Around the launch of our MLB Field of Dreams ad, we asked consumers to use their mobile device to identify our ad, consumers were then sent cool interactive content and value offers. Mobile and social are also affecting how brands look at celebrity sponsorships. We now always look at a celebrity’s social activity and following. A second- or third-tier athlete who is incredibly active online can be a very efficient choice.

Jonathan Carson: Are you facing any particular challenges in the mobile space?

Doug Smoyer, New York Giants: Not every marketer is built or equipped the same… People don’t know what they want. They just know they want it.

The conversation might not always be what you want it to be. The Giants partnered with Walgreens for a flu shot campaign. After a loss, they received some negative comments during the campaign. If the team’s not performing well, you need to expect that.

Jonathan Carson: What’s coming up?

Rob Master, Unilever: How do we deliver more specific and relevant content by screen?

David Coletti, ESPN: It’s critically important that we have the power to measure… It unlocks more spending.

Clark Pierce, Fox Sports: We plan to work more with Facebook and Twitter. Also, the development of the HTML 5 platform will be interesting, specifically the security of video. This can create competition. Does a content provider develop an App and an HTML5 site or both?

Mark Rooks, Pepsi: Continued penetration growth and scale as well as contextual opportunities.  Being able to deliver our content the right way at the right time and location.  So for example, being able to recognize a fan in a stadium and reward them real time with experiences, content or product offers.

Doug Smoyer, New York Giants: The key is how we activate. For 2012, the goal it to find the right brand to go and activate a Foursquare partnership … a retail partner in the city of New York.

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