Some of you may have heard of Pulse and the work they’re doing within sport and social. If not then its more likely you’ll have seen their work on BBC Match of the Day or the recent ITV re-run of the RWC 2003.
They’re a young company growing quickly and are on the look out for designers and developers who have a keen interest in social media and the role it plays in sport. There’s details below so if you’re interested why not send them your CV to firstname.lastname@example.org
Pulse Innovations is a digital agency (owned subsidiary of Sony Europe). Closely aligned with the professional sports industry, this is a unique opportunity to work with global sports federations and leading media publishers.
Pulse was founded in 2008, sister company to Hawk-Eye, with a mission to enhance the engagement and interaction sports fans have with sporting events using digital platforms. Pulse has recently been awarded “Official Display Partner” status to Twitter, recognition of the innovation Pulse has brought to the sports and broadcast industries. https://media.twitter.com/tools-and-services
Clients include ESPN, BBC Sport, Twitter, International Cricket Council, BCCI (Indian Premier League), ITV, SAP, HP, & Fox Sports.
Click on the links below for full job descriptions and contacts details. Positions currently available include:
Football’s world governing body FIFA have not been noted for their digital excellence in the past but seem to be waking up to the possibilities as the first ‘social world cup’ approaches. Four years is a long time in technology terms so the changes that have taken place since the last tournament in South Africa have been immense.
We’ll go into more detail about how teams and players will be using social media in the lead up to and during the event in articles next year. But for now the concentration is on the draw in Rio this Friday.
Every new project needs a focal point to give it that initial boost and its the perfect event for FIFA to generate coverage of their new app. One that includes a live draw feature that means you can follow the teams being pulled out as it happens, see what that means in terms of the overall match schedule. There will also be team profiles and venue information available too. In a nice move there is sponsor integration, most notably linking adidas to the live draw.
It’s a seemingly massive app, one that no doubt has been in the planning, building and testing phase for a long time. As well as the World Cup, FIFA are looking to take a slice of the domestic league market. By taking your current location they can feed you info on your home league through the ‘World Match Centre’, giving latest scores, fixtures and standings.
It covers over 200 leagues and competitions from around the world, an enormous undertaking by anyones standards. To help sift through the mass of data you can add up to 3 favourite teams with a mix of national and club sides. Thus getting only the match information that is relevant to you.
There is other sections for you to explore including
FIFA/Coca Cola World Rankings
Integration with Facebook, Twitter and FIFA.com Club
“Our mission is not only to develop the game, but to touch the world and build a better future. With the official FIFA app, we are using mobile technology – the most personal technology ever known – to unite and inspire fans, ensuring they never miss a moment of the beautiful game.”
The official FIFA app will evolve over the coming months to provide an even better digital platform to unite the hundreds of millions of fans for the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil.
It feels very slick and easy to use, bringing all the latest scores and World Cup news you can want in one place. Time will tell how much I will use it but for Friday and being someone with no Sky Sports it could certainly be an asset. With a website that attracts over 7bn page visits during tournament time, their prediction of 70m app downloads may not be that outlandish after all.
London-based media owner Squawka (www.Squawka.com), the creators of the world’s most in-depth football website, have announced the launch of their iPhone app – The Squawka Football App.
The 16-person startup has spent 18 months testing their free web-based second screen for football fans which visualises real-time data from games alongside social media and photos from around the grounds. The results have been impressive, over 2 million football fans from 209 countries have used the service to understand more about the game they love. The team also boast that the average dwell time during live English Premier League games is 39 minutes.
The new Squawka Football App not only provides an incredible second screen experience powered by over 500 million data points, it also provides touch points throughout the day to fuel football conversations with an incredible ranking engine for both teams and players. Squawka license data from leading sports provider Opta, official data suppliers of the English Premier League, Brazilian National Team, Dutch Eredivisie and German Bundesliga. The App also covers Italian Serie A, Spanish La Liga, French League One, Mexican Liga MX, Brazilian Serie A, US Major League Soccer, UEFA Champions League, UEFA Europa League and will announce more leagues soon.
Co-founder and CEO Sanjit Atwal explains the move to mobile:
“We are in a unique position in that we have amassed a year and a half’s worth of data to understand what football fans are looking for from a second-screen. Our in-game experiences have proven hugely popular and fans have taken to visualised data in a massive way but we also understand that supporting your team is a 24/7 passion – it doesn’t end when the match ends. The experience has to be holistic and it has to be with the fan front of mind”.
Atwal goes on to mention the approach the team are now taking,
“The Squawka Football App has a ground-breaking rankings engine that allows fans to rank over 300k different permutations for teams and players to either start or finish everyday football discussions. Thanks to this innovation we can aim to become a multiple-daily touch point for football fans across the globe.”
Aside from second-screen capabilities and the rankings engine, The Squawka Football App also pulls in social, editorial (from the 60-person strong freelance Squawka content team), live images from photographers around the grounds, videos, news aggregation, stats, live blogging, push notifications plus coverage from 12 of the world’s top football competitions.
The team have also announced a sponsorship with leading betting company Betfair. Andrew Malloy, Senior Digital Brand Marketing Manager at Betfair commented on the partnership,
“We’re extremely pleased to be partnering with Squawka, whose new application gives Betfair the perfect vehicle to communicate our new Sportsbook offering to Football customers alongside our unique betting exchange. Betfair’s football product has so many exciting features, including In Play betting, Price Boost, Cash Out Multiples, and we feel Squawka’s app is the ideal platform in football to deliver the thrill of betting with Betfair.”
The App is out now in the Apple App Store with Android versions to come in the new year.
Looking through some old notes I’d made on Evernote this morning I came across the basis of an article I wrote back in January 2012. This was at a time when Real Madrid and Barcelona had installed wifi within their stadiums and other teams were looking at doing the same.
Almost 2 years on and the cost of installation is coming down and the possibilities are starting to be recognised. The likes of Liverpool, Man City, Celtic, Rangers and many others (especially in the US) have installations now. But have we actually moved much further forward than where we were then? Have teams decided what to do with the new capabilities or is it a case of it being seen now as something they just have to do?
Is it something that clubs can use to interact with fans during game time or is it more about allowing them to connect with friends and share content whilst in the stadium?
Here is what I wrote back then…
We see in many posts how clubs should be utilising social media for fans who come along to the games. The likes of Real Madrid and Barcelona have upped the game by making wifi powerful enough to actually be able to use your smart phone when there are 30,000+ other people in the area trying to do the same thing.
I can’t say that I agree with everything that he says but some of it does make sense. When people go to a game it is about the experience, otherwise they would just stay at home and watch it on TV (its cheaper and more comfortable for starters). The first aim for a club is to make the event day the most memorable, fun experience possible both on and off the pitch.
So when we start talking about in-game apps, talking to fans at the game on Twitter, etc are we taking them away from the experience they should be enjoying?
For one it depends on the sport. If you go to football, basketball or another fast-action sport then you will be too ‘in the game’ to be staring at your phone checking up on the latest stats. But for a longer event such as cricket, long distance running or motor racing then there will be things you can do that add to the experience when you won’t actually see that much action.
This is not to say there is not a role for using social media with fans coming to a game. But I would recommend sticking to this mantra, ‘be useful’!
Take time and think about what content is right for the fans on your different pages. If they are going to be either at the game or watching it on TV, are you adding that much by giving out score and action updates? If they’re watching it they already know. One alternative would be to set up an @XXXXlive account so people who want live updates when they are out shopping or on holiday can opt-in to this and follow the game. (note – this is something I did when working with the ICC, setting up @ICClive for match updates rather than clogging up the main account).
How about offering fans some useful info when they are on their way to the game. Give out info on traffic news, what the car parking situation is like, if tickets are still on sale, etc. Information which is useful to those coming in and at a time when they are more likely to be on their phones. Answer peoples questions and add to making the day the best possible experience for everyone coming along.
Facebook could be used to show the players getting ready for a match and offering behind the scenes clips that add to the pre-match buzz. Remember that you have to know which fans you are targeting with which platform.
There are so many platforms now, including the club websites, that it can be tempting to treat them all the same and farm out links and replicate content. If you can put together a strategy that gives each a purpose and knows which audience they are speaking to then you really are being ‘useful’.
What do you think…. If you have stadia wifi has it resulted in better interaction and been a useful asset to the business? Love to hear your thoughts.
Last month I had the opportunity to see, via a livestream rather than in person, a very interesting event put on by the BBC on ‘Sport, Social Media and ROI with Audiences’. It was part of their #SocialMediaWhatsTrending series and brought together a top line up of speakers.
The panel session was led by the BBC’s Ben Gallop (BBC Sport, Head of Interactive) and included another BBC employee, the Football Focus presenter Dan Walker, the EMEA VP of Never.no, Scott Davies and Manchester City’s Social Media Exec, Chris Nield.
For the purpose of this article I wanted to concentrate on the contribution to the session made by Chris and the presentation element he made during it. He ran through some of what he has been doing at the club since joining in 2009, which for a football club shows how early they were onto the social media scene, and their plans for the future (very topline).
We’ve known Chris since 2010 and an interview we did with him was one of the first articles ever published on the site (there are over 500 now!). Together with firstly Richard Ayers, and now Russell Stopford, he has helped push the club to the forefront of the digital sport industry.
In the presentation below you can see where social media sits within the club. Some of the main points include;
His role with players in verifying accounts and dealing with fake ones
Setting the clubs tone as being friendly and authentic
How they have recently launched 10 new language specific accounts (only English before)
And showed their Harlem Shake, which included all the first team players and has been viewed some 8.7m times!
The future for social media in the club is an interesting one. Just as we approach the time of year where we look ahead to 2014 (quick event plug for 9th Dec), the club are also looking at what’s next for them. Areas such as; stadium wifi (hot topic at the moment), expanding onto new networks, mobile integration, website integration with Facebook Connect and more targeted posts to fans are all in the pipeline.
It’s an exciting time for the club on and off the pitch, but the competition for fans time and attention is getting hotter. All clubs are involved at some level and with greater emphasis on ROI and the reported onset of social media fatigue. This means new challenges will arise that will also bring about new innovations. I’m sure Man City will be continue to lead on many of them.
As well as the presentation on its own, you can hear Chris present it in the video below. If you skip onto around 22min 30sec you will hear Chris taking you through his presentation (volume level is not great so may need to listen closely).
The overall panel session is just under 1 hour in length and offers some interesting insights from people with very different perspectives; the TV presenter who is looking at new ways to engage with fans during programmes and building his own profile at the same time, the technology expert who works within the live TV/social media space and sees what they are doing as just the start, and the football club social media exec who is always looking for new ways to engage with fans and build the brand.
Next week sees the launch of a new event run by the guys at Innovation Enterprise here in London. It’s an event that we at UK Sports Network are lucky enough to be involved with as a media partner, which means that if you are interested in heading over you can still get a 20% discount by using the code ‘UKSN’.
There are two sections to the event, one looks at ‘Sports Tech Innovation’ which concentrates on the performance side of sport and how technology is helping to advance different areas. The other side is the one we’re closest aligned to and that is ‘Digital Sport Innovation’.
If you’ve been along to any of our meetups in London you will recognise many of the names that will be speaking (and probably attending). On the first day you can hear from a number of top industry experts;
Mark Coyle (BT Sport) – The use of digital content strategy for new fan engagement
John Sinnott (CNN) – How social media has changed the role of the journalist
Denis Crushell (YouTube) – The integration of sports channels at YouTube
Luca Massaro (WePlay) – The wonders of data and the measuring for social media success in sport
Richard Ayers (Seven League) – Digital sport technology at Seven League
Darren Sandbach (The FA) – Supporting the development of football through digital
Matt Wilson (Ball Street) – Breaking ball street
The day then finishes off with a panel Q&A hosted by adidas’ VP for Innovation Qaizar Hassonjee looking at analytics in sport, something which will no doubt encompass both sides of the event with it being as important to digital marketers as it is it to performance analysts.
The second day is a shorter day but will not doubt be just as interesting. It’s going to be very much about the listening and learning, hopefully it will show up some of the challenges businesses and clubs have faced and not just how great they are in this particular field. We learn from being able to relate to those we hear from and not feel detached from them.
David Gibbs (Sky Sports) – Digital media at Sky Sports
Ben Ladkin (Arsenal) – The successful use of social media at Arsenal
Richard Welsh (BigBalls Films) – Creating a global sports network for a new generation
Matt Cole (Sporple) – How digital platforms will change the recruitment market and facilitate a breakdown in the current barriers to entry (!)
We will be there covering the event for UK Sports Network, so keep an eye out for tweets from both @UKSportsNetwork and @DanielMcLaren plus we’ll post up our summary after the event (with some video if any is available post-event).
If you can’t make that event or have a smaller budget then you can always head over to the next Digital Sport London event which is running on Wednesday 13th November at Vibe Bar, London. We’ll be chatting about influencer outreach with Lynsey Hooper (Sky Sports News, The Offside Rule Podcast), Gary Andrews (When Saturday Comes, Ruder Finn UK), Karis Buckingham-Jones (Girls Sport Talk) and hosted by award winning journalist Richard Gillis.
Early this month there was an interesting article from Sport Business Daily. In an interview with Twitter’s Head of Sports Partnerships, Omid Ashtari out in the US and produced an informative Q&A that covered a range of topics from the NFL to advertising and ticket sales to their relationship with TV.
We have spoken before with Twitter UK’s Lewis Wiltshire, who back then was Head of Sport before moving on to being Director of Media Partnerships earlier this year (congratulations Lewis). In that interview he talked about the need for creating an authentic voice, engaging with fans and being part of the conversation. Much of that is still being talked about by Twitter now as their drive to bring people together across the world continues to grow.
The platform has proved to be the friend of sport and perhaps more relevant than any of its rivals when it comes to live events. We have seen the good and the bad from clubs, athletes and brands alike over the past few years but overall it’s impact has been a really positive one for the industry.
In Omid’s interview there are, from a digital sports fan’s point of view, some really interesting extracts that can be taken from it. Below are those snippets of information and some ideas from which we can always learn, as well as our thoughts on what it all means.
Trial and error with sports team Twitter feeds:
“Teams are constantly live tweeting stuff throughout the season, but we wanted to figure out further, what is the stuff that has the most traction, what is going to give them the most return. … So we staged this conversation with five teams that MLB helped us set up to just test different things out. The biggest thing that came out of this, which everyone assumes but it was proven, is people love media. They want to get closer to the action and they want to get that insider perspective that nobody else has. What was fascinating is the performance of Vine — people love the story telling that’s happening on Vine.”
You can check out the results of their work with the MLB here. There is nothing groundbreaking about what is being said but it reaffirms what we know is the best path to take when working in the field. Teams now have a large amount of experience and have a firm grasp as to what they looking to achieve from the platform. This doesn’t mean to say that all are maximising it but there are going to be different politics and resource issues to be faced within each organisation. And don’t forget to at least test out Vine.
Best Twitter accounts:
“The L.A. Kings is far and away one of my favorite accounts. They’ve taken on the personality of the club but they also sort of shine and show what the personality of the team is. There are two specific examples. One was during the elections. They sent out a tweet on Election Day that said, ‘Make sure you get out there and vote because you will impact who’s going to shake our hand when we go to the White House.’ Then on the other end of the spectrum, the day they got knocked out of the playoffs by the Blackhawks, they sent a tweet to the Penguins that said, ‘Do you want to go get a drink?’ because the Penguins had lost the night before. It’s just personality. It shines through and it shows. The NBA is phenomenal because they’re constantly highlighting their players, celebrating them, sharing stuff that’s really interesting to the fans in real time.”
Very much from a US perspective but it highlights what the team see as best practices. Manchester City and Chelsea have long been held up as the leaders when it comes to Twitter in the UK but that gap has shortened now as all the top teams invest more heavily, especially Manchester United this year. Small clubs are not being left far behind as they look to make up for their lack of resource by being more creative and have the ability to move quickly when it comes to trying something new or reactive (much the same with big and small brands).
Advice for improving feeds:
“We’re not asking you to get closer to the edge. We’re asking you to be authentic and share what you would share with your fans anyways and just have fun with it. Part of getting closer and getting more insight is having a little fun with it. … We’re just continuing to try to educate our partners and brainstorm with them in what is this content that’s going to differentiate you and the stuff that your fans really want, but that’s also complementary to what’s happening on TV. You’re never going to replace the live action that’s happening there, but you’re complementing it with either social conversation or just insights and bringing them a little bit closer.”
Authentic and complementary. Two of the most commonly used words when it comes to social media, not just Twitter. But it’s great advice to sports clubs, federations, athletes and brands about what to do when planning your social media (and business) strategy. It’s not about replacing live events with social media but complementing it, giving the fans a reason to use it and making it either helpful, entertaining or informative.
Can Twitter drive ticket sales?
“In helping (teams) build their follower base, and doing these case studies around live tweeting, we’re trying to figure out what people engage with. We don’t know yet because Twitter’s not a commerce platform. Do people want to buy tickets on Twitter? I don’t know how much impulse purchasing of tickets happen. Surely if a team has 1,000 tickets left to sell they could potentially send out a tweet at noon and try to drive people to a site. Whether that ever lives on Twitter or not, I don’t know, but we’re not going to become the commerce platform but we may enable other people to do it.”
The million dollar question! Surely the next move for the tech company is to look at ways in which fans can purchase tickets, etc whilst within the platform. This has already started with the introduction of Twitter Cards, enabling brands to showcase products, and Lead Generation Cards where consumers can sign up for more information and join mailing lists. The thought of a US team trialling ticket sales through tweets is going to be close.
This week saw us run the first ever UKSN ‘Digital Sport London’, a move into looking beyond just social media but the greater impact that digital innovation has had (as continues to do so) on the Sports Industry.
We’re very proud of the events we put on and are always looking at new ways in which to educate and inspire those who come along. This is just the start as there are many new innovations and ideas that we’re looking to implement over the coming months, not just in London but elsewhere in the UK.
If you’re interested in what UKSN events there are coming up, then make sure you keep and eye on our events page. On there now you will find the booking forms for the next Digital Sport London event (13th Nov) and also our first venture into Leeds (20th Nov). Venues and speakers for both will be revealed shortly.
Back to our most recent event. We were very lucky to find a great host in The Bakery London, an accelerator fund in Old Street with a great events space and also a thank you to Stream UK who sponsored the drinks on the day.
During the event we heard from a set of amazing speakers who have ‘been there done that’ in a mix of case study presentations and panel sessions, all of which had one theme running through them – live sports events and how digital innovation has impacted the industry.
In future we hope to Live Stream our major events, when this happens we’ll make the announcement and make sure that you are aware of how you can tune in to them. The aim is to run the first of these at the next Digital Sport London event in November (fingers crossed).
As well as the presentations you can see below, there were two brilliant panel sessions that discussed the topic from very different points of view. The ‘Sports’ panel consisted of Richard Clarke (Arsenal), Robert Hodges (Sky Sports), Alexandra Willis (AELTC) and Andrew Humphries (The Bakery). The ‘Tech’ panel had industry luminaries including Simon Banoub (Opta), Sanjit Atwal (Squawka), Duncan Burbidge (Stream UK) and Andy McKenzie (LiveWire Sport).
Below are the presentations from the day. The first one coming from Alexandra Willis, Editorial Content Manager at the All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC), who looked at this years Wimbledon Championships and how they used digital media to take the message of the championships to fans around the world.
Next up was David Strachan who is Creative Director at Pulse Innovations, a company I know well from working for the earlier in the year. They are a technology company who work closely with Twitter and have clients such as the Indian Premier League, BBC, International Cricket Council and ESPN. David gave us a look at the work they’ve been doing with both the IPL and BBC, showcasing how Twitter can be integrated into live broadcast.
In the second half of our programme we took an interesting look at one event from two different perspectives. The event was the August Transfer Deadline Day, something that’s become a ‘must watch’ for most football fans as we look out for who our teams are going to sign right at the death.
Ball Street are a new company who work with the likes of Ian Wright to deliver football in a different way to fans. They worked on a live production that involved Wrighty, football bloggers and fans as their production took place with a live studio audience and Google hangouts. But what did they do and what did they learn from it? Co-founder Matt Wilson gave us some insights…
Finally, we had the pleasure of welcoming David Gibbs (Director of Digital Media) and Robert Hodges (Social Media & Community Editor) from Sky Sports. They gave us a multi-platform look at how they covered one of the biggest days in their calendar, one which in-essence they have invented and turned from a plain day in football to an international event.
Thank you to everyone who came along. Don’t forget to book your place on the next one where we’ll be welcoming some of sports top bloggers as well as speaking to a ‘mystery’ international guest. For more info go to our events page.
Next week sees our latest event, the newly branded Digital Sports London, which will become a regular feature on the meet-ups scene over the coming months. This month we’ll be talking about the impact of digital media on live sports events and it’s proving to be a hot topic at the moment.
This week News Corp and Perform have come out saying that rights-holders are holding back growth of sports content consumption on mobile and the internet. The claim is that they are in effect shooting themselves in the foot by not getting the maximum value for their rights because of their traditional stance on the packaging of deals.
This opinion is one that’s been highlighted at the recent TV Sports Marketing webinar by Sport Business. Simon Greenberg (Global Head of Right at News Corp) and Oliver Slipper (joint-Chief Executive of Perform) were very frank with what they thought was happening. Greenberg said;
“I’ve read rights-holders talking about how they are embracing digital. Well, I’m not sure they really are, I don’t think that they fully understand it. You are never going to embrace digital properly if you keep linking it to live rights. It’s a completely separate package of rights on its own.”
The argument is that if digital rights are sold separately then specialist digital operators would be able to bid for them without having to rely on the whim on the live broadcaster and what they wanted to do with their rights. This would lead to a rise in the value of the mobile and internet rights, whilst the main TV rights would at least hold their value. Slipper stated;
“The split that needs to happen if a sport wants to ensure that its content is consumed and its rights are monetised to the absolute maximum is splitting the clips away from the live – you just do not want your live rights-holder warehousing clip rights and not expanding the maximum reach of those products.”
This is from two companies who have a want and need to get hold of these rights to help grow their own audiences, thus have a vested interest. News Corp have, from this season, started showing game highlights on their pay-wall sites for the Sun and Times newspapers, whilst Perform have long worked with the likes of Football League Interactive and numerous betting sites to provide live content.
The point though is a valid one. We have seen the use of video clips in almost-real-time being used by the NBA, NFL and Sky Sports to create excitement around live events (driving to TV) and also monetised through sponsorship using platforms such as Grabyo and SnappyTV. It is only a matter of time before it becomes the norm here in the UK and elsewhere but with the main sports still prioritising the tying up multi-year deals with media companies, the question is when would it even be possible?
Last week was Social Media Week in London (if you hadn’t noticed through the deluge of event tweets) and as always it was a useful period in which to get to hear from some industry leaders and meet some new people.
The events I got to were: IBM “Game, Set and Tweet”, Richard Ayers and his panel’s look at ROI and the end of the “Sports Data for Social Marketing” at Bloomberg Sport. The final one was probably the one with the most interest and there were plenty of questions from the audience to a very knowledgeable panel.
The stage was taken by the likes of Richard Ayers (CEO, Seven League), David Gibbs (Director, Sky Sports Digital Media), Simon Banoub (Marketing Director, Opta Sports) and David Orman (VP, Kwamecorp Ventures). The panel was led by the President of Bloomberg Sports, Bill Squadron, whose calming tone and bags of experience made an insightful event.
You can catch what was said in the videos below as they discussed how brands leverage the use of sports data as a vehicle for fan engagement.