Fan engagement — the new holy grail for sports brands

Sport is a universal passion. In any country and in any language, sport inspires like nothing else. It offers a constant source of conversation, community, and connection.

In a digital economy now worth over $4 trillion, the sporting industry itself is undergoing a dramatic transformation. This goes beyond enhanced player performance, or data-driven recruitment on the field, but also off the pitch through immersive and innovative fan engagement and experiences – utilizing VR, instant access to match highlights, and real-time goal footage.

The diversification of the modern sports fan

Over the past few years, there’s been a renewed sense of urgency on every sporting club and organization to accelerate their digital transformation as a new breed of digital-first, always connected fan emerges.

I’m one of them, having been a season ticket holder at English football club Arsenal for 30 years. As with any modern sports fan, I want to be constantly connected to my football club, whether that’s through real-time team news, notifications on the latest transfer rumors, match ticket availability, or the latest offers on merchandise, all pushed to my device of choice.

Ultimately, the delivery of these experiences boils down to how well clubs understand their supporters, and how they can use that understanding to better personalize their content. That’s why data — and how we collect it — play such a critical role in creating the experiences that modern sports fans crave.

Building a global sporting brand through digital experiences

As with any business, the need to continue driving growth and generating revenue opportunities for sports clubs is paramount — and digitalization is fundamental to this growth, transforming sporting clubs into global brands to attract new fans, and keep engagement and loyalty amongst existing fans high.

For example, Arsenal’s fanbase is estimated to be upwards of 750 million people, so I often bump into fellow supporters while travelling. These fans are just as passionate as myself and possess the same desire to feel constantly connected to and involved with the club.

Many sports clubs attract new fans by playing friendly matches and tournaments abroad, but they’ve retained those fans by keeping them engaged and connected through digital experiences, such as exclusive player interviews on social media or behind the scenes footage through dedicated club apps.

Redefining the digital sports experience

In response to the shifting expectations and demands of the modern fan, many of Adobe’s customers in the sporting world are embracing the largescale digital transformation currently dominating the industry.

For example, Spanish football club Real Madrid is passionately recreating the community spirit of supporting the iconic club, but at global scale. Another European football giant, FC Bayern, is also looking to push the boundaries of how digital can redefine the fan experience and attract new audiences.

Both are leveraging the power of data-driven, personalized experiences within Adobe Experience Cloud — including Adobe Real-Time Customer Data Platform — to meet and exceed the needs of millions of supporters worldwide.

Outside of football, Major League Baseball is also partnering with Adobe to deliver new levels of personalized, seamless experiences to its millions of fans – bringing the unique and traditional atmosphere of the ballpark to people across the world.

Thriving in today’s digital economy

Even in our digital-first world, it’s still creativity and personalized connections that we crave most as a people and a society. And perhaps nowhere else is this better personified than the world of sport, where we become unexplainably (almost unavoidably) attached to our favorite clubs and players, for life.

Building these long-lasting connections is what will allow the sporting clubs and organizations of the future to flourish — and it’s a truly exciting time to be a part of it.

You can find out more about our exciting work in the sporting world here.

Simon Morris is the vice president of marketing with EMEA and APAC at Adobe.