In the sports world, reaching your online audience is of paramount importance.  Exactly how to reach them is a question that is constantly asked, and the answer to which is constantly evolving.  The endless stream of new technologies that purport to help you achieve this goal comes thick and fast – it can all get a bit much for those looking to stay ahead of the pack, and those who are simply trying to keep up with it.
But don’t worry, we had a look around for you.  We crunched the numbers, conversed with the techies, and tapped into our wealth of wisdom to decide which digital trends could affect your sports strategy in 2017.


Data – it’s out there, you just need to grab it.  Knowing what to grab and where to grab it from is the hard thing.  We will create, replicate, and consume 44 zettabytes (or 44 trillion gigabytes) of data by 2030, and we’ll have 200 billion Internet-connected things by 2030.  That’s a lot of things.
Hiding within these gigantic numbers are invaluable insights that, when used correctly, can help


It may already be on your whiteboard, but optimizing the current user experience now needs to be your priority.  Audiences are becoming ever-more fickle – one bad experience in the user journey, one too-slow-to-load page on a mobile device and that user is gone.
Every touch point matters.  Data will help identify your audience’s preferences, so build these into your approach to help audience retention.  The meteoric rise of smartphones and the first generation of short-attention-spanned ‘millennials’ blossoming into decision-makers will make this attention to detail a necessity.


Last year mobile replaced desktop as king of web traffic.  This year, smartphone use has continued to grow and the biggest markets are in developing economies.  It’s time your organization adopted a ‘mobile-first’ approach to its strategy, especially true for your sports events where your audience is fundamentally mobile.
The smartphone meets the first rule of marketing – be where your audience is.  Not only will loyal fans want to connect with your brand via mobile, but through new methods like programmatic advertising it has become easier and cheaper to reach a whole lot more.
The last frontier for paid social media advertising.  Use of social messaging apps has rocketed in the past few years and their owners have been trying to find ways to monetize them.  Asian brands like WeChat, KakaoTalk, and LINE already allow brands onto their platforms – giving them access to a massive and highly engaged user base.
When the western platforms open their doors, it will give sports rights holders the opportunity to personalize the information they share with millions of hungry fans.


Now onto the really fun stuff.  Artificial intelligence will shape all industries, not only sports.  The rise in implementation of A.I. complements the rise of smartphone use and social messaging apps.  How often do you use your mobile’s voice assistant?  This technology is becoming increasingly popular and tech giants like Google are pushing it hard.
This year the Washington Capitals became the first NHL team to launch a Facebook Messenger bot.  If managed correctly, artificial intelligence will allow sports rights holders to interact with millions of people at once and improve the overall fan experience.


This is what Pokémon Go did to humans.  We’re just scratching the surface of augmented and virtual reality technologies.  The sports industry appears to be welcoming the innovation with open arms – the NBA delivered its first live game in VR for fans, and NBC and the BBC jumped on the bandwagon for the 2016 Olympics.
Imagine giving your fans the experience of a live event from any location.  Pretty cool, right?  This technology will change the game for brands whose fandom spans multiple countries.  I have a feeling this trend will also be on our 2018 list.
For the sports industry, marrying the traditional magic of events with new technologies should be at the core of digital strategy.  It can be an overwhelming task, but remember – digital isn’t physical.  With all this improved technology comes improved advice.
If you would like to get your head around the potential of technology, and you need some help unlocking and unleashing its power, then get in touch – we’d love to help your sport progress.
It’s why we exist.