XRii reveals how its innovative tech is revolutionising fan engagement
By Matthew Endresz, Founder and CEO, XRii
The digital revolution is undeniably transforming the live sports and entertainment experience. It’s ushering in unprecedented access, interactivity and engagement with the rise of virtual venues and concerts enabled by AR (augmented reality) and VR (virtual reality) technology, the growing popularity of Esports and the emergence of NFTs, among other innovations. In fact, Australia’s sports technology sector is now worth A$4.25 billion, putting it equal in value with the country’s financial technology sector, according to a recent study by the Australian Sports Technologies Network (ASTN).
However, the impact of the digital revolution goes beyond enhancing the quality and accessibility of live events. It is also reshaping the business landscape of sports and entertainment, generating new and innovative business models. The integration of technology has opened up a plethora of revenue streams, allowing for monetisation opportunities that were previously untapped.
“To truly capitalise on this exciting time and this massive opportunity, sports clubs must evolve,” said Matthew Endresz, Founder and CEO of leading Aussie marketing platform, XRii.
“They have to ensure sports remain captivating for the next generation of fans whilst keeping the current state of sports fandom strong. This means continually adapting, innovating and creating unique brand experiences.”
Sports engagement and the ‘value exchange’
According to a recent report on sports teams and associations, 55 per cent of fans are willing to share psychographic data like purchase motivations and product feedback with sports brands. Furthermore, half of the surveyed fans express their desire for incentives like coupons, loyalty points or exclusive access in exchange for sharing their data.
“But not just any data. With evolving privacy regulations and the demise of third-party cookies looming, sports clubs need to provide a compelling value exchange to get fans to willingly hand over their personal information,” Endresz explained.
“This value exchange will help them give fans what they want when they want it,” he explains. “This is mission-critical in today’s competitive market where instant gratification and seamless experiences are the norm thanks to tech giants like Amazon and Google who have set the bar high.”
“Smart sports clubs understand the value exchange with fans doesn’t always have to rely on discounts or extravagant prizes. Providing access to exclusive content and immersive sports experiences can also serve as effective incentives for collecting zero-party data.”
“By delivering what fans want, precisely when they want it, sports clubs can transform an “unknown” audience into a “known” audience. These “known” fans present significant potential in terms of direct revenue, partner revenue and active participation – a solid victory for sports clubs.”
Who is getting it right? The best of the best in sports marketing in action
Leading sports organisations are embracing the power of digital experiences to achieve a range of objectives. The following sports clubs are creating innovative and impactful digital experiences with experiential marketing that drive results.
Established in 1989, Perth Heat has emerged as one of the most accomplished teams in the Australian Baseball League, boasting an impressive history with a record 15 Claxton Shields and a track record of nurturing players who have gone on to Major League Baseball.
Looking for innovative ways to enhance fan engagement, Perth Heat turned to XRii to develop a customised app, which facilitated a A$50,000 cash giveaway, enabling data collection and rewarding users with in-app incentives. The seamless integration of XRii’s AR technology with digital campaigns and in-venue experiences led to impressive results, including:
- 60% app downloads converted to user sign ups
- 75% app users entered into the A$50,000 promotion
- 76% vouchers collected
- 95% vouchers redeemed
The integration of XRii technology not only fostered greater engagement with fans and sponsors on game day but also opened new avenues for revenue generation for both the club and its partners.
Founded in 1904 to provide unity among national soccer associations, the Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) is arguably the most prestigious sports organisation in the world.
To keep pace with its winning reputation and exceed fans’ expectations, FIFA continues to push the boundaries of innovation and deliver unparalleled experiences. In 2022, it released FIFA+, an AR app that offers viewers immersive content via mobile devices to bring the action to fans wherever they are, which is sure to bring even more excitement to FIFA Women’s World Cup Australia & New Zealand this year.
The completely free platform features a host of immersive and engaging features. A few highlights include:
- Full tournament coverage, with an industry-leading live blog running non-stop, capturing the sights, sounds, atmosphere and energy of the world’s biggest football celebration.
- Official highlights, with each and every match recapped within minutes of the final whistle and all the thrills, drama and emotion available to fans in every corner of the globe – with a version available to watch in sign language as well.
- FIFA+ Stadium experience, allowing fans in the stadium to experience the action in new ways with a live AR overlay of stats, heat maps, insights, different camera angles, VAR replays and more.
Formed in 1903 to foster unity among baseball enthusiasts worldwide, MLB (Major League Baseball) stands as a symbol of excellence in sports. Continually pushing the boundaries of innovation and aiming to exceed fan expectations, MLB recently debuted its immersive ‘MLB All-StAR Scavenger Hunt’ this July, bringing the game to life like never before.
The first-of-its-kind MLB scavenger hunt cleverly engaged fans, earning participation and gaining valuable customer information that could be further used to personalise experiences by:
- Offering fun prizes: World Series tickets, signed baseballs, a batting practice experience and All-Star-themed apparel were up for grabs.
- Unlocking creative AR experiences: Using Snapchat to scan designated, hidden Snapcodes at various locations, fans could unlock innovative AR experiences.
The NFL (National Football League) is not only a prominent professional sports league in the United States and Canada but also the pinnacle of American football worldwide. It sets the benchmark for innovation among sporting clubs.
To enhance the NFL experience, the league introduced an app with augmented reality (AR) features. Fans can use their cameras to create and share images, incorporating virtual helmets and eye black, on social media platforms.
The 2023 Super Bowl is a testament to the club’s ongoing commitment to pushing boundaries with innovative partnerships and technology usage, including:
- Avocados From Mexico partnered with ChatGPT to create an immersive campaign during Super Bowl 2023. Leveraging AR and ChatGPT technologies, they launched a digital platform called “Always Good” that allowed users to engage in various online experiences, including:
- A music toolkit that generates personalised tracks based on the user’s Spotify account.
- AR capabilities on Instagram, enabling users to trigger specific sounds with different facial expressions.
- A ChatGPT section for generating and sharing Tweets
- A collaboration with Roblox to develop a series of virtual experiences, including:
- “Super NFL Tycoon” game, which allows users to experience owning an NFL team, undertaking tasks like drafting players, building an “Intuit Stadium” and managing finances, payroll, taxes and customer acquisition with the assistance of Intuit’s products
- A virtual concert for the NFL’s Super Bowl LVII pregame, featuring musician Saweetie.
Final takeaways: Using technology to win big in the sports industry
- Create rewards at a venue: Savvy sporting organisations are increasingly leveraging technology like AR and geo-mapping to drive engagement and sponsor traffic at events. This can look like placing rewards throughout a venue that sports fans can collect and redeem at sponsors’ online stores or event booths. A win-win scenario, this helps entertain and engage attendees during breaks whilst also driving greater value for sponsors and business partners.
- Score points with your fans with AR and gamification: AR is also used by brands and organisations to deliver interactive challenges and games to their audience by inserting digital effects in real world settings. Whether it’s catching a ball or kicking a goal, AR provides a great opportunity for interaction whether your audience is at home, attending a match or in a store.
- Tailored marketing using segmented audiences: Through digital experiences such as those mentioned above, sports marketers can collect valuable information about audiences. This data is the key to creating more relevant marketing and content tailored to a person’s interests. XRii allows businesses to create in-venue or at-home digital experiences and includes built-in analytics and insights to help understand your customers more and drive better engagement.
- Run a contest or giveaway: Do you want to run a cash giveaway, meet-and-greet with an athlete or product giveaway? Running your contest through a high-quality digital experience helps drive entries and gather valuable information about audiences. QR codes have become a popular, fast and easy way to gain digital engagement at venues.
- Guide attendees through the venue: AR can also be used to guide attendees through your venue with the assistance of geo-mapping. This can provide helpful directions to seating areas as well as stalls and activities. By creating an interactive map, you can highlight key sponsors and drive traffic to live events happening during breaks. This can be used in combination with location-specific rewards to help drive interactive experiences.
- Create fan loyalty programs: In 2022, Manchester United appointed a new role — head of fan engagement. The goal was to strengthen the club’s relationship with game attendees as well as those who can’t attend live games like overseas fans. An essential part of this strategy is recognising and rewarding digital fan interactions, ultimately creating a positive feedback loop between your audience and your brand.
“By staying agile and harnessing emerging technology to keep sports a fun experience for every generation of fans, sports clubs can win, maintaining their relevance, fostering enduring connections and securing their position in the ever-competitive sporting industry,” Endresz concluded.