The XLIVE Data and Analytics Summit convened in Los Angeles April 3rd and 4th. The event brought together professionals from both the sport and entertainment industry to explore the impact of data and analytics on live events in the digital era. From technological innovations to emerging trends, the day was full of powerful insights and engaging conversations. During the various panels, keynote speakers, and discussions throughout the event, lessons were learned on ways to leverage data and analytics to produce better live events.
Using Data to Enhance the Fan Experience at Live Events
The first panel of the day, The Ultimate Fan Engagement – Utilizing Data to Enhance the Fan Experience, focused on using data to enhance the fan experience. Lead by Jay Tucker, Executive Director at UCLA’s Center for Management of Enterprise in Media, Entertainment and Sports, the speakers included Michael Parnes, VP of Research for Adult Swim, Cynthia Frelund, Predictive Analytics Expert at NFL Media, and Andrea Bailey, Vice President of Partnership Activation for the Global Partnerships division of AEG. The group started off by discussing how organizations are reevaluating what a fan is and what their expectations are. Now traditional media platforms are having to think on the same lines of live event producers about how to create the best fan experience in person. This can be done by collecting data from various touch points like social platforms and in person surveys. Now instead of one way advertising, fans are expecting a two way conversation. They expect to be engaged rather than just marketed to. Analyzing data collected can provide powerful insights into the best channel and method to engage with them. Knowing your audience through the use of information gathered can allow you to tailor events to a fans needs.
A lot of time improving an event involves using the data to test various hypothesis. As moderator Jay Tucker said, “In order to get something you’ve never had, you have to do something you’ve never done.” A huge value must be placed on learning and trying new things in order to create better fan experiences. Today venues like the Staples Center are using live technology inside the arena to track things like dwell times in order to create a seamless event. They are also tracking what types of questions are being asked at information booths and other outlets to gather as much data as possible. Tracking this information gives event organizers an advantage over those that do not because they have valuable insights into ways to optimize their events.
Deciding which talent to be at an event or which high profile individuals to use to promote is no easy task. However, data is showing that using real people to engage audiences is a more successful route to go. Michael Thomas, Safety for the NY Giants, Steve Scebelo, Vice President of Licensing and Business Development at NFL Players Inc, and Blake Lawrence, CEO at Opendorse presented Leveraging Social Media and Data Strategies to Drive Brand Awareness and Revenue Streams with the NFLPA and Opendorse. The session presented data that demonstrates that fans want a human connection. Players receive on average 2.25% engagement compared to .65% that teams receive. “People (not brands) slow your scroll.” This is why brands are and should be turning more towards utilizing athletes and creating more personal marketing campaigns through an individuals social media rather than their own.
Continuing to focus on how to leverage data when creating and improving events, Keynote with Theresa Locklear, VP of Audience Science Analytics at Viacom focused on the importance of collecting the right data and using it for modeling. As a traditional media company like Viacom moves more towards experiential marketing, they are placing a heavy reliance on data and analytics to reach audiences and enhance their events. Their data collection has three main goals, ticket sales, future events, and engaging audience. By utilizing ticket sales data an organization can pivot its marketing plan in real time to ensure that the event reaches sales goals. Data can also help to determine optimal locations for the event and what talent will be at their events.
Using Data for Live Event Ticketing, Sponsorships, & More
Selling out an event is a great indicator of the events success but can also create some tensions amongst fans when they are forced to buy and sell in the secondary market. Stephanie Rosa, CEO and Founder of Festival Squad, led a panel discussion on Improving Event Ticketing with Data Insight with participants Jesse Grushack, Senior Strategy & Product at ConsenSys, Sam Alpert, VP Of Marketing at Paradigm Talent Agency, Gilad Horev, VP Of Product at Eventbrite, and Ant Taylor, Founder and CEO at Lyte. One major problem that the session focused on is that when an event is sold out, fans are turned away and have to use a third party. This drives up ticket prices and leaves everyone, the fan who pays more, the artist who does not see any income from the secondary market, and the event who has to deal with potential fraud, unhappy. “You don’t want only your rich fans to get a ticket.” Organizers are not properly leveraging data collected in the primary market to make a better secondary experiences for buyers. Lyte is one company working with event organizers to help resolve this problem. What is even better is that the data is showing that their efforts are working. For Newport Music Festival the platform stopped 10% of tickets from going to speculators and $100,000’s of dollars by preventing 95% of ticket scalping. Another solution that was discussed was the use of Blockchain to help alleviate the issues revolved around event ticketing. This technology is fairly new but holds a wide range of possibilities. While their are solutions on the rise, it is up to event producers and organizers to utilize data to help improve the ticketing experience for their attendees.
Branded events and sponsorships present unique ways to leverage data and analytics to create events and demonstrate ROI. Digitization of the Live Event Experience brought together Sohrob Farudi, CEO of the Fan Controlled Football League, Keith Bendes, VP of Marketing & Strategic Partnerships at Float Hybrid, Stephanie Laichi, Marketing Director at Pop Montreal, and Erin Prober, Director Of Strategic Partnerships, LA Clippers.
Sponsorship Analytics – Data Driven Value for Activation included Rachel Noonan, Director Of Marketing Communications and Strategy at the Toronto International Film Festival, Stephanie Rosa, CEO and Founder of Festival Squad, Georgia Sapounas, Director Of Digital for the Canadian Olympic Committee, and Frantz Cayo, Senior Director of Programming and Talent at BET. Both of these put an emphasis on the analytical side of the equation. Having data is only effective if you have the proper analyst in place to synthesize it and develop strategies to leverage that information. Online platforms like Hoot It, Umbel, Simply Measured, Salesforce, Vendini, Artifacts, and others help live event producers gather and analyze various data points. These analytics can provide powerful insights on how to create memorable and positive fan experiences. After an event, the data is also useful to demonstrate ROI and benefits to a brand.
One of the last presentations of the day, Data Lessons with MLS and National Lacrosse League with Nick Sakiewicz, Commissioner of the National Lacrosse League, highlighted the data used to predict and elevate Lacrosse’s rise in popularity within the United States. By successfully analyzing trends from the sport and others like Major League Soccer, the league was able to successfully leverage growth patterns and data points to influence sales and partnerships.
The closing Fireside chat, Weaponizing your Data – The Providence of Insight, with Joe Kessler Global Head of UTA IQ, laid a heavy emphasis on the change in markets and shifts in society occuring today. Today audiences want to connect with brands that reflect their values. Also 7 in 10 Millennials would rather buy a cool experience over a cool product. Because of this, it is important to focus on fan engagement and the power of experiences. Companies who do well in the future will be those who turn their threats in assets.
Overall the day emphasized the importance of collecting key data points, analyzing the information gathered, and leveraging insights gained to produce and improve events. Providing the best fan experience is beneficial to event organizers, performers, brands, and fans. Data has demonstrated that utilizing real people to promote and creating memorable experiences is the key to attracting and retaining engaged fan bases. In the future we will see data and analytics continue to deliver powerful insights that drive successful events and increase fan engagement.