Using Paid Media to build Digital Strategy

In the latest episode of the Digital Rookie Podcast, I sat down with Trishan Naidoo. Trishan is a very experienced digital marketing strategist, now in a performance marketing role at the AFL. His knowledge of the paid media industry made for a really interesting chat and following are my key takings from our discussion. 

Trishan’s advice for how he thinks graduates should look to approach improving their employability was particularly intriguing. Trishan emphasised the value of being very good at a particular skill as a way of getting your foot in the door of the sports digital industry. I noted this opinion as it’s a bit of a different approach to what others have advised. I think the sports digital industry has multiple facets, there are a lot of different roles but quite often it seems as though your first role is not what you envisage. Unquestionably, being really good at one particular skill can make you a great candidate for a specific role, however I think it can potentially limit your prospects of gaining opportunities and developing your career in other ways. At this stage of my career, being versatile is essential to being available to say yes to any job available. When most employers in the industry are looking for experience as vital to your employability, there’s a lot to say for having at least basic skills in a variety of areas. With this strategy, you’re able to develop your skills and network within a professional environment and start to build your career from inside the industry. Ultimately, there is a lot to say for being really good at a particular skill as Trishan suggests. If you are one of the best at a particular skill then you will inevitably find opportunities to demonstrate that, so from that perspective I do agree that it is another option for trying to build experience and develop in a career in the sports digital industry. 

I loved hearing about Trishan’s experience working at the AFL. As arguably the largest sporting entity in the country, the strategies the AFL uses for the marketing of it’s ticket sales is a great insight into how these large organisations function. I particularly found Trishan’s explanation of the way the AFL uses sophisticated targeting strategies to ensure their advertisements are customer specific and financially efficient. As Trishan explains, one of the key values of paid media is being able to direct your advertisement content directly towards those who its most relevant for.  Trishan describes how the AFL use data generated from users visiting club websites, interacting with certain social media posts and previous customers to direct who can see specific ads. The importance of data analytics and generation is a really interesting side of the digital industry and I think is a role that will continue to grow in status as the online environment grows ever more relevant. 

Trishan and I also discussed the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the AFL and sport more generally. As the Australia has gone into lockdown, and Melbourne from the rest of the country it has greatly impacted the AFL’s ticket revenue. As one of its primary revenue streams, obviously this has damaged the financial viability of the season. Despite this the league has continued in unique circumstances which has forced the AFL to innovate and get creative. I really enjoyed listening to what Trishan had to say about the lack of innovation in the broadcasting of matches. In particular I thought his point about how the success the AFL has had in the past, including record attendance numbers last year, has allowed the AFL to avoid innovation or change decades. With COVID-19, the AFL are now in a situation where what they have done in the past is not going to work, and it’s up to them to develop new ways for people to consume the game and the AFL’s content in order to continue to drive with success. 

I’d like to say a massive thank you to Trishan for his time and advice. I really enjoyed our chat, and after reflecting on the things we talked about I think there are a lot of opportunities for people in the digital space to present new and creative ideas to the AFL that could help get someone that foot in the door. Make sure to check out our full chat on Apple Podcasts and Spotify and leave a review while you’re there! 

Proactively differentiating yourself in today’s job market with Reuben Williams

In the latest episode of the Digital Rookie Podcast. I sat down with Reuben Williams. If you’re looking for a career in sport then you’ll know who Reuben is, founder of career development platform SportsGrad and co-host of the very successful SportsGrad Podcast. Reuben was made redundant from his role at Cricket Australia following major turnover in alignment with the Covid-19 pandemic impacting the sports industry. Despite this, Reuben took the opportunity of having time on his hands and spent 8 weeks down at the beach developing the structure for what SportsGrad has now become. 

My first key taking from talking with Reuben was the way in which he was able to make the most of the opportunities University provided him and how he used them to tangibly develop his career and build his skill set. Reuben was made president of the Deakin University Sports Society (DUSS) and as a result of his hard work, clever networking and persistence, was able to grow the society exponentially. In doing so, this gave Reuben a clear example of his proficiency in management  that he was able to then take forward in job interviews as evidence of his skills and experience. On a personal level, this was something that resonated with me in particular as I feel as though I didn’t take full advantage of opportunities throughout my university degree. Thus, in agreement with the lessons I’ve taken from my discussion with Reuben, if you are reading this and are still enrolled in a university degree; make sure to put yourself out there and utilise the resources university provides as a career development pathway outside of your studies. 

Another really important lesson from Reuben’s journey so far is the benefits of proactively differentiating yourself in the current professional landscape. Differentiating yourself is something that I’ve discussed in past podcast episodes, however I believe Reuben’s SportsGrad story really exposes the benefits that can come with demonstrating your passion and interest in the sports industry. SportsGrad started for Reuben as a solution to one of the issues that arose with DUSS as he was finding people were unable to attend some of the networking events put on by the club. As a result, Reuben began recording interviews with professionals in the sports industry. Consequently, he began building this brand as a resource for students who weren’t able to attend events, but also as a means of extending his own personal network. One of the extremely positive outcomes of this was the opportunity to interview the President of the FFA in Russia during the 2018 World Cup. In the time that Reuben was employed at Cricket Australia, SportsGrad was put to the side, however Reuben is now seeing the benefits of the hard work he did years beforehand as SportsGrad is again providing him with new ways of learning, exciting career opportunities, network growth and even potential income as a consultant to students looking to utilise his knowledge in career development. 

I really appreciate Reuben allowing me insight into his career development strategies as I feel as though I am at a similar stage of the career pathway as he was when he first developed SportsGrad. With Digital Rookie, I am hoping that I can demonstrate my utmost passion for the sports business industry, while also learning new skills and broadening my skillset in an attempt to constantly increase my employability. There are so many benefits that come with putting yourself out there and having tangible evidence of your interests and skills and Reuben’s success with SportsGrad is a clear example of this. Even after only 4 months of building the Digital Rookie Hub I can assure you that I have learnt an astronomical amount about the sports industry and what it takes to be a professional. Knowledge that I simply wouldn’t have if I hadn’t chosen to be proactive and follow the learnings of those like Reuben. 

If you haven’t had the chance to listen to my chat with Reuben then make sure to head to Apple Podcasts or Spotify and check it out. The SportsGrad Podcast is a great resource for young people and you can also find it on those platforms. Reuben and I are contactable on LinkedIn and I definitely recommend following @SportsGrad and @DigitalRookieHub on the socials!  

Thanks for reading and stay tuned for the next episode coming soon!

Creating your own opportunities with Scott Walton

Recently I sat down with Scott Walton in my latest episode of The Digital Rookie Podcast. Scott works in social media for the Victorian Racing Club, an opportunity provided to him as a result of working hard to become experienced and skilled in the industry. I wanted to do a summarising write up about what I learnt from Scott, and how those learnings can be applied tangibly in the hunt for a career in sport. If you haven’t listened to my chat with Scott, make sure to check it out on Spotify and the Apple Podcasts app! 

The main learning I got from Scott was his insight into the benefit of constantly seeking new opportunities and ways of improving yourself. In particular, his ability to consistently develop his career through gaining experience at a variety of different organisations and sports clubs. This is reflected in a comment he made to me post-recording about how he now struggles to know what experiences are best to put on his CV when applying for jobs. He has managed to get to a point that with many different experiences it can be difficult to know which ones are most relevant and most impressive. 

Another lesson that Scott made clear in his explanation of how he has gone about developing his career portfolio, is using the resources readily available to you to create a variety of features to your skill set that can differentiate you in the future. For example, Scott made reference to the way in which he has been able to slowly become more and more experienced in the use of Adobe Photoshop by using resources such as YouTube to learn features of the platform. The second step to this lesson is then being able to demonstrate those skills in a professional and interesting way, which he has also been able to do through his personal ‘side-project’, an Instagram account called The Highlights Club. 

I think for people wanting to get into the Sports Marketing industry, one of the most important factors that I have found benefited me, and have also benefited Scott, is becoming experienced as a result of your own passion and interest for sport or social media itself. Create an Instagram account, a fan page or even a podcast that can demonstrate to an employer that you are more dedicated, skilled and passionate about sport and digital marketing than anyone else applying for a job. If you wait for other people to provide a platform to give you experience then you’re most likely going to fall behind to those who are using those jobs to show off the skills and techniques they’ve learnt by themselves behind the scenes. 

Ultimately, Scott’s story from being in a small broadcasting class at Box Hill TAFE to now being involved in managing the social accounts of some of the biggest sports organisations in Australia reflects that with hard work anything is possible. Scott made it clear in my chat with him that it is super important to have a goal to work towards, and everyday is about getting a little bit closer to that goal. In the end, even if you don’t reach the goal exactly, the effort you’ve made will have taught you lessons and skills you wouldn’t have obtained otherwise. 

My Top Covid-19 Initiatives in World Sport

Hello everyone and welcome to today’s blog post which is my top Covid-19 implicated initiatives in world sport!

My first initiative is arguably the most creative. As the German Bundesliga has returned to play in recent weeks they have been able to innovate methods of getting the fans involved on match day even when they’re stuck at home. As a result, for a small fee fans were able to purchase a cut out picture of themselves that would sit in the seats of their favourite team’s stadium during the game! Borussia Monchengladbach’s Borussia Park was filled with fans despite regulations, making watching the game on TV a slightly more normal experience. With a combination of the cut outs filling seats and the stadium playing recordings of crowd chants over the loud speakers, matches were played under more of an atmosphere than that of an empty stadium. 

The second initiative that I found particularly awesome was how the Danish Football league used 42 metres of television screens to allow fans to watch their team play and show their support over Zoom. The world’s first virtual grand stand had 10,000 fans cheering on their team, accompanied with crowd noise recordings to make a truly creative means of getting fans back in sport during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Luckily for some sports, video games allow fans to watch and play their favourite sports even if the leagues are closed temporarily. For Formula 1 fans, the Virtual Formula 1 season on streaming website Twitch.tv has been a platform for the best drivers in the world to compete, and for fans to continue watching the drama. In particular, Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc has been able to grow his Twitch channel to nearly 450k followers and has since collaborated on video games with other world athletes like NBA’s Rudy Gobert and Brazilian soccer star Douglas Costa.

In a similar fashion, one of the highlights of isolation was the NBA Players NBA2k tournament. Like the Virtual Formula 1 season, this was a platform for some of the NBA’s top talent to show their skills using a controller. Broadcasted by ESPN, fans were entertained by their favourite players competing on the big stage, and even raging at their own team mates when in-game they weren’t able to live up to the expectations of the controlling player. A perfect example was LA Clippers’ Montrezl Harrell getting particularly angry at his own LA team mates in the game. 

AFL.com.au

My final favourite Covid-19 initiative is the AFL and Telstra collaboration for the AFL Dice League. This saw one of Australia’s favourite comedians Andy Lee commentate over a game of dice football between some of the AFL’s stars. The game itself is really simple, the players take turn to role the die and whoever roles a higher total scores more points. However it was the way in which this series allowed fans to gain insight into how the players were travelling in isolation that gave this initiative its value. Additionally, it did a pretty good job at satisfying the public’s need for something competitive to watch, supporting their favourite players represent their teams on the big stage of the Dice AFL Arena. 

If you have any other great sports initiatives that you particularly enjoyed then let me know! 

Thanks for reading 🙂 

Netflix and Sport…the future?

Welcome to today’s blog! I wanted to talk about something that has been particularly relevant in recent months, in particular in combination with Michael Jordan’s The Last Dance. 

In my opinion Netflix’s position as an on demand streaming platform has evolved significantly in the past few years. Initially Netflix was the one stop shop for every tv show and movie we wanted, especially as a more legal alternative to streaming content online. Everything changed once Netflix started developing their own ‘Netflix Originals’ brand. Exclusive to Netflix, the high quality of these shows has been able to differentiate the platform from it’s competitors and the success of these shows has transcended society, in particular through several sports documentaries. 

There are 3 sport documentaries that have been particularly impactful, The Last Dance, Formula 1’s Drive to Survive and Sunderland Till I Die. All 3 shows provide the viewer with an exclusive and deep insight into the behind the scenes of each sport. So what impact are these shows having on how people view sport? 

In a time where people are desperate for sport, The Last Dance – a recollection of the career of Michael Jordan, has created a new appreciation not only for Michael Jordan but Basketball itself. It will be incredibly interesting to see how The Last Dance will impact NBA viewing numbers, the growth of Chicago Bulls fan base and the appreciation of the career of Michael Jordan. The impact of the show online, a clear reflection of its popularity globally, had The Last Dance as one of the most talked about topics on social platforms for weeks on end. 

In a similar fashion, Formula 1 Drive to Survive has had a huge impact on Formula 1, just as Sunderland Till I Die has grown the Sunderland brand globally. The only difference, there has been more time for us to tangibly observe the ways in which the show has grown these sport’s audiences and fan engagement. More specifically, the F1 have cited the success of the Netflix series as being key in its growth among young fans, reporting earlier this year that 62 percent of new fans were under the age of 35. From Sunderland’s perspective, they were able to turn the devastation of back to back relegations into a television series that demonstrates the true nature of Sunderland as a club and an insight into the workings of a soccer club in the UK. It’s transparency to fans created improved rapport while also building a new fan base from the show itself. 

The obvious success of these sport documentaries has made me think about the potential role Netflix might play in the future of televising and broadcasting sport. Inevitably we will continue to see Netflix, and probably other streaming services, produce these high quality behind the scenes sport documentaries. We have already seen clubs begin to produce their own versions of these documentaries, even in the AFL. There is almost an argument in which these thrilling, dramatic and cinematic documentaries are more engaging and interactive than live sport itself. 

How often does a single sport steal the eyes of the entire globe like The Last Dance did? My answer – not very often. 

So is there a limit to Netflix’s role in sport? Could Netflix ever have a role in live broadcasting of sport? There is clearly a strong sport-interested audience who watch Netflix…so why not? 

Technology’s impact on the fan experience

Welcome to today’s Digital Rookie Blog. I have been inspired to briefly discuss and consider the impact of technology on the fan experience, in particular in conjunction with Covid-19 implications, but also as a consequence of the different types of fan experiences we are witnessing as technology progresses. 

This week Apple acquired ownership of an upcoming technology organisation called NextVR, a virtual reality developer with business ties to organisations such as the NBA. So what does Apple have up their sleeve? Is this investment purely a money making decision or does Apple see a genuine future for virtual / augmented reality? Apple’s ability to influence society with their products leads me to suggest that if they develop a product that relies on the use of virtual reality, then we may well see virtual reality becoming a genuine part of how we conduct our day to day tasks. Perhaps an Apple VR service could become as part of our lives as systems such as Siri or maps. 

This leads me into my next point of discussion, what are the opportunities that VR / AR present for engaging fans and creating a new experience in sport? In the past we have see AR used in some really cool ways. The Baltimore Ravens had an augmented reality black raven fly out of the sky and interact with their stadium. The Sydney Sixer’s used AR to do player signing announcements through their app. Realistically, sporting entities are only limited by resources and creative thinking in regards to the extent AR / VR can be used to develop unique and interesting fan experiences. 

Then there is the cross promotional opportunities, and in my opinion no one has done this better in the last few years than Fortnite. In Fortnite’s short history, they have been able to do global in-game events that have involved franchises such as Star Wars and exclusive live concerts performed by Travis Scott and Marshmello. So what collaborative content could sporting teams use to gain publicity and develop unique fan experiences? Since Covid-19 we have seen the relationship between sporting clubs and video games increase significantly, from players streaming on Twitch to the English Football Leagues doing a full FIFA 20 tournament between all the top teams. Is this the future on fan engagement? 

I’d love to know if you had any other examples of how technology is impacting how you’ve experienced certain events. Can you think of any additional ways we could see the integration of technology create unique fan experiences? 

should sport be returning?

Welcome to The Digital Rookie’s first Blog Post! Today’s post is about our first taste of sport upon return from the 9 week ban. 

The German Bundesliga, Germany’s national soccer league, kicked things off with 4 games on Saturday night (AEST) and there were a bunch of thoughts and issues that arose as a result of the viewing experience as a fan.

“Geisterspiele”, translated most literally to ‘Ghost Games’ was how journalists were referring to this spectacle, and it was safe to say that this was a pretty literal and realistic description of what I was watching.

Watching Borussia Dortmund play Schalke 04 in the first ever Rivierderby with no spectators involved a mixture of emotions. Firstly, thank goodness I finally had some live sport to watch after night after night of watching replays of old AFL games, Premier League Replays, Tennis highlight reels etc. But while I was sitting there in bed, ready to get stuck into it, I was left with a sense of emptiness.

For those of you who aren’t aware, the Rivierderby is one of Germany’s most uncivil and highly anticipated matchups.  Entrenched in the history of the area, this derby divides familes, cities and couples. I was recently in Gelsenkirchen to see Schalke play live, and met a diehard Shalke family in a fan bar before the game. Andrea, the mother of the family explained to me that the hatred they have for Dortmund extends so far that she will not communicate with her Dortmund supporting sister for the entire week leading up to the Rivierderby. Last season, the Rivierderby provided us with one of the most entertaining and atmospheric games in recent history. Dortmund went into half time 4-0 up, however thanks to the support of Schalke’s passionate travelling support they were able to salvage a draw and come back to 4-4. This is a pure reflection of the impact of fans on building anticipation and atmosphere at these kinds of games, yet here we were watching this bitter rivalry being played under no atmosphere with none of the people who it means most to…the fans. 

This empty feeling extended even further, from the sheer silence of the stadium in anticipation of the first whistle, the raw sounds of coaches yelling at their players from the bench and the socially distanced goal celebrations accompanied by a distinct lack of noise.

So going forward how can we expect to see an improvement of atmosphere despite no crowds for the foreseeable future?

What kind of initiatives can be taken in order to do so?

Let us know what you think in the comments below!