Digital transformation is now about taking ownership of fan engagement in house, says Ferre

January 31 – The digital focus within football marketing started as being all about web sites and building social media numbers on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. But there has been a strategic shift and while the social media platforms are still important it is the new fan engagement platforms that are making the marketing difference.

“It is all related to fan engagement which is at the core of the matter. How do you communicate to a vast majority of supporters of clubs, especially in the world’s top 20 clubs, who are not in the city or the country?” says Juli Ferre Nadal, formerly with Barcelona, AS Monaco, and FIBA before joining Tally Technology to run its European expansion.

“This space has been given away to social media platforms and everyone jumped into that. We are now trying to reverse that,” said Ferre. “Clubs have fans all over the world who they know nothing about.”

Ferre has been at the heart of the digital transformation taking place across football for 15 years. Now he has joined Tally which was originally founded as a free-to-play prediction game for brands, sports teams, leagues and media companies, but has evolved into a fan activation platform enabling sports rights holders to drive fan engagement and retention.

Ultimately the platform is designed to create new revenue streams through sponsorship activations, player conversion and data creation.

“Monetising the fan is an obsession but before that you need to be in a relationship with them. You have to give them value before asking for something,” says Ferre.

“Covid made people realise how important this is. How clubs and leagues build relationships with fans, how they create a relationship, how fans consume content and how clubs can create something around it.”

Tally’s solution is based on gamification, to create games and create a reason for fans to visit the club.

“It is now about direct to fan/consumer. Why do you need an intermediary (like social media) to do this. It is also about how you can plug in sponsors so they connect to the fans,” said Ferre.

“Clubs have to be realistic. If they don’t have a huge audience they won’t have the same volume of responses, but they can still have a super-engaged fan base.

“They shouldn’t waste time trying to be Barcelona but focus on a local, regional or national basis. There are digital solutions for every kind of objective.”

One of those solutions has been exploring the opportunities of fan tokens and NFTs. That is not something the Tally offer but Ferre says it is part of the landscape despite the recent scepticism.

“Fan tokens will evolve into something that will deliver more and more value. It is going somewhere, it is not at its final destination yet. Ownership, more fan involvement, Web3, there are ways they can evolve.”

In the US, Tally’s home base, the focus is often local, even with the big teams. In contrast in Brazil the activation has been with clubs and brands on a national scale.

The concentration of effort is on creating games every fan can play from prediction games to quizzes. The games are easy and engaging to get involved with. The basic game is a prediction game based on the score or top scorer, depending on the sport.

Games can be pushed during matches to get more interaction. They also generally open three days before with click and answer questions. The games can be lined into other media, including broadcast.

Tally is increasing its conversations with European clubs and leagues following the success it has had in Brazilian football where a promotion with Ambev’s Brahma brand proved to be one of the company’s most successful marketing activations in terms of over redemption.

Ferre says that clubs in Europe are changing. With new investors and private equity  funds coming into the game there is a change being forced towards gathering and using data, which is opening the doors to solutions like Tally.

Last summer Tally built a prediction game for each of the 16 matches of the Concacaf women’s W Championship with the aim to increase the interest of the fan and incentivise them to watch the whole event.

The game was composed of prediction questions for each match with pre-game questions and questions launched at half-time, so people watching the matches would have the opportunity to experience real-time gamification using a second screen.

Concacaf was able to add thousands of users to its database generating opportunities for additional promotions with these fans. Tally found that around 40% of the fans playing in each game were returning players with a number of players playing every game even if their country was not involved in a specific match.

About 70% of the players of each game answered the pre-game and second half questions.

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