by Tom McDonnell, Co-founder & CEO,
As sports and entertainment organisations turn to direct-to-consumer strategies, interactive experiences are becoming a core feature of their digital ecosystem. It’s easy to see why. These engaging, fan-oriented experiences drive users to owned platforms in the thousands, allowing brands to connect directly with audiences.
Forming this connection is the first step in a direct-to-consumer strategy. By creating a direct relationship with your audiences, you can drive high engagement volumes, attract new visitors, and keep them connected to your brand. However, a genuinely successful direct-to-consumer strategy will transform that engagement into conversions, driving revenue from subscriptions, sign-ups, merchandise sales, or any other form of purchase your brand offers.
Interactive experiences feed into these revenue-driven D2C strategies in four ways:
They increase the volume of engagement, building loyalty and giving you more opportunities to share your messaging
They allow you to gather first-party data to feed into your Customer Data Platform for improved targeting and personalisation
They offer additional sponsorship value with organic ad placements
They enable you to retarget your audience, driving conversion and commercialisation
Increase engagement at scale
With so many always-on digital services available to audiences today— from streaming services to social media, apps to podcasts— it’s not always easy for brands to break through and be heard above the noise. The fact is that if you want your audience’s attention, you have to earn it, and that means providing them with an interactive experience that’s entertaining, high-quality, and unique.
If you’re looking to reach as many people as possible, your interactive experience will also need to be scalable. This means that you need to use the content you already have and create experiences from scratch to maximise potential engagement value without breaking the bank.
Audiences value the opportunity to get involved, whether that’s by voting, participating in a livestream Q&A, or proving their knowledge in polls and quizzes. Being actively engaged in content is a far more powerful experience than consuming it passively.
Nickelodeon has demonstrated the power of engagement with their Screens Up app, used as a companion to their linear TV content. By creating polls, quizzes, and interactive AR moments, they successfully captured their audience’s attention on their digital platform. They also drove linear viewing figures as the interactive experience brought new viewers to the channel.
Gather first-party data efficiently
Audiences in the digital landscape want to be entertained. They actively seek worthwhile experiences to participate in. So if your interactive experience can offer them genuine value, they are likely to engage with it— and they’re often willing to share first-party data to do so.
Not only is this of great value to your Data and Marketing teams, but it also widens your horizons in terms of conversion opportunities. You can use that first-party data for retargeting purposes or to personalise your omnichannel experience.
But with the right digital interactive experience, you can also put it to work straight away. If a viewer has given you their name, you can transform the merchandise they see to display personalised products ready for purchase. Or, if your conversion goal is to increase sign-ups to your video-on-demand platform, you can use first-party data gleaned from polls to show the user subscription-only content tailored to the topics you know they’ll love.
IMG Arena’s use of Event Centres is a prime example of how interactive experiences can deliver against data capture goals. In exchange for a simple sign-up, IMG gives fans access to exclusive content and a unique, gamified experience. This gated experience is so valuable that users are happy to share details to be part of the action, creating a powerful driver of first-party data.
Increase sponsorship value
Encouraging your audience to spend time with you on your owned digital platform is an excellent opportunity to expand your sponsorship and advertising inventory. Not only does this open doors to generate millions more impressions, but it guarantees you can offer advertisers specific data about who their content is reaching. And this information is far more robust than many other channels. When an advertiser places an ad with you, they can know they’re getting access to an engaged audience full of genuine, committed fans.
You can drill down even further by making use of your first-party data to offer specific targeting opportunities. Suppose you know your quizzes are a hit with tech enthusiasts under 24, while your videos perform better with music lovers aged 35 and over. In that case, you’re in a great position to share that data with advertisers and offer them access to granular audiences with real, demonstrable ROI.
Bear in mind that you don’t want your sponsorship placements to disrupt or detract from the overall fan experience. LFC’s Match Centre showcased how successfully this can be achieved, with organic, dynamic ad placements available for sponsors that fit seamlessly into the overall content feed and felt like a part of the experience, not a bolt-on sales opportunity.
Drive merchandise sales and revenue
If you’re looking to boost the revenue generated by your content, interactive experiences are an excellent resource. Whether live or on-demand, adding clear calls to action into your content and building the sales process into the experience itself can help guide your audience towards that all-important decision-making moment.
Shopping experiences that rely on content shouldn’t disrupt the overall experience. By highlighting items shown in a video, for example, and offering viewers the option to bookmark them for later, brands can draw a clear link between the content and the call to action without taking the user out of the experience to make a purchase.
Alternatively, you might choose to embed the shop itself within the digital experience. ITV has exemplified this with their official merchandise shop, which sits within each of their TV Show Apps. As fans make their way through the experience, you can bring them through to the shop with calls to action located within the content feed or inside specific elements. Once they’ve arrived in the shop, fans can select items and complete a purchase without ever having to navigate away from the app itself. This approach has enabled ITV to incorporate an additional revenue stream into their on-demand content, generating hundreds of thousands of sales that they would otherwise not have achieved.