Mobile technologies, stadia connectivity and digital infrastructure improvements are all enhancing the sports fan experience, especially during lulls in the action on game day. Some of these technologies serve as fan engagement tools, creating brand new opportunities for interactive solutions during live events.
Live-event fan experience and marketing strategies are changing rapidly to take advantage of mobile, social and digital technologies. And new technologies are emerging, such as real-time interactive gaming experience for large audiences.
Crowd and gaming software Uplause is one of these new technologies, designed and developed for live events. In this installment of my series on Data Innovators in Sports & Entertainment, Uplause EVP of Global Business Development and co-founder Heikki Aura talks about how the company makes live events interactive—and gamified—with its crowd engagement technologies and platform.
Kaan Turnali: How was the Uplause idea born?
Heikki Aura: Our founders and core team’s background is in mobile games and applications. Few years ago we started to think why stadia experience is still stuck in the past and not taking advantage of the latest technologies and digital tools. We then started working on our patented Uplause Entertainment System for stadia. We did couple of test events and they proved to be slam dunks!
Since then our products have been used in over 20 countries worldwide engaging millions of fan in the biggest properties and brands of the sport and entertainment business from Madison Square Garden to Tokyo Dome to AT&T Stadium. Our mission is to make live event experience interactive and gamified and help sport properties and brands to utilize the most effective way—social—to engage with fans.
We also measure rigorously the impact of Uplause. Through numerous researches we have been able to identify that fans remember three to five times better brands that were doing interactive activation versus passive and static. It is quite logical; being part of it creates a much more lasting memory footprint. In most cases the crowd participation rate to Uplause product is between 60 to 90 percent. I think brands are starting to realize that, instead of just buying reach and theoretical number of eyeballs, they should invest in activations that actually get noticed and remembered.
KT: How does Uplause leverage data and help change the fan experience and sponsorship?
HA: Data is really the core part of our DNA. We are the pioneers and leaders in using crowd energy (sound levels, decibels) to create gamified experiences, but also for analytics purposes. Everybody is talking about how good or bad the atmosphere was in a game, but nobody has quantified it and put that into visualized data format.
This is what we are doing now. It will open up a completely a new world for everybody. This data will be of value for the whole value chain: Teams can, for example, analyze whether their fans are more engaged in certain dates; leagues can compare different cities and franchises; media and TV can better bring fans closer to the event etc.
Understanding and quantifying crowd energy and atmosphere allows producing better live events where decisions are driven by data. This product is now in beta use by a few hand-selected partners, such as Sporting Lisbon, French Football Federation, a leading NBA team, a leading Premier League team. We also want to mash up this data with other data, and we are currently talking with several companies about it.
One example how fans can benefit from this data is our integrated stadium decibel reader system. One NFL team said to us when they had taken Uplause into use that Uplause may have won the game for them because their fans were so into it and loud! Now we are getting inquiries from places like Brazil, Australia and Spain, where they say they want to compare their fans to North American fans. Uplause also enables broadcasting the crowd energy and atmosphere from a live event to millions of TV viewers. It is very exciting data and we believe our global footprint and understanding is a huge asset here.
KT: What are some of the projects that you are working on?
HA: As a truly global company we always have something new happening across globe, but just to highlight few recent ones: working with French Football Federation and French National Team, the host of UEFA EURO16, being part of the NHL All Star Game 2015 and NHL Stadium Series Game at the Levi’s Stadium.
One particular has been Dallas Cowboys, team that was the first NFL team to implement Uplause integrated dB system. They are a great organization and we love working with them. We share the passion for continuous improvement and always putting fans first.
I can also tell you that we have just put out to App Store our own Uplause Live Event Photo and Video App. It is the most contextual app for sport and music events allowing fans to capture, record, and share unique moments in a completely new fashion. The App will also be a major crowdsourcing tool for event data.
Data Innovators in Sports and Entertainment Series: