(National Sports Forum and Advent are proud partners of Front Office Sports)
In a world where fans have plenty of motivation to not attend live events, sports properties must find interesting ways to give fans Instagram-worthy moments at their venues.
John Roberson is the CEO of Advent, a company that works with college and professional sports properties to create in-venue experiences that help to connect fans to their favorite teams in new and memorable ways. He caught up with Russ Wilde at the National Sports Forum to discuss what that process looks like from their side.
Edited highlights appear below:
Differences between working with college properties and professional properties (1:05)
Roberson: “Reluctantly, they would tell you that pro sports is about 10 years in front of college sports. And that’s from a fan experience perspective, a sponsorship model perspective, a ticket inventory perspective. Steve Koonin, the CEO of the Atlanta Hawks, talked about the fact that he has, democratized the inventory within the Atlanta Hawks arena because he wants fans to be able to choose their level. That’s not occurred yet in college sports. There’s still a tiering of VIP luxury suites. It’s just interesting. Sponsors want to reach the average fan. Certainly some luxury brands want to want to reach out to that VIP, but on average sponsors want to reach the everyday fan. And so that’s some differences that we see between professional and college sports.”
On getting brand partners involved in projects (3:05)
Roberson: “Well first I want you to let the audience visualize three concentric circles and in one of those circles is the team, in one of those circles are the fans, in one of those circles are sponsors. And if you imagine that like a Venn diagram looking for where those circles overlap, that intersection is really important. We call it the value intersection, meaning sports teams, college properties can unlock a great deal of value if they understand that the fan is coming not for the sponsor, the fan is coming for a memorable elevated moment. We have the saying around our place that brand loyalty is forged in shared experiences. If sponsors will be very deliberate about finding where their brand promise connects with that of the sports team, the fan can really have an elevated and memorable engaging experience.”
On using technology to make spaces unique (9:06)
Roberson: “Technology is great and it’s troubling and like any development, if it’s taken to the extreme, it can be really troubling to the equation. We believe that technology is really driving fan behavior. So I want you to think about for a moment, 95% of young sports fans say that they use a second screen to watch sports. That’s really important. Why are they doing that? What are the insights that they’re developing from that second screen? What’s the deep dive that they’re doing? They don’t want you to imagine that 74% of millennials are creating their own content and say that they prefer their creative content over stock photography or stock video. Something that you know media folks know a lot about, right? So what you see is a generation that fully embraces technology but really wants to be their own content creators. And so what we have to do is we have to use technology to play to that.”
What keeps you up at night? (13:07)
Roberson: “What keeps me up at night is that the consumption behavior of the fan is always changing. Before we saw fans who are very content to sit in a bowl, sit in an arena, sit in their seats and consume a linear sporting event. Now, as we’ve been describing, we’re seeing fans who want to consume an experience on their screen. They want to create their own content. Maybe they want to be on a deck and have a cocktail with their friends or a beer with their friends being at the game, give them proximity to something purposeful. But it may not be the definition of their experience. And so what keeps me up at night is we have to constantly be asking the audience, asking the fan you’re trying to gain empathy for what do they want and how can we shape the experience to deliver to them that that’s a quest that we won’t be finished with? And so it helps us to really be on our toes.”