13th November 2018

Stadiums are Getting Smarter with IoT

Digital offerings are creating custom fan experiences and meaningful brand opportunities


If part of the thrill of attending the big game is sharing the moment (and the nachos!) with other like-minded fervent fans, stadiums are starting to pay attention and have begun offering a myriad of ways to magnify the camaraderie.


Advertisers need to step up to the plate


With the advent of smart stadiums adopting the Internet of things (IoT) and other digital offerings to improve user experiences, it’s a whole new ball game for fans. Done with the ultimate goal of improving fans engagement and enjoyment, this is proving to be a very beneficial time for advertisers to step up to the plate and co-create new experiences for fans.


And it seems to be paying off.


In Britain, for example, there has been a 7% increase over last years in-person game day attendance in spite of the tempting tugs from warm, comfortable couches, ubiquitous 4K TV screens and the close proximity to fully-stocked pantries.


That’s a real testament to the smart stadiums that have begun incorporating innovative ways to improve and extend game day for their fans.

According to Deloitte, “stadiums need to embrace a combination of team-created and third-party experiences, provide tools and data for fan retention, and ensure there are team-owned set of physical hardware, networking equipment, and software that powers arenas and enables in-arena experiences.”


With an estimated 12,000+ stadiums globally, many are turning to smart technologies in order to reinvent themselves as dynamic platforms, with fan experiences, offerings and capabilities that far exceed that of a traditional stadium. That means incorporating beacons, Wi-Fi access points, and things like dynamic real-time and targeted digitalization, all with the goal of improving and re-energizing the fan experience.


IoT is a real game-changer for stadiums and sponsors


Additionally, the data gleaned from these new stadium ecosystems allows stakeholders to provide new and tangible ways to increase sponsorship and brand collaborations. Adweek succinctly noted that when it comes to IoT, “by using machine learning and artificial intelligence, companies like Dell, Microsoft, Intel and IBM are testing how to turn boring numbers into interesting things.”


So, what exactly do these “interesting” things look like for fans and brands?


Smart stadiums in the wild


For any fan who wants to access real-time player stats, share game time moments, or try to find a parking spot near the venue, smart stadium initiatives like these are real game-changers:

  • Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta: AMB Sports & Entertainment partnered with IBM to provide 71,000 fans enough wireless access points to stay connected to the outside world and tweet, stream and share their stadium experience. The platform also handles all the audio and video throughout the stadium, feeding 2,000+ screens throughout the venue, creating innovative touchpoints for ad placements, and includes features to help fans navigate transportation, park their cars, buy tickets and find their way around the facilities. The apps are real-time and location-based, allowing the stadium to deliver relevant and personalized experiences for every fan.
  • Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California seats more than 65,000 spectators in two bowl-like structures. Beacons, IoT sensors and sophisticated mobile apps give fans their own personalized “digital butler” for the day; providing information on purchasing parking passes digitally, offering turn-by-turn directions to the visitor’s assigned lot, navigation to help fans quickly and easily find their seats, and features ensuring fans get the food and beverages they want, when they want them. With so many opportunities for fans to navigate the stadium experience online, Verizon offers several branded charging stations around the stadium, a perfect example of sponsorship that benefits its fans.
  • Tech companies like Nokia are helping stadiums reinvent and reenergize themselves too. Features include a pre-game text, inviting fans to download an app that helps them find a parking spot, share pictures online, lets them know how long the wait is at food concessions, and enables them to pay for souvenirs and other purchases with their smartphones.

Create brand collaborations that benefit all of the players


For sponsors and brands, the data gathered via smart stadium technologies allows them to offer targeted, compelling and customized fan-centric messaging and offers. For example, Acadia Technology Group notes that, “by integrating holistically with high-density WiFi, IoT and network virtualization, targeted placement of dynamic digital signage could include a number of monetization opportunities.” They go on to note that there are myriad opportunities for advertising networks to collaborate with vendor partnerships. These could be in the form of display ads or directing fans to in-stadium as well as after-game sales opportunities at key points in the stadium as part of a full content and business strategy. With endless digital opportunities, the emphasis is on creating custom moments that improve fan experiences.

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