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Exclusive: Marvel Stadium Digital Activations Creating Fan Engagement

K
omo Digital CEO, Joel Steel, spoke with Ministry of Sport ahead of the 2021 AFL Grand Final, reflecting on the integration of digital activations throughout the 2021 season.

Discussing the creation of the Marvel Stadium Fan Hub, working with MKTG, which utilised a mobile web app to engage fans either at the stadium or at home with gamified content, quizzes, and real-world prizes, Steel said the fan hub allowed the AFL to create engagement with fans around Australia.

“The Marvel Stadium Fan Hub was a way for Marvel Stadium to give back at the start of the season to the fans, entice them to come along to games, and add more value to games,” Steel told Ministry of Sport.

“Obviously in COVID times, everyone was unsure what it would be like, and we didn’t even know if crowds could come to games, so it was really important for Marvel Stadium to add more value and start that two-way conversation with fans.

“One of the big things we do and promote is making sure you’re finding ways to create super fans, and by doing that, there’s all sorts of other commercial benefits that come with that for the stadium, teams or sponsors, but you have to start with the fans.

“The whole premise of the fan hub was to create something highly engaging, create that two-way conversation with the fans and add value for them, not just through games but through digital coupons with rewards in stadium giving away things like free fries at half-time.

“The general brief was ‘let’s create the most engaging digital experiences for the fans and ways for them to engage with the AFL game live and in the breaks.’

“We had close to 70% of all fans that landed on the Marvel Stadium Fan Hub engage with the gamified content and competitions, and that’s a huge rate of engagement.

“We were giving away prizes and we had a 70% coupon redemption rate live, so being able to have that live value add for fans to redeem instantly is a huge benefit for fans.,” he said.

Reflecting on the year and the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on in-stadium activation, Steel said: “Being able to create the versatility and flexibility of the Komo platform allows any sports team to go from an in-stadium activation to potentially a broadcast activation or social and digital activation.”

“What the learnings are from the season would be making sure whatever you’re creating digitally can be very quickly taken from an in-stadium big screen activation for example, to something just digital and social media led.

“It’s really put a focus on digital, you can’t look past it.

“It’s become a must-have opposed to a ‘should we do something with digital’.

“For sponsors as well, everything starts with the fan, but the industry is led by sponsors and giving them the ability to sell into the fans.

“Sponsors are wanting their measurable ROI (return-on-investment), especially when there hasn’t been the ability to connect with fans in-stadium.

“They’re looking for new ways to connect and sell at the end of the day to AFL fans, so digital for a lot of the year has been the only way to do that.

“What a lot of brands have worked out is that because they’ve pushed into more of a digital strategy, they’ve worked out how to get measurable results from digital.

“They’ve had to take a risk on digital, and now they’ve done it, they’ve realised there are so many platforms out there to deliver a highly engaging experience, whether you’re in a stadium, across a broadcast, or at home through socials.

“Everyone is on their phones, so why not take advantage of that and provide them with something fun, tangible and create two-way conversations to drive commercial benefits for brands as well,” Steel said.

When asked about the AFL’s digital activations during the finals series and the Grand Final, Steel said the league holds a lot of responsibility when the finals begin.

“We’re not involved with the in-stadium activations [at the AFL Grand Final at Optus Stadium], but we’re doing some stuff with Carlton-United Breweries outside of stadiums,” Steel told Ministry of Sport.

“During the season, the teams control a lot more of what happens with fan engagement throughout the game, and the AFL takes over a lot in the finals and they’ve got so many things going on in-stadium with live acts and entertainment.

“For the city of Perth, it’s huge for us and there’s a huge buzz around the city with everyone excited,” he said.