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Exclusive: The Need For Digital Outsourcing In Sport

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n an exclusive interview with Ministry of Sport, newly created digital studio, Yellow Panther co-founder, Stuart Cope, discussed the gap in the sports industry for customised digital technology products.

Yellow Panther, which is based in both the UK and India, provides app and website development, augmented and virtual reality creation, gamification, 3D rendering, and ecommerce builds for clients across the sport and lifestyle sectors.

Speaking about the opportunity ahead for digital studios like Yellow Panther, Cope said the biggest challenge rightsholders face is being under resourced to effectively build an engaging digital brand.

“There’s less than 10% of sports brands and rightsholders with a digital team resourced enough to build and manage their own products effectively,” Cope told Ministry of Sport.

“The world of digital is so vast now and you don’t just have social media and a website, you have CRM, augmented reality, virtual reality, and ecommerce.

“There’s so many factors of digital that it’s unrealistic for a sports brand to have a team of 20, 30, or 40 people to activate each digital product to the standard it should be.

“They do require agencies to come in, build those products, manage them on behalf of the rightsholder and to do that in a way that’s cost effective but also ticks the needs of the organisation.

“Yellow Panther fills the void for a sports brand because we can offset that issue of resourcing.

“You look at a Tennis Australia, they’re really well resourced, have a great team and are very good at what they do, but if you go to a state-level team like an AFL or Cricket team, their marketing budget will be for anywhere between five and ten people.

“It’s unlikely you’ll have software engineers in that team so that’s where you need to outsource that work to a company like Yellow Panther.

“The great thing we’ve done is the team we’ve built have worked for multiple rightsholders; we’ve got experience of working at the cold face for sports brands.

“We understand the nuances and also the frustrations they have, and we hope to be an agency that can help them achieve their business objectives without being priced out of the market to do so,” he said.

Discussing what rightsholders are doing wrong in digital, Cope expanded further on resourcing to discuss how every product of an organisation’s digital need to be connected.

“Many rightsholders simply aren’t getting it right,” Cope said.

“You need to have a CRM system that pokes into every digital product.

“Brands need to understand who their consumer is, what content they engage with and how can they monetise effectively.

“A lot of rightsholders will build many digital products that don’t talk to one another in a succinct way.

“One of the Rajasthan Royals sponsors is called Tech Mahindra, a big tech company in India, and they’ve essentially built them a CRM platform.

“We built their website, their app, their games, their augmented reality and their shop, and it was really important for those five things to speak to the CRM system in a way that allows the Rajasthan Royals to understand who their audience is, what content they consume, and how often they consume it so they can refine their digital strategy.

“Any agency that goes into a sports brand needs to make sure every digital touchpoint talks to one another, and that first party data gives you a better understanding so you can activate your strategy and make sure all your products and content goes further.

“Fans don’t necessarily want more content; they want better content that’s more personalised to them.

“Sport’s a long way behind the entertainment and music industry, some are keeping up, but the majority aren’t.

“Like any sports brand, when your season starts, you’re in that firefighter mode just to get through the season and activate your strategy.

“When your season finished, usually your marketing and digital teams are completely shattered and its all about having a break, getting your strategy refined and ready for the next season.

“I’ve seen that in every sports brand I’ve worked at.

“It’s hard to be innovative, and that’s why I think it’s great for agencies to come in, test new ideas with these brands, sit down with them and showcase what they can build and how it fits within the business needs.

“Yellow Panther has essentially been set up to try help with innovation and ensure all your digital products talk to each other at the same time,” he said.

Cope also discussed how Yellow Panther is creating its own digital technology with sports brands in mind.

“We’re not just a digital studio, we are building a piece of technology we feel could be useful in the sports industry and we had our first sale this week,” Cope told Ministry of Sport.

“We’ve built a platform called Push and Pull.

“If you have an app, it allows you to push content to your audience to drive them back to your app.

“If you look at push notifications, generally you get a bar or an image, we’ve built a platform that allows any brand to send video content, audio content, polls, carousels, trivia.

“It gets users back on your app to engage with your content, and it’s a really cost effective product that can really be a game changer.

“We’ve essentially built a CMS system that anyone can use in 10-15 minutes, essentially drag and drop and not only does it allow you to send push notifications, it also allows you to send in-app notifications and in-app messages so you can reward your fanbase.

“If you’ve bought a new shirt from an Aussie Rules team, we can send a message saying ‘here’s 15% off your next purchase’.

“The second thing we’ve built is a video platform where grassroots players can tap into an organisations’ coaching structure.

“The Rajasthan Royals have taken up this technology, and any cricket player in the world can book coaching sessions with the Rajasthan Royals coaching team and then pay a small fee.

“What the technology allows you to do is either live video sessions or send video footage of yourself, voice recordings, or split screens.

“It’s a great way for grassroots players to tap into the world’s best coaches, when can a club player or junior player do that unless they are in a national program.

“It’s a cost-effective way for rightsholders to tap into their grassroots audience, use their coaches and drive incremental revenue throughout the year.

“Why send boring content when you can send rich content.

“Send better, richer content, you’ll make more money, and your audience will be more engaged,” he said.