Why sports? Kiernan believes it was a market with tremendous potential. “There is a large capital investment to buying all of these screens and networking them all together,” he says. “From our point of view, there is no more valuable real estate in the world than in these venues. The two biggest passion points that marketers want to tap into are sports and music. It’s kind of a global phenomenon.”
It is also an industry that can utilize Arena Media’s product even as it changes. “Just about anybody we speak to in the marketplace says what we are doing makes perfect sense and that it is the way the world is going,” Kiernan notes. “It is not a matter of if, but how fast.” In fact, the co-CEO thinks parties developing venue marketing plans might look more to his product. He says, “I think they are asking, ‘Do I need to put any static posters in my concourses. Is going all digital the way to go? If I go invest in all of these static dioramas, will they be outdated in a year or two?'”
Scott Epstein, a former senior vice president for marketing partnerships with Madison Square Garden, who currently serves as a consultant to Arena Media sees digital billboard advertising taking a major foothold for two reasons. “One, it’s a new and innovative platform,” he notes. “Alot of arenas, particularly the older ones are not up to speed in terms of digital technology. So it enhances traditional and maybe antiquated marketing platforms. Two, it’s an additional revenue opportunity for the teams. The nature of the digital platform is so flexible and scalable that you can expand your inventory load by using this platform.”
In fact, the company could be on the cusp of a new trend. “A lot of advertisers are interested digital media,” says Epstein. “They find it to be an efficient, effective, scalable and affordable means to speak to sports attendees. There is an interactive component which advertisers are asking for and this is a platform which is emerging which gives advertisers what they want. At the same time, teams and facilities can monetize it.”
From a fan standpoint, Arena Media’s platform contains a unique engagement feature which separates it from traditional displays. “It is also a component to the game experience,” says Epstein. “They are not just running ads on this loop. They are running content. The content is germane to that local market and particular team. So it is also being used as an entertainment device.”
Waiting time can mean dollars and Epstein believes that this is one of the keys to the product’s success. “Coming from the facilities side typically there is a two to three minute wait to get a soda or beer,” he notes. “People often are standing in the concourses and this product offers content to capture their attention which again monetizes the opportunities for the teams and facility. For the fan, at least it creates content while they are engaged in a waiting position. Often time concourses are a space that is not very engaging to consumers and this creates a little more life and energy for the teams and consumers.”
Dave Decina, vice president of corporate partnerships for the New York Islanders, also sees benefits in this product. “Our building is an older facility and helps dress it up a little bit with a little more modernized signage.” explains the executive, whose franchise plays at the Nassau Coliseum on Long Island. “It’s a creative idea because what they are able to do is sell a number of different markets simultaneously, which is something that everyone desires to do.”
He is also impressed with the fan-friendly component of the displays. “It also provides a service to our fans because it provides future schedule information, upcoming promotions and some highlights of games,” Decina notes.
As technology becomes a vital component of the advertising and marketing bottom-line, companies which utilize it properly can become a major player within the industry. Arena Media’s digital platform marketing is changing how ads and content reach fans in arenas and stadiums. It may also help the company lead the way in developing the sports segment of the market.