Our series Building a Network explores the ways ISM Connect’s technology is creating fan experiences that elevate brand engagement at live sports and entertainment events. In the first post of the series, we look at some of the early learnings from the Allegiant Airlines Network, a first-of-its-kind opportunity that connects brands with minor league baseball fans.
With an average attendance cost for a family of four sitting at $60 and over 40 million tickets sold in 2018, Minor League Baseball is one of the most engaging live sports formats in existence today. The sport also casts a wide net, attracting attendees from all life stages — families, young professionals and senior citizens. As the Allegiant Airlines Network expands into ballparks across the country, minor league teams are gaining the ability — almost overnight — to introduce new opportunities to their current and potential sponsors. A short three months into the deployment, here is what teams are saying.
Creating an exponential lift on impressions delivered
Without downplaying the age-old tradition of the outfield sign, it is no surprise that the Allegiant Airlines Network is going to deliver an astronomically higher number of impressions to a minor league baseball sponsor.
“It’s a simple math problem, really,” says Bryan Maywood, GM of Sales for the Nashville Sound. “We would have had maybe one opportunity to run a campaign in-game on the big screen before we launched the Allegiant Airlines Network. Now, with ten screens in the park, you’re talking over 20,000 opportunities to reach fans over the course of the season versus maybe 70 times on a full-season campaign through a jumbotron. This has opened up a whole new digital opportunity for us to engage with brands in a much more powerful way.”
Doubling down on digital activations
The same sentiment exists around the in-game campaigns themselves. Previously a digital activation campaign like a text-to-win might be played once one in-game through a jumbo tron. Now, fans can access that campaign for three to four hours in almost every part of the park and the audience impressions increases exponentially. The numbers continue to roll in — impressions, engagements, opt-ins, conversions. This is a big win for minor league teams and their sponsors.
“Where we’ve had the most traction is allowing brands to create enter-to-wins,” says Maywood. “That’s been the busiest conversation piece around this network.”
Customizing corporate hospitality experiences
The Allegiant Airline Network has also come in handy as a value-add for corporate sponsors in that it creates a personalized touch point for hospitality events. Imagine a welcome message for corporate clients that features a company logo, maybe a video featuring the company’s CEO. This content can run in the loop through during a ballgame or on an off-day.
“For our group outings, we have started a program where corporate partners can show a still graphic or a video message welcoming their employees out to the ballpark,” says Sean Olson, GM of Sales for the Omaha Stormchasers. “Not only is that a good message for employees, it shows the fans that the sponsor — Mutual of Omaha for example — is giving back to the community.”
Inviting regional and national sales conversations
Once minor league teams are able to grasp the full value of the Allegiant Airlines Network as an opportunity for their current sponsors, conversations begin to change. Locally based corporations can leverage the network to reach their demographic in more than just one ballpark. In Nashville, with headquarters or large offices for brands such as Amazon, Dollar General and HSC, the possibilities of a regional or national spend are very real.
“Bigger picture, we aren’t just having a conversation with a brand to sponsor here in Nashville,” says Maywood. “We are talking to brands about running a campaign across their corporate footprint. We can leverage the network so that the same activation and fulfillment is happening the same exact way across ten, twenty, thirty ballparks. I view it as a huge win for the league.”
Justifying spend from new budgets
Historically, minor league sales teams have worked with CMOs and marketing representatives at the sponsor level, and now even that touch point has changed. The capabilities of the Allegiant Airlines Network is seeing team sales representatives invited to meetings with media buyers — those who typically purchase television and radio on behalf of a brand. These keepers of corporate dollars look at the new network as an extension of their larger media buys, and that’s a great thing for minor league baseball. Talent acquisition budgets are yet another new resource for sponsorship.
“One of our first sales on the screens was with Paypal for a talent acquisition campaign,” says Olson. “We never had the avenue to go after the talent acquisition side before. In sharing what Paypal is doing, we’re now able to have conversations with new brands. To me, it’s as valuable as putting something up on TV or radio. It provides us the avenue to dip in to new buckets of money from a corporation.”
Appealing to a larger pool of advertisers
The ability to earn more impressions with custom campaigns is a win for minor league teams, and with that ability comes incremental revenue through current and new corporate partners. From the local level, it’s a modern offering that didn’t exist before. From the regional or national level, it’s being able to spread a brand message across the corporate footprint.
“We’ve sold three new deals already,” says Olson. “The more that we get our decision makers out to the ballpark to see the screens, the more opportunity that will come. It’s not just a branding opportunity. It’s a welcome message, it’s your CEO on the screen, a commercial that ties in with TV and radio. The revenue generation is infinite.”
Amie Sheridan is a content strategist serving sports tech startups. Her work has appeared in Sports Business Journal.