How a new Web platform and digital technology are helping the AFL increase fan engagement

Traffic up 34 per cent according to Australian Football League (AFL) organisation

AFL Media head of operations Michael Solomon.
AFL Media head of operations Michael Solomon.

A new Web platform, stronger digital strategy and taste for technology innovation are all playing key roles in the Australian Football League’s (AFL) efforts to lift interactive and timely fan engagement. And according to the group behind the game, they’re also opening up new ways to raise awareness and drive interest in the sport.

The AFL has increased website traffic by 34 per cent since the introduction of a Web content management system (CMS) in March 2013. The OpenText CMS platform was introduced to ensure that if an AFL fan is visiting the site using their PC, smartphone or tablet, content is optimised for that device.

According to AFL Media head of operations, Michael Solomon, the biggest benefit since the rollout has been the increase of “trustworthy and timely” news about AFL players and clubs.

“The website is often the first port of call for fans in the morning and has been designed so they can get a snapshot of the AFL news and highlights, while being able to delve more deeply into a topic of interest,” he commented. For example, fans can find out more about fantasy tipping on AFL matches and where to buy tickets to games.

According to Solomon, the website now averages 4 million unique visitors per month during the AFL season. The most popular sections are match day, video, news and fixture information.

“The trusted [news] resource is something we wanted from the outset. We tend not to sensationalise anything, we stick to the facts and present a story that is easily digested,” he said. “This is underpinned by traditional journalistic quality across the written content and video. This has been our strategy from the outset and the numbers suggest we are achieving excellent results.”

Appealing to fans

While the AFL site may boast healthy traffic numbers, Solomon acknowledged its marketing teams have gone on the offensive in New South Wales and Queensland to try and drag punters away from popular National Rugby League (NRL) and rugby union codes.

“From a marketing perspective, we have very targeted strategies from participation through to attendance, which have successfully drive interest in the AFL. According to Repucom data, we have seen double-digit growth in AFL interest from NSW and Queensland over the last four years,” said Solomon.

Social media is also a big part of the AFL’s digital media strategy. Its Facebook page has 627,000 likes, while the official AFL Twitter account has 221,000 followers.

“We’ve had players; an umpire and the coach of every club take control of AFL Twitter to chat directly with the fans. As an example, the coaches were put through a `press conference’ by the fans days before the season began, where they had the opportunity to discuss which players were taking on new roles, who was likely to debut, and what they do away from footy,” Solomon said.

Getting technical

Aside from the website and social media engagement, the AFL is branching into wearable technology. Fans who own a Pebble smartwatch have been able to receive updates about the game on their watch since May 2014. The AFL Live app lets users receive real time scores and updates to their smartwatch.

Despite Google Glass not being commercially available in Australia yet, Telstra and Seventh Beam developed an app called AFL Glassware in September 2013 for the 2014 season. The app allows fans to choose a live game commentary or have the commentary translated to text via the optical display. Customers can also view scores and stats while watching the match.

Follow Hamish Barwick on Twitter: @HamishBarwick

Follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia, take part in the CMO Australia conversation on LinkedIn: CMO Australia, or join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CMOAustralia

Signup to CMO’s new email newsletter to receive your weekly dose of targeted content for the modern marketing chief.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Blog Posts

Non-linear transformation: The internal struggle

Let’s face it, transformation is messy. Every business is different, with a set of specific challenges based on a mixture of external (the market, competitors, regulation) and internal factors (technology, people and process investments over time).

Neil Kelly

Partner, transformation, Wunderman Thompson

7 ways to champion a human centred design culture

Human Centred Design (HCD) has come a long way in the last decade with many forward-thinking organisations now asking for HCD teams on their projects. It’s increasingly seen as essential to unlocking innovation, driving superior customer experiences and reducing delivery risk.

Shane Burford

Head of research and design, RXP Group

Building a human-curated brand

If the FANG (Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, Google) sector and their measured worth are the final argument for the successful 21st Century model, then they are beyond reproach. Fine-tuning masses of algorithms to reduce human touchpoints and deliver wild returns to investors—all with workforces infinitesimally small compared to the giants of the 20th Century—has been proven out.

Will Smith

Co-founder and head of new markets, The Plum Guide

It's a useful info for small businesses owners. We can't live without mobile apps. They are so helpful! It's hard to deny that.

Mae Davis

7 ways small businesses can benefit from mobile apps

Read more

Hi Jennifer,Fascinating read about design-led companies!If you would like to learn more, our Design Thinking and Innovation programme mig...

Andrea Foster

How to spot a ‘design-led’ versus ‘design-fed’ company

Read more

ABC web-site not easy to use/navigate. Even getting this far in sign-on to ABC My Space was problematic - it was asking for my password,...

Vee.

How the ABC used an online community to help build a movement

Read more

Thank you for your feedback, Astha! Always appreciated.

Vanessa Skye Mitchell

5 things marketers should know about data privacy in 2020

Read more

Hey Vanessa, thanks for providing us the things marketers should know about data privacy. This was really an informative post.

astha sharma

5 things marketers should know about data privacy in 2020

Read more

Latest Podcast

More podcasts

Sign in