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

3 marketing mistakes to overcome when courting prospective customers

Marketing that urges respondents to ‘buy now’ is a little like asking someone to marry you on your first date. At any time, only 3 per cent of the market is looking for what you’re selling, so the chances of your date randomly being ‘The One’ is pretty slim.

Sabri Suby

Founder, King Kong

Why are we dubious about deep learning?

The prospect of deep learning gives those of us in the industry something to get really excited about, and something to be nervous about, at the same time.

Katja Forbes

Founder and chief, sfyte

Why you can’t afford to fail at CX in 2019

In 1976 Apple launched. The business would go on to change the game, setting the bar for customer experience (CX). Seamless customer experience and intuitive designs gave customers exactly what they wanted, making other service experiences pale in comparison.

Damian Kernahan

Founder and CEO, Proto Partners

Where does the claim that 2 million Australians have tested come from ? Anecdotal information suggests that this is way off the mark.

David Andersen

DNA-based marketing: The next big thing?

Read more

Thank you for the info , being part of a digital marketing agency in kerala , this proved handy and get to know with upcoming trends. htt...

Dotz Web Technologies

Predictions: 9 digital marketing trends for 2019

Read more

So who then is correct? The Research or The skilled Digital people.

Anene

Report reveals Australia faces digital skills shortage

Read more

The blogs are really appreciable and one can trust the knowledge and information provided in the writing.The article you do produce on a ...

Prince Arora

5 brand strategy lessons from Gelato Messina

Read more

Thanks for sharing! Meet the Softcrylic team at Adobe Summit 2019. This team works with a broad range of clients helping solve complex bu...

Anderw Hagel

What Richard Branson has to say about experience delivery, leadership and disruption

Read more

Latest Podcast

More podcasts

Sign in