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

Latest Videos

Conversations over a cuppa with CMO: Microsoft's Pip Arthur

​In this latest episode of our conversations over a cuppa with CMO, we catch up with the delightful Pip Arthur, Microsoft Australia's chief marketing officer and communications director, to talk about thinking differently, delivering on B2B connection in the crisis, brand purpose and marketing transformation.

More Videos

That’s great! While 95% of customer value high-quality support over speed, delivering both is vital in this competitive age. Integrating ...

Akansh M

Foxtel debuts in-app messaging chat to improve customer service

Read more

Thanks for the post

Ashirwad Towers

How a brand facelift and content strategy turned real estate software, Rockend, around

Read more

Like we have been growing in technology since the first industrial revolution and never stopping but when it comes to businesses around t...

Bhooshan Shetty

Predicting the Future: Marketing science or marketing myth?

Read more

Was really informative. Customer retention is very important for companies as retaining customers are simpler compared to making new ones...

Bhooshan Shetty

Gartner survey: CMO spending hit by COVID-19

Read more

Couldn't agree more!The way AI and machine learning as evolved over these years, it has completely changed the look of marketing and cust...

Bhooshan Shetty

Marketing 2030 and the rise of the machines

Read more

Blog Posts

Life beyond the cookie: 5 steps to mapping the future of marketing measurement

​There’s no denying there’s been a whirlwind of response to the imminent demise of the third-party cookie from all parts of the industry. But as we’ve collectively come to better understand the implications, it’s clear this change is giving the digital advertising industry the opportunity to re-think digital marketing to support core industry use cases, while balancing consumer privacy.

Natalie Stanbury

Director of research, IAB Australia

Ensuring post-crisis success

The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed brands’ CX shortcomings and a lack of customer understanding. Given ongoing disruption, customer needs, wants and expectations are continually changing, also causing customers to behave in different ways. Just look at hoarding toilet paper, staple and canned food, medicinal and cleaning products.

Riccardo Pasto

senior analyst, Forrester

A few behavioural economics lesson to get your brand on top of the travel list

Understanding the core principles of Behavioural Economics will give players in the travel industry a major competitive advantage when restrictions lift and travellers begin to book again. And there are a few insights in here for the rest of the marketing community, too.

Dan Monheit

Co-founder, Hardhat

Sign in