With live in-person events having been few and far between, we have all benefited from ‘phygital’ products, experiences, and digital activations, as technology has helped a range of industries, not least in sport marketing and entertainment, to continue to connect with and reach their virtual fan.

As momentum builds and audiences return to stadiums, festival and arenas, the technology, and digital immersive experiences used to bridge the fan engagement and sports marketing gap, have now grown in importance and are an integral part to the spectator brand experience. This is allowing for more personalised and interactive moments, particularly those built around immersive content, gamification, and social viewing, all driven by first-party data and AI. 

It’s probably no surprise that many of the trend’s centre around the viewing experience, with fans continuing to seek immersion outside (and often during) the event, with digital activations including behind-closed-doors footage, on-line fan chats, game walk-throughs, professional athletes and performers livestreaming and easily accessible on demand footage. Hyper-customisation is however now at the forefront, as audiences look for creative solutions like co-streaming and self-commentating via platforms like Twitch, which is hugely empowering for fans seeking more active agency in their brand experience. 

This personal approach is driving next generation performance, with new technology now facilitating transactions and engagement between talent, parents and coaches, and learnings from professionals are more widely accessed by passionate amateurs. The upskilling opportunity in digital performance because of this is huge, particularly for sports retail and e-commerce. Ever-more sophisticated immersive experiences and digital content are providing realistic skill-sharing, getting people to invest in measuring their individual performance, receiving high-quality feedback, and training to improve their skills. This is especially being optimised with connected fitness, through enhanced data intelligence and AI to drive the content. 

Finally, the biggest trend we’re seeing is taking collectable trading to the next level. There’s been a huge boom, especially driven using non-fungible tokens (NFT’s), the crypto certificates for digital works, that have shaken up the art market and are now conquering the sports and entertainment world. Nike is already planning to sell digitally certified sneakers – a blend of the physical and digital token world.

Each of these trends has more than just digital activation and interactive content in common: at the heart sits strong data insight and a real understanding of fan and audience motivations to deliver winning strategies. More importantly, we mustn’t forget that even with a digital first approach, it is not about using technology for technology’s sake. It is about enhancing the connectivity, emotion, and passion that we all yearn for. 

To see more on the trends, download the report by clicking on the image above. 

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