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Team Talk: Matt Cairns

MATT CAIRNS, ELEVEN SPORTS MEDIA

Connecting Fans with the Brand

After celebrating a decade in the

industry, Eleven Sports Media have seen the evolution of the brand to fan experience within UK stadia first hand. Fans are demanding a more connected, engaging and interactive environment, but rather than seeing this as an obstacle, clubs are using these opportunities to find new and innovative ways to drive commercial revenues, creating additional value for commercial partners and strengthening the relationship between club, brand and fanbase. Launched in January 2018, the new iteration of the Leeds United Partner Programme has proven to be a huge commercial success for all stakeholders, the club’s commercial team, the brands associated with the partnership and the fans who have enjoyed the awardwinning content on Eleven Sports Media’s fan engagement channels, StadiumTV and StatTV. Eleven’s experience in constructing partner programmes by bringing together a range of digital communication channels had already

seen them achieve commercial success at clubs such as Middlesbrough, Newcastle United, Crystal Palace and Watford. While the basis for any successful partner programme has always been to utilise available space on the club’s perimeter advertising boards, Eleven believe that the traditional approach was in need of modernisation. Eleven’s CEO Matt Cairns said: “We saw there was very little structure to most commercial partner programmes and it was our strong belief, along with a few others in the market, that the singular core principle of a tiered partnership structure combined with the use of ‘segmented LED’ could glean much greater revenues than what were being achieved.” Working with Leeds United’s commercial team, comprising of Stuart Dodsley and Paul Bell, Eleven worked to construct a partner programme which built on the principles of LED exposure, but also included the added value of Eleven’s owned digital fan engagement channels, StadiumTV, StatTV and StatTracker as

well as Eleven managing a range of commercial activations. With a strong focus on activation, it was quickly identified that brands, both regional and national, were demanding richer branded content, access to high profile events in the stadium and the use of bespoke partner IP. The new-look partner programme took a multitier approach, with Leeds United’s commercial team managing ‘Digital Partners’ with titanium, platinum, gold, silver and bronze levels. Eleven managed the lower tier under the title of Leeds United Business Club. Partners at every level are now able to engage with the club’s fans at various digital touchpoints within the Elland Road stadium, beyond the club’s official social media channels, and even with the local business community at exclusive events. Eleven had helped provide a fully-integrated partner programme which provided additional value and took activation to a whole new level by providing key insights to the clubs, and campaign activation to the partners and brands who joined the programme.

“In the 2018/19 campaign we broke commercial records,” said Paul Bell, Leeds United’s Executive Director. “The additional inventory provided by Eleven has certainly helped to deliver additional exposure and value to our clients. Rather than just a simple LED advertising offer we were able to present a broader package of digital rights that delivered for our clients beyond the match days. “The Partner events that we hold during the season have proven to be extremely popular and well attended. The campaign reporting provided from Eleven has given the sales team high quality, detailed analysis of the reach of the digital campaigns that have been delivered, and importantly a strong and compelling reason for clients to renew, and in many cases upgrade to a higher level digital package.” He continued: “We have also just started to use the Insight Analysis tool provided by Eleven. These insights are providing an enhanced level of insight into potential prospective clients,

both regionally and nationally, and providing our sales team with warm leads and contact information.” As with any partner programme, the client experience is important, but equally important is the commercial revenue, which the solution provides and the success for Eleven Sports Media has come in many forms. Financially their own rights to the partner programme is fully-subscribed and they have 50 extremely happy partners enjoying exposure and brand recognition in the Leeds United Business Club. It is also important to note that Eleven’s platforms; StadiumTV, StatTV and StatTracker were devised to engage and entertain a club’s fans, providing them with a level of original and bespoke matchday related content never seen in UK football previously. For Leeds United, the proof is in the added

value and additional revenues the digital partners programme has brought. “Prior to the installation of the perimeter LED system we had spent a significant amount of time analysing the market and looking at the most efficient way of monetising the system,” explained Paul. “It was vital, particularly in the Championship that we could add additional value to our existing commercial partners programme and increase revenues to the club. “As part of our commercial model we agreed a multi-year deal with Eleven, providing a level of inventory on the crowd facing LED and on the mid-tier LED ribbon in return for a minimum revenue guarantee; areas in which Eleven were experienced in selling, particularly the lower value packages, which are perfect for smaller local businesses, leaving the Leeds United sales team focused on the higher value digital

packages and Club Partner programme. The investment from Eleven helped to underpin the purchase cost of the system itself. “When we look at the additional revenues that we are now generating from the digital LED perimeter and digital LED ribbon we are confident that we are now achieving a per minute value for our LED minutes that is higher than typical Premier League LED values.” Paul concluded: “It has been a pleasure working with Eleven and introducing the Digital Partners Programme to Yorkshire. Throughout the implementation phase the additional support and guidance provided from Matt and the rest of the Eleven team was extremely helpful.”