Thursday, August 13, 2015

Which Is Better For A Sports Team’s Digital Channels – Winning Or Losing?

This last week has seen the starkest possible contrast in fortunes for two of Australia's sports teams.

The cricketers were thrashed by the English. Australia ‘lost’ the Ashes – although technically it never really had them, since the actual urn, for reasons of colonial oppression, remain on permanent display at Lord’s – leading to the retirement of Michael Clarke, the captain. Yes, the ‘Pup’ has been put down.

Meanwhile, the Wallabies ended a four-year drought with a sparkling 27-19 win over the All Blacks, and are being tipped as World Cup winners.

So, enough of their performances on the field, how are the two sports faring in the digital arena?

It turns out that the Australian Rugby Union has a far higher percentage of their audience engaged at 44.0%, compared to Cricket Australia which has 2.8% engaged.

The most effective medium for Cricket Australia – by far – is Twitter. In fact it has the leading Twitter engagement rate of any of the 44 Australian sporting bodies tracked by BrandData. (In addition to having the most successful website). Yet curiously, it is the second LEAST effective of all 44 bodies on Facebook.

The Australian Rugby Union, by contrast, is the MOST effective on Facebook. (And also first on YouTube). But is nowhere on Twitter.

Since one is weak exactly where the other is strong, and vice versa, the obvious conclusion is they could create a real social media powerhouse by simply combining the two sports.

For sure, the merger would throw up some challenges. Like… which ball to use? It certainly wouldn’t be easy to hit a rugby ball very far with a cricket bat. Nor would it be a cinch to locate a cricket ball in the ruck. As far as personnel, there are some easier calls. Steve Smith surely has the physique to be a scrum half. Mitchell Johnson could power down the wing, no problem. And if Matt Giteau can bowl as well as he kicks, that would really help this ‘Crugby’ team succeed.

But other than a merger, the Brand Data conclusion for what each body needs to do to enhance their online presence is clear:


For despite its on-field success, the ARU has dropped three places in the last week, in terms of the digital league table of sporting bodies. While Cricket Australia, despite its defeat – or let’s face it, probably because of the excitement that the team’s crisis has created – increased seven places (to 12th).


Sell! Sell! said...



Next thing, this industry will be measuring unicorn farts.

Scamp said...

Haha. Nice.

I know where you're coming from, mate. Obviously sales is the only metric that really matters. But... it's always been kinda hard to link that directly with advertising.

I reckon a lot of the metrics we have, while imperfect, are actually not bad. The much criticised 'recall' figure, for example, correlates quite well with Byron Sharp's theory of what makes people buy. (Mental availability).

And engagement? Well, I think it's a pretty fair bet that if people are watching your videos, and commenting on your posts, they're more likely to become interested in what you're selling.

Sell! Sell! said...

It's notoriously difficult to measure advertising's effects, especially because the effects of great advertising build over time and last over time.

But, it is one of the problems in the business currently - this obsession with trying to find things to measure. And we should be more critical and skeptical about things that can and do make our industry look stupid to other business people.

Recall, as you say, is not entirely unhelpful, but needs to used in context and over time if it's to help measure progress of 'mental availability'. And the science of how we measure recall needs to be improved. It's no good just asking people to name a car brand, or a beer or whatever. The way the mind works is much more complex and subtle than that. Mental availability isn't simply 'remembering' or even necessarily remembering, it is more complicated things like mental associations. I would add to the mental availability aim too, in that I think the most powerful branding and communication doesn't just make a brand mentally available, but it makes it associated with some relevant quality.

'Engagement' however I have a huge problem with. It's the current snake oil of the business.

When, for example, one buys a TV audience of 5 million people, you don't just assume that because 5 million people (or the % of the audience who didn't nip to the loo during the ad break) saw your ad, they're interested in what you're selling.

Just because something is measurable does not make it worth measuring. But people do, because they fucking love measuring.

This addiction to proxy measurements which may or may not prove anything is just a distraction from the real value that agencies can give to business – to create advertising which help brands grow over the medium and long-term.

I enjoyed the post though. Sorry to go on.

Anonymous said...

Crugby - nice.

Rugket also works well, I feel.