The Importance of Media Analytics in Sports
By: Jacob Meyers, Media Analytics Executive
Media analytics is a fairly new and groundbreaking field within the advertisement universe. Since the popularization of personal computers and the internet in the 1990s, the human race has slowly compiled the largest set of data ever to be collected in one place. Countless hours have been spent entering data into the internet, making it easily accessible and easy to work with, giving us new ways of discovering insights and finding the way to make a company be the most efficient and successful in their advertising. Some of the largest companies in the United States are professional sports teams. They have valuations in the hundreds of millions and even some in the billions of dollars, and with big business comes big decisions. Decisions that can be made easier with analytics.
It’s no question that the very essence that makes sports special is the social aspect of the games. Finding a fandom is finding a community. With the age of social media upon us, sports teams have begun to take that idea of a social experience to the next level. Every professional sports team in the big four sports leagues in the United States (NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL) has an official social media account. In a study by MarTech, it was found that 61% of sports viewers follow sports accounts on social media, and of those 61%, 80% interact with that team on social media.
Social media can bring big money for sports teams too, as a social media follower is a potential fan and a potential fan is a potential ticket buyer or jersey buyer, providing direct revenue for the club. This means that keeping a good, consistent social media presence can lead to cash for the already cash cow professional sports team. How do they maximize their return on investment? That’s where media analytics comes in.
At the end of the day, a professional sports team is a brand. Brands need to constantly be defined, grown, and shown off to keep their value. Social media can provide valuable insight to a brand because it allows for instant feedback on a branding decision through engagement level, comments, and other live reactions from followers. These types of insights in the old *shudder* pre-social media days would have taken months of surveying, focus grouping, and data collecting to find. Today, however, it’s as easy as a look into the insights section on your social media account.
These insights may be well and good, but it’s hard to truly extract value from the responses you get from people without the ability to correctly organize, declutter, and read what the insights are truly trying to tell you. That is where a media analytics professional comes into play. When sports teams hire media analytics professionals, they expect to have someone who can find what the fans want and interact with on social media so that the creative and strategic department can execute on those ideas more often, thus increasing their return on investment in the social media world.
It would not be fair to talk about analytics in sports without talking about the other big use of analytics experts for sports teams. With years of data on exactly what has worked and what hasn’t in professional sports, analytics professionals can also directly impact the performance of the team. A lot of teams have begun to take an analytics based approach in their operations in order to maximize their performance on game days. Of course, the first thing you think of when you think of analytics in sports operations are the famous “Moneyball” Oakland A’s, who turned to analytics in their 2002 season, winning 20 straight games and their division while being lowest in the league in payroll.