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Harnessing the power of mobile location data

31 Jan 2019 | Written by Mark Maydon

This is an edited version of a talk given recently by Crowd Connected’s Commercial Director, Mark Maydon, at a seminar hosted by leading international lawyers, Bird & Bird. The seminar addressed how sports businesses are embracing digital techniques to better understand, influence and engage with customers.

Today I’ll be talking about mobile location data and how it is the key to understanding and influencing fan behaviour. So, I’ll talk about fans. But we could equally substitute the words visitors, attendees or better still customers.

Because after all that is what the fans are: customers.

I’ll talk about football and the match-day experience. But we could substitute most sports. About how location tracking can deliver real-time visitor experience management and support commercial partner propositions. About how it benefits multiple functions across the typical sports business, from marketers to safety officers. Ultimately, I’ll talk about how embedding location intelligence into a mobile app can make it even more valuable as a data gathering tool, a communication tool and a revenue generator.

So why I am here, pontificating about what value mobile location data can deliver? What credentials do I have?

Our location tracking solution is widely used by leading visitor businesses worldwide.

We built it from the ground up. We designed it specifically to service crowded environments. I say visitor businesses because that captures a wide range of different scenarios in which our technology is applicable. Anywhere there’s a crowd, in fact. Be that entertainment – over 50 of the world’s leading music festivals license our software. Or moving indoors we provide large scale exhibitions, conferences and tradeshows with a visitor tracking solution that delivers where others have promised but failed. We’re also used by venues, like arenas and stadiums. While in sport our technology is rapidly gaining traction. From golf to ice hockey, motorsport to athletics. Not least football. Be that at the UEFA Champions League final or a Premier League club. Which draws out an important distinction. We don’t develop mobile apps ourselves – we leave that to the experts. We are entirely focused on providing first-class location services.

A complete real-time location data toolset.

Let’s start with the basics: We accurately track the movement of mobile devices – typically phones. We take that rich stream of data, process and visualise it. We provide a ready-to-use toolset to understand and influence people’s movements. Crucially, in real time. That’s a technological challenge – processing vast quantities of data and making sense of it. But the outputs – what we deliver – are simpler to get your head around.

First, footfall analytics.

Delivering robust, reliable metrics like visits, dwell times, queue times – we put numbers on what was previously painful to measure. We provide invaluable insight into customer behaviour. As it happens.

Be that for measuring performance of commercial partnerships – say a sponsor activation or a F&B concession – or for operations (crowd safety and security) or for digital marketing. Location data provides incredibly valuable insight into customer behaviour.

And we use that same location data to drive enhanced mobile engagement. Think hyper targeted messaging, delivering communications in the moment. Right information, right time, right place.

Sophisticated location-based messaging that benefits the customer. The antithesis of spam: more relevant personalised information, enhancing the customer experience. That benefits the business: for example, it creates new digital inventory for commercial partners. And targeted messaging provides a mechanic for influencing customer behaviour, a topic we’ll return to a bit later.

But before then, I’ll quickly explain how it works.

**So how do we do it?

**We’re a software business first and foremost. We leverage existing hardware – starting with the ubiquitous mobile phone carried by every fan. Through a simple plug-in to an official mobile app, our software runs in the background, accurately tracking the location of these mobile devices. By proxy, the crowd’s movement.

We take millions of data points, we crunch them through some pretty sophisticated algorithms and we deliver the outputs via our web console. Think here of heatmaps and dashboards, charts and reports: real time data visualisations, providing real-time insight. Alongside this, we supply a complete toolset for managing targeted push notification messages. And even measuring their impact.

A couple of important points to note in passing.

  • Our approach is fully GDPR compliant because the user explicitly consents to the data collection.
  • Also, we only deal in first party data. We don’t sell on the data to digital advertising aggregators or such like. But let’s return to our overarching theme. Let’s consider how all this location data might transform a sport business’s operations. Let’s consider the matchday experience.

**The matchday experience is evolving

**We live in a fast-changing world. Like any customer business, sport needs to be constantly evolving its customer offering. Be that the physical offering – the stadium or venue, the facilities provided, the service that fans can consume (no longer necessarily limited to just the match, of course).

Or the digital offering – the mobile app, website, ticket, content, streaming, etc.

Why? Because competition is fierce, and sports businesses need to attract, retain and delight fans. They need to increase revenues (for example, from commercial partners). And, in this day and age, enhancing safety and security is also high up the agenda. So, they need to pay attention to that too. We believe there’s simple equation which describes the fans’ matchday experience.

_Fans’ matchday experience = Your offering + How fans respond

_By how fans respond we mean fan reaction in relation to what’s offered. Ergo, on its own a better offering is not going to be enough.

**Getting fans to respond (positively)

**Sports businesses also need to influence fan behavior. Like getting them to the stadium earlier. Doing new things. Spending more. That means understanding the complete matchday fan journey. Engaging with fans effectively. Getting them to respond positively. Success here requires fan behavior to change. Fans, like all humans, are creatures of habit. Breaking habits is always hard. If we want to transform the fan experience, we need to change fan habits.

Today’s fans exhibit entrenched behaviors. For example, they have established matchday routine and frequently exhibit fixed consumption patterns. Tomorrow’s fans exhibit different behaviors. Different but equally, if not more, challenging. They are technology disrupted, digitally distracted (just consider the rapid rise of esports) and arguably more likely to be of the stay-at-home variety.

It’s not going to be easy.

**The formula for success… and how do you measure up?

**Sports businesses are investing in their offering as they seek to delight existing and future fans. But they also need to measure and communicate with their fans to give them the best prospect of success.

We think it can be summarised as follows:

  • Understand fan behaviour (“know your customer”). That’s the measurement piece.
  • Develop effective changes to your offering.
  • Influence future behaviour to maximise engagement and consumption – though targeted communication.

Then repeat. As a sports, business consider the following:

  • Are your existing touch points good enough?
  • How much do you really know of matchday journeys, from sofa to seat?
  • What’s missing – what else do you need to know? Do you have a data gap?

Then ask:

  • Not only whether you have the right tools at your disposal, but are you using your existing tools, like your mobile app, to their full potential?
  • Is your mobile app supercharged with location intelligence?

Mobile location data: the bridge between the physical and digital customer journey

We often sum up the benefits of our mobile location platform in three words: monitor, measure, engage. But underpinning these benefits is mobile location data.

Our location intelligence software helps smart sports businesses use their mobile app to gain insight into their fans. Returning to the opening theme, for fans we might substitute any of visitors, attendees, invitees, guests, patrons, punters or similar descriptors. But, almost without exception, customers.

Our location intelligence software helps smart business to measure customer behaviour. To influence that behaviour. Ultimately to generate more revenue.

Ultimately, we help smart businesses use location data to drive better decisions.