FA reveals plan to monetise its digital assets

Advertising Week Europe 2014: The Football Association (FA) is developing a string of second-screen marketing initiatives in an attempt to adopt a more “brand-centric” approach to fan engagement and ultimately boost commercial revenues.

The FA is ramping up efforts to commercialise online chatter and create additional value for sponsors.

The rights holder is working with RadiumOne to create a “better picture” of England fans as part of a more flexible approach to developing shareable content with partners such as Nike and Vauxhall. Football chiefs are hoping the move can make fans feel more involved with the England team, while ensuring its own sponsors are not out muscled during major events by FIFA and UEFA partners.

It is looking to test the plan around the upcoming World Cup where it will create second-screen initiatives around England games. Talking to fans during a 90-minute match has proved “difficult” in the past, according to the FA, due to not having the insights and infrastructure needed to create content. The move could lead to statistics, video and behind-the-scenes content from the England camp pushed to fans during matches.

Speaking on a panel at Advertising Week today (3 April), Stuart Turner, head of commercial at the FA, said it was looking to give brands such as Nike, Vauxhall and William Hill, which are not official FIFA partners, ownership of the World Cup. Those FA partners which clash with FIFA’s are prohibited from marketing to its fans, he added.

Turner added: “The World Cup is not our event, it’s FIFA’s. It’s very difficult from a media valuation perspective for our partners to get any cut-through at the World Cup. FIFA gives us leeway around our own press conferences and our training camps, however, that’s from a traditional media sense.

“Our challenge is to know more about our fans because that 28 million audience tuning in to watch England games during the latter stages of the tournament is owned by the broadcasters. By using social media, we’re able to know more about those people and their preferences. It does drive up the price of the [commercial] contract.”

Video will also be a key platform for the FA moving forward. It expects to post around 40 million videos on YouTube and Facebook between June and July.

The FA is also looking to use the social sphere to shift public perceptions that the brand is not reflective of modern football. Turner pointed to the public furore around the £90 price of the Nike England kit as an example of why it needed to adopt a more proactive approach to protecting the brand.

Turner said: “There’s a general perception that we’re full of FA blazers and based at Lancaster Gate sat inside oak panel rooms with Mike Bassett for England manager. Social media is one of the ways we can change that. If we’re seen to be proactive in that space and reacting to people then we can change that.”

The governing body is already pulling insights from the conversations fans online to prove its value at a time of upheaval for its commercial team and its search for a headline sponsor for the FA Cup.