Felix Geyr: Is data the missing link in the content value chain?

This article appears in Issue 105 of SportsPro Magazine, which is available to pick up at the SportAccord Conference between May 5th and 10th.

By Felix Geyr – Managing Director, Sports Media at Sportradar

Like with many industries before it, the age of online and social media has been something of a double-edged sword for the publishing industry, bringing increased opportunities and avenues to push content but, at the same time, presenting new challenges of fresh competition and maintaining reliability without cutting corners.

While historically publishers and rights holders have had the keys to the castle when it comes to content and news distribution, new entrants into the marketplace – be it media giants like Facebook and Amazon, or land grabs from social-focused outlets and amateur publishers – have ensured the battle for audiences has never been fiercer. The same goes for engaging with increasingly splintered audiences, too.

The diversification of modern media and proliferation of social content means audiences know precisely where to find what they want to consume, often bypassing traditional outlets in the process. This trend of losing readership while trying to remain innovative has caused a major sea change in newsrooms across the globe. Publishers and rights holders have been squeezed from both sides in terms of competition and often had financial pressures applied, too, meaning many editors are now in no man’s land.

It’s this predicament that proved the driving force behind a new school of thought here at Sportradar when it comes to sports media. We want to provide specific problem-focused solutions to make life easier for publishers, in every stage of their workflow.

Innovation, as ever, is at the heart of progress and two of the tools we’ve been able to bring to the fore, GameBeats and InHabit, both have efficiency and ingenuity at their core. The former being a social media visualisation tool designed to reduce editorial workload and attract readers to sites, while the latter uses AI to embed relevant and engaging gamified widgets, or Factives, directly into editorial articles.

Attracting and engaging audiences are two key pillars of the publisher lifecycle and both have been squeezed in recent years, while the third is monetisation – another strand organisations ultimately get judged on. For us, that’s where ad:s comes in, where we use our unique position at the intersection of sports media and betting to supply advertising directly to publishers to boost their bottom line and streamline their marketing efforts.

Ultimately, whatever kind of publisher or rights holder you are, and wherever you are on the media landscape, those three pillars of attraction, engagement and monetisation, while nuanced, are universal.

In terms of the final piece in the puzzle, Sportradar’s ad:s service not only offers increased revenue opportunities for publishers, it also streamlines marketing efforts when it comes to attraction and retention of customers thanks to our experience of both the bookmaking and sports media industries.

Given our historic market presence of being primarily a data company, it’s hardly surprising that data underpins both ad:s and our new approach to sports media in general.

While Sportradar’s industry data is key to helping organisations reduce waste with their marketing and advertising processes, our sporting data is a core element of our OTT offering. The importance of video in any content or publication strategy is hardly a revelation but, like with the wider landscape, mobile consumption and an increased trend for personalisation has caused a major shift in how rights holders need to operate.

Ultimately, social media and the online space is packed with video content, ranging in quality and professionalism, meaning publishers need all the help they can get to stand out from the crowd, which is why we believe in the power of integrating data within our OTT platform.

Not only does it offer something new to shake up the marketplace, data-fuelled OTT can drive personalisation and garner fan loyalty for rights holders and publishers, backed up by our reliable infrastructure, which ingests billions of data points from more than 400,000 matches per year and is trusted by the likes of Borussia Dortmund, the World Rally Championship (WRC) and the European Handball Federation (EHF).

Even in the 15 years that Sportradar has been operating in the OTT space, the medium has advanced tremendously and, with the constant broadening of horizons, be it content or publishers, innovation remains key to staying ahead of the curve. That’s what we’ve looked to do, both with ad:s and our new OTT service – targeting the engagement and monetisation stages of the lifecycle specifically.

When we speak to publishers and rights holders, formally or informally, we hear messages of life being tough across the landscape with various economic, business and industry factors squeezing margins and forcing tough editorial decisions.

However, we also understand that, like with other industries who have had to face new difficulties in the market during the online age, quality of service – in sports media’s case, driven by innovation and reliable data – will always win out. In a modern landscape packed with rumour, clickbait and amateur content, data ensures that the truth is out there.

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