Fixture Release Day from a Club’s point of view

We all know what it feels like to be a fan on fixture release day. That renewed sense of optimism emanating through us, the mistakes and losses of the previous season momentarily forgotten. Every football fan resets and feels confident that the new season will be the best one yet.

But what’s it like to be a Club on fixture release day?

Our Head of Venue Sales – Michelle Tricker, has given us some behind the scenes insight.

What is all the fuss about fixture release day?

This is the first time in 16 years that I’m not working in a football club on fixture release day but still right in the middle of it at SmarterVENUES, only this time I’m looking at the fixtures for over 50 clubs, instead of just one!

I can only talk from my experience in commercial departments at Ipswich Town and Colchester United but I think I know enough people in football to say that it’s pretty similar everywhere.

My standard fixture release day always started early, although the fixtures are embargoed until a certain time it’s an exciting day and a limited number of people within the clubs do get these slightly earlier than the official release.  That being said, I do remember the year when the contact details hadn’t been updated properly. Myself and The General Manager were sitting in the office twiddling our thumbs for over an hour, waiting for the club secretary to get in and forward the email. We were not happy, seriously, who doesn’t want to get into work early on such a big day?

So what happens in the offices of a football club on fixture release day and what impact does it really have?

Once the email lands in our inbox all eyes are on the first game of the season. Then it’s quickly all about Christmas, are we home on Boxing Day? New Years Eve? New Years Day? How will this impact me and of course the dream Boxing Day fixture (this is always well attended and an opportunity to get out of the house after Christmas Day)? What about any local derby games? Which big teams are in our league and when are we playing them? What about last game of the season – are we home or away? Will it come down to the last game for promotion/play offs or will we have already done it (everyone is filled with optimism today, this has often gone by Christmas!)?

Once the initial scan is done and any panic has subsided, it’s time to really take the whole schedule in; starting with checking what home games there are from the start of the season until mid-September. These tend to be the lowest attended due to school holidays. What you really don’t want in those first 4-5 weeks of the season is a local derby or a game against the biggest team in your league as ticket and hospitality sales will take a hit.

Working at Colchester United we also had a very busy non-matchday side to the business. So I would then need to take a look at the fixtures in December to see which dates would be super long for all of the staff working match day and right through into a 2am finish for a Christmas party.  Then it’s time to cross check against bookings already in the diary as football comes first and unfortunately this means that I need to have some uncomfortable conversations with customers about moving their pre-existing booking (good T&C’s are essential!), you can understand why I was always reluctant to take a wedding booking before we know the fixtures.

One of my favourite things to do on fixture release day was updating the good old fashioned white board in the office. All the fixtures would be listed and sections added to start filling in the match sponsors, match ball sponsors, box bookings and basically setting up our visual sales board. Yes, of course we had a CRM system and everything was booked and logged on this but I’d like to bet that most commercial offices still have a white board as it’s good to see exactly what’s available. I even have a white board in my home office where I’m working right now – old habits die hard!

By the time the rest of the team get into the office (again, why are they not as excited and keen as me?!) then we are set up and ready to go.  The EFL automatically release the fixtures across all club websites and I always had the commercial email ready to press send.  I’ll be honest I think this is where my vision and reality just didn’t quite match up. I’d get myself super excited about this moment, expecting the phone to ring and bookings to fly in; but, well, they don’t. So it’s back to picking up the phone and securing those bookings as the new season begins.

With just one day to go it’s time for me to experience a slightly different approach to fixture release day!

Targeting Affluent Audiences

By Matthew Court – Head of Advertising Sales

Divide and conquer – segmenting the football fan audience

We like to think that we have a decent offering: a tightly defined audience of mainly men, mostly urban dwellers and definitely interested in the environment they see our posters and screens in. But we’re always thinking hard to come up with new reasons to use us to put in front of advertisers who haven’t quite taken the plunge yet.

And while we’re a firm that likes to keep things as simple as possible (and we really like how we’re able to summarise our audience like we have above), in truth our audience is a little more nuanced than that.

So one of the things we’ve been looking over recent months is how different parts of each ground attract a slightly different type of fan, and if they are replicated across our 40-odd clubs.

Some of you would have already heard us talking about how you can target “Dad & a lad” through just using our poster sites within the family stands & areas and experiential areas within fanzones, and we’ve now worked out a few other simple ways to tighten up our audience if that’s what you need. On this post we’re going to focus on one in particular…

The prawn sandwich brigade

Do you remember when Roy Keane went on one of his many rants after Man Utd played poorly one game? He was banging on about something about people eating prawn sandwiches in the posh seats. I quite like prawn sandwiches so was a little offended at the time, but he kind of had a point. I think.

But whatever, our point is that (much like we know which of our posters are placed in family areas thus giving you the chance to target families as a unit), we know which of our panels are placed around the more expensively priced tickets on the wings of the pitch and around the halfway lines where they get really pricey.

And (of course) we can do the complete opposite and keep your brand away from such areas.

So if you want a more affluent male audience than our average 60% ABC1 make-up, give us a shout. We think these areas would work especially well for investments & financial products, advertising aimed at business owners, cars and holiday advertising. We estimate around 35% of our 400k fans a week fit this bill, so we’re not talking about a small percentage, we’re talking about director level affluent football fans in the local area.

If you would like to hear more about how Stadia Solutions’ football ground concourse posters and screens can work for your brand please feel free to give us a call on 020 7100 4545 or drop a line to matthew@smartervenues.com or danielle@smartervenues.com

My First 6 Weeks at Stadia Solutions

By Patrick McCreanor – Client Partnership Manager 

Football was always my first love, I played as soon as I could walk like all boys in the area of London that I grew up in but after my hopes of a professional footballing career ended early, I had to tap into my other areas of expertise.

I have always been told I am, what some would call, talkative…but for the purposes of this blog, let’s call it having the ability to hold a conversation well. So, a career in the commercial world, from publishing, to TV and events seemed the natural path to take.

The opportunity to combine the two main passions that I have in life and become part of the Stadia Solutions commercial team is a dream move for me, to coin a popular football transfer phrase. Unsurprisingly it has been a whirlwind 6 weeks since starting in March this year as Client Partnership Manager.

First Impressions

Getting to understand the varying impact of our products, different to anything I have made available to potential clients before, has been exciting; the 40-60 second dwell time on our washroom posters that keep a football fans attention undivided at a private time, the brand impact of giant screen advertising at some of the leading football clubs in the UK, the technology and reach within our FANTV networks and the fantastic brand impact for our clients in reaching over 14 million football fans per season using multi-faceted campaigns at football grounds from Celtic to Southampton.

I have, whilst developing on my existing sports network of contacts and speaking to existing clients, also learned about the plans of a number of the leading brands in the country who target our exclusive audience of loyal football fans, a group of people that are so brand loyal that they are TWICE as likely to buy a product or use a service that supports his or her football club, which is quite amazing.

It feels strange that we are planning for next season now, at a time when the rest of the country (myself as a Liverpool fan included!) are focused on the title races, promotion pushes and relegation battles, but the great thing about that is, for Stadia Solutions and our valued clients, the football season never ends!

It’s great to have gotten involved at a time when we are adding to the amount of clubs we’re working with (over 40 now), adding to our value proposition getting involved in Fan Engagement days and increasing our use of technology in football, where applicable we can take control of a football clubs Wi-Fi, as we did for Mr. Green at Celtic, which saw over 28,000 redirects to their app, showing that football fans are at their most responsive when at their second home, which is of course our strongest selling point, as it’s simply #Wherebrandsmeetfans

If you’d like a chat about our proposition get in touch on patrick@smartervenues.com or call 0207 100 4545

Thinking Outside of the Box

By Danielle Hill – Agency Sales Manager

“Hello there. Hope you’re well. I wanted to get in touch with you about our offering at Stadia Solutions….”

It’s at this point many Agency people switch off. Stadia? Football? “I don’t like football.” “Our brand has nothing to do with football.” Delete. We’ve lost them.

Whilst we know that yes, our formats are within a football environment and yes, these people we’re reaching are likely to be football fanatics, it’s important to acknowledge that they are so many other things too. And really, we could probably make a case to link our audience with the majority of categories and brands out there. Let’s give it a go…

Dad’s with Lads

A lot of them are Dads so they buy things for their kids. Toy companies, gaming, trainers, DVDs, concert tickets, theatre shows, tech, fashion. What doesn’t a kid want these days. We can specifically use our family stands and zones within our grounds to promote these brands.

Their weekends are dominated by the football season for 38 weeks of the season but there’s a small matter of keeping occupied for the other 14 weeks. They’re clearly happy to spend money on their hobbies, given the price of going to football these days, so we should be helping them ease the pain of the football season ending and giving them inspiration of how they can fill their free time. Travel companies, flight operators, festivals, other sporting events, cinema releases.

football concourse digital advertising

 

Being a Football Fan isn’t Cheap

Some have the assumption that football fans are all down-market C2DE white van men. Some are. But going to football each week definitely makes your wallet lighter. If an average ticket across leagues is c.£30, you add travel, a beer before the game and at half time and maybe some sort of pastry-based snack – you’re easily looking at £50 a match. So why shouldn’t more upmarket car, watch and fashion brands be using our formats? To make it even more targeted, we can position these more upmarket brands within the West stands which are the most expensive seats in the house.

Lads, Lads, Lads!

Going to football is when men tend to become one of the lads. They have a pint (or three), they sing (or try) and they get wrapped up in the euphoria of goal celebrations (or cry at the opposite). However, despite the laddish nature of football it’s also a really good time to talk to them about serious subjects when we catch them on their own. What better way to talk to them about specific health checks, charities, asking for help when they’re standing at the urinal in the washroom. When they can take in this information without judgement from anybody else.

Finally, and this one might require a bit more convincing; these men will be in relationships – so actually we can argue that we should be featuring some of the more female brands. Perfumes, flowers, experiences, card companies.

Sunderland football advertising

I’m not in any way saying that we should feature on every schedule – but what I am saying is that we certainly go deeper than just talking to brands who have a direct link to football. If you’re a brand who wants to talk to men, in any way, shape or form, we have a lot of men and once they’re locked in our venues for a couple of hours on a Saturday afternoon with their mates, we have an exclusive platform in which we can talk to them.

For more information on how to advertise at our football clubs drop me a note on danielle@smartervenues.com or call 0207 100 4545

Get the Dwell out of Here!! – Part 2

By Matthew Court, Head of Advertising Sales at Stadia Solutions

Dwell, dwell, dwell*, we meet again. Welcome back to our hotly anticipated concluding post on our guide to dwell times.

How good is our dwell time and how do we know we’ve got it?

As we’ve covered before, we know exactly how many people are in our grounds on matchday thanks to the fact we have access to real-world ticket data. This isn’t poorly paid people standing by the side of the road with clickers, this is actual data from clubs counting the number of tickets they have sold.

We know that our A3 panels above urinals are seen for 30-60 seconds per fan visit sometimes more at half-time when you’ve had to hold it for the first half of the game. We know our posters are seen because, well, there’s not much else to look at without being a little bit rude to the fan standing next to you. That’s 30-60 seconds of undistracted views of your advertisements, and plenty of time for you to either really drill a simple message in to the brains of the fans, or get across a more complicated or detailed message that you wouldn’t use OOH posters for (due to a relatively low average dwell time).

We know that our 6 Sheets (large concourse posters) are usually placed in areas fans gather to have a pint and a pie and talk about the game, and by our knowledge of our environments and what our stadium managers tell us we can estimate average dwell time to be 7-10 minutes for groups of fans in the communal areas.

In the clubs where we have TVs we have similar sorts of estimated dwell times at 9-12 minutes.

The key thing about our dwell times is that we try to focus on the time the audience spends in the actual vicinity of our posters, not in the overall environment. Many OOH firms will say that they have a dwell time of more than an hour but that’s usually focusing on the time a person spends in that area (perhaps an airport or mall), not in front of a particular site (FYI we could go down that route and say that our average dwell time around 2 ½ hours, as that’s the average time a fan spends on-site each fixture, but we don’t).

What does that mean for you and your campaigns?

It’s the conventional wisdom, and to me quite logical, that the higher the dwell time the better for advertisers. I mean, who wouldn’t want their ad looked at for longer?

A study by CBS (Exterion before it was called Exterion) suggested that ad’s seen in a high dwell time resulted in an audience being 50%-75% more ‘motivated’ by the ad. This makes sense to me and doesn’t sound like an over-exaggeration. There were other metrics, too, such as brand recall, message retention and brand empathy that showed similarly high numbers. It’s logical that to me that the more time someone spends in the environment that an ad is in, the more often they will look at it. Again, who wouldn’t want their ad looked at for longer?

OK, tell me more…

We’re not just about dwell time, we’ve got some of the hardest working posters in media during the four hours every ten days our venues are open for business, and we’re able to do some pretty clever stuff with what some would call ‘traditional’ media (how about targeting different audience groups by using different areas of the grounds, like targeting dads who’ve bought their kids to the game by focusing on family stands?). Here’s a link to the relevant page on our website that can give you some more info on our formats and what we do (and how):

http://stadiasolutions.com/advertising/

If you’d like any more information drop me a line on matthew@smartervenues.com or give me a call on 0207 100 4545.

*Sorry..

Get the Dwell out of Here!! – Part 1

By Matthew Court, Head of Advertising Sales at Stadia Solutions

Yes, “get the dwell out of here” is what I hear a lot* when I start talking about dwell time with clients and agency partners. Some say I am a bit like a bat out of dwell**. Most say shut the dwell/hell up***.

But I will keep talking about the power of dwell time until dwell freezes over. By now I think you can guess what this post is about – dwell time.

Over our next couple of blogs we will be giving you a handy guide to dwell time in Out of Home advertising.

But what is dwell time?

There are varying definitions of what dwell time is. I had never heard of it until I moved in to outdoor advertising, but I suppose a similar thing in print (where I had worked up until then) would be the metric of ‘time spent on an average page’ which we used to talk about a bit in Mags back in the day.

It’s a big thing online with dwell time meaning the amount of time spent between a user clicking a search engine result and then going back to the list of results (the time in between, on your website = your dwell time), but in Out Of Home it’s slightly different…

Dwell time in Out Of Home is all about the time spent within eyeshot of an ad-site, and boy do we have it by the bucket load!

But before we go on it could be worth you having a think about all the different things that you can buy in OOH and think about their dwell times. Some are better than others, aren’t they? For sake of impartiality, dwell isn’t what you buy all formats for is it? But usually it helps people understand and absorb a message that you’re trying to get across and if it’s important to you and your campaign then we could deliver a lot of added dwell value.

Why? Because we have four different formats which are seen when people are hanging around:
1) The majority of our 6 Sheets are in communal areas of the concourses
2) TVs in the same sorts of places
3) Giant Screens seen by people sitting down getting ready to watch the game
4) A3s above the urinals and sinks in washrooms

In fact, when we are installing new frames, we’re helped by stadium managers specifically asking us to place our posters and screens in areas where they want people to hang around. As you would expect, this helps with our dwell times.

Why is dwell time good?

So why is dwell time good? Simply put, sites with a high dwell times, such as large format screens in big train stations, train and tube panels, screens in doctors waiting rooms & post offices (and of course posters and screens in football grounds) give advertisers more of a chance to get their message across to the audience hanging around in that area. Generally speaking, the higher the dwell time, the better.
Of course dwell time isn’t the only metric that you should be buying space against, there are plenty of great OOH sites that don’t offer much dwell time but instead provide huge numbers, but we focus on this dwell time as it’s such a strong card for us.

To be continued…

Tomorrow, we’ll be focusing on why our dwell times are so good and what that can mean for advertisers. Stay tuned..

 

* I have literally never heard this

** some = none

*** yes I actually found a website that had phrases including the word hell and substituted hell for dwell – genius!!

Focus On: Wolves & Molineux Stadium

Wolverhampton Wanderers – better known as Wolves, are an English club steeped in history. From humble beginnings formed by two pupils of St Luke’s Church School in Blakenhall to the ninth most successful Club in domestic English history with 13 major trophy wins.

They have earned some impressive club records in their 142 year history; Four time FA Cup winners, the first Club to have won all four professional English leagues, the only Club to have won all of the main domestic cup competitions (FA Cup, League Cup and Football League Trophy) and they are the first and only club to pass 100 goals for four consecutive seasons in the English Leagues.

Wolves famous gold and black club colours originate from the city’s motto ‘Out of darkness cometh light’ with gold and black representing light and dark respectively.

Molineux stadium has been home to Wolves since 1889 and was the first stadium built for use by a Football League club.

In the days before seating regulations, the ground could hold more than 60,000 spectators. It is now an all seater stadium with an official capacity of 32,050. It was one of the first British grounds to have floodlights installed and after a multi million pound renovation in the early 1990’s it was one of the biggest and most modern stadia in England at the time.

Stadia Solutions are the official concourse advertising partner and the official concourse television partner of Wolverhampton Wanderers FC. There is a total of 96 FanTV digital screens, 17 large format concourse posters and 82 A3 sized washroom poster panels. They have an average home game attendance this season of 30,107.

A fan quote taken directly from the Wolves website states ‘Every fortnight I become the best of friends with 28,000 people’. Which demonstrates perfectly that our advertising formats allow for reach of a predominantly male audience in their leisure time. They are deeply loyal to their club and others associated with it and have the time and means to engage with and remember brands situated in and around the stadium.

For more information on advertising opportunities with Wolves you can visit our website page on the club here or contact matthew.court@stadiasolutions.com or call 0207 100 45 45.

 

Stadia Solutions Weekend Report 20th Jan – 27th Jan 2019

This week saw us reach a total of 314,071 across the fixtures.

Our top five clubs for attendance this week are:

Celtic – 113,085

Norwich City – 26,844

Stoke City – 25,053

Crystal Palace – 19,491

Portsmouth – 19,378

We are now over half way through the 2018/2019 season and on average we are reaching over 280k of fans per week, 85% of which are male and all of which are attending football matches in their leisure time. Making us one of the most unique ways to target a male audience for advertisers.

 

Stadia Solutions Weekend Report 31st Dec – 6th Jan 2019

The first week of fixtures for 2019 has been a big one for our clubs. Many took part in the 3rd round of the FA Cup and we saw an attendance of 329,572 fans. Charlton Athletic are making an appearance in our top five this week thanks to two home games.

Our top five clubs for attendance this week are:

Cardiff City: 32,485

Wolves: 30,666

Charlton Athletic: 26,738

Stoke City: 23,912

Norwich City: 23,201

 

Stadia Solutions Weekend Report 23rd-30th December 2018

Happy New Year One and All.

We are kicking off 2019 with a bumper version of our weekly attendance report.

First up is w/c 17th Dec – 23rd Dec. We had a total attendance figure of 286,884 with a few of our bigger clubs hosting home games, including Celtic, Cardiff and Wolves.

Next up – the big one! The Christmas fixtures are in. We all know the period between Christmas and New Year is the busiest time in Football. This year we saw a whopping 589,299 fans visit our clubs with many of our clubs having two home fixtures between Christmas and New Year and Fans turning out in their thousands.

The highest attendances between Christmas and New Year were:

Sunderland – 79,327 (record breaking Boxing Day attendance for a league one team!)

Southampton – 63,035

Sheffield United – 56,358

Norwich City – 53,799

West Brom – 52,103

Sunderland Smash League One Attendance Records

Those of you that follow us will know, we send out a weekly report with attendance figures across all our clubs. As such we have been closely tracking Sunderland’s attendance figures and were already aware that their deeply loyal fan base are turning up in their droves to support them in League One

This has now been confirmed by the club with a press release announcing that Sunderland have had a record breaking number of fans purchase tickets for their Boxing Day fixture against Bradford City.

It just goes to show, whether top flight football or third tier and beyond, Football Fans are stalwarts and will show up week in, week out to support their team. Whilst at least 38,257 Sunderland fans head out on Boxing Day to cheer them on, so will many thousands of other football fans be doing the same thing at their chosen club.

We have advertising space at 35 stadiums nationally with various advertising options. Why not get your brand in front of these fans? Talk to them in their leisure time at the place they think of as a second home. We have unique touch points with fans and can create contextually relevant environments for advertisers.

Find out more about our Football advertising formats here to see what we could do for your business on a local or national level. If you’d like to know more, give us a call on 020 7100 4545 or email info@stadiasolutions.com

#wherebrandsmeetfans

Stadia Solutions Weekend Report 9th December 2018

Last week was the second round of the Checkatrade Trophy, meaning double fixtures for some of our clubs and a number of them progressing to the next round. Good news for our attendance figures but also good news for our advertisers, who receive all cup fixtures as additional value.

We had a total attendance of 384,958 fans across all our clubs – making it our third biggest of the season! 

Top 5 clubs for this week are:

Celtic – 58,457

West Brom – 47,462

Burnley – 40,238

Wolverhampton – 31,300

Cardiff City – 30,067