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Digital takeover

Steven Korian, EVP of Sports and Entertainment at IOMEDIA, addresses marketing challenges, innovative ticketing solutions and the digital future of stadia


What services does your company offer to the industry?
IOMEDIA is a creative agency focused on the bigger picture – strategy, concept, and execution of extraordinary digital visuals and brand-centric media experiences. For the past 14 years, the company has offered a diverse outlook answering complex marketing challenges with inspired concepts, campaigns, and media productions. With a full in-house compliment of creative and technology teams, IOMEDIA and its Virtual Venue™ delivers game-changing creative solutions for today’s sales and marketing challenges.

Could you tell us an interesting fact about your company?
Over the past year, IOMEDIA has expanded its customisation and usage of the core Virtual Venue™ technology by teaming with Ticketmaster to deliver an exclusive integrated ticketing solution and has also launched Virtual Venues™ for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Portland Timbers, the New York Knicks and New York Rangers, Penn State University Football, Vancouver Whitecaps, Sporting Kansas City and UFC 129. IOMEDIA’s Integrated Virtual Venue has seen over US$100 million in transactions run through it. On average, our clients save between US$40,000 – 60,000 in head count and effort.

What trends do you see emerging in your particular sector of the stadium industry?
The most important trend we see across all aspects of the stadium industry is digital, whether it is a digital marketing campaign, social media or digital signage. Stadium owners and properties clearly see the future in front of them and they are all trying to find the best digital solutions to engage the live audience as well as the at home audience. It begins with the actual ticket purchase, which we feel will become a much more dynamic interface where fans will be able to make more informed purchases thus increasing their overall spend and total engagement with a club or venue. Consumers will be able to increasingly control their experience and the content they consume both inside and outside of a stadium environment. Eventually fans will be able to purchase two types of tickets – a ticket to a live event inside a venue or a ticket to a live event viewed through a Virtual Venue – creating a new and significant revenue stream for clubs and venues. There are many different ways to go and we are seeing a lot of innovation in these areas.

Can you tell us about a recent success story for your company?
Within two years of launching its Sports & Entertainment division, IOMEDIA has quickly become a major player in the sports technology industry and now has the prestigious honour of becoming a finalist for the 2011 Sports Business Awards. Launched in 2008 by the Sports Business Journal, the Sports Business Awards celebrate excellence in sports business, and are considered one of the industry's highest honours. In 2011, the publication identified IOMEDIA's Virtual Venue™ platform as a leader in Sports Technology.

Heading into the 2011 collegiate football season, IOMEDIA partnered with Penn State University to reseat Beaver Stadium – a 90,000 seat venue with an account base of over 20,000 accounts. Critical to the reseating process was Penn State’s desire to assign mandatory Nittany Lion Club donations to each seat location creating a hierarchy of seat locations based on donation levels. IOMEDIA provided Penn State with the tools to pre-qualify all 20,000 accounts based on intent, schedule each account for the online seat selection process, and process all transactions within one month successfully reseating over 20,000 accounts in Beaver Stadium. As a result, Penn State reported record-level donations for the Nittany Lion Club and a significant increase in renewal revenue.

What are the biggest challenges you’re facing in your particular sector of the industry – and how are you overcoming them?
The sports industry as a whole lags behind technology trends in general. As a result, most fans are consuming content and interacting with brands in more advance means than most clubs and venues currently operate. For us the challenge is educating clubs and venues on consumer behaviour and the best methods to communicate with their own fans. To overcome this challenge, we are developing a suite of digital tools and assets that allow clubs and venues to speak efficiently to their fans and decrease cost of sales and marketing expenses. Such tools include customised mobile applications, personal URLs, social media assets and new transactional assets within the Virtual Venue beyond ticket sales.

What new technologies or strategies have you used in any recent projects?
The Ticketmaster integration is a very new technology in the sports industry. We’re putting the power in the fans’ hands for the first time and allowing them to decide exactly where they want to sit. Previously, selecting seats was a closed-door process and fans would have to rely on their sales rep to determine if seat upgrades from year to year were possible. Within the next year, this technology will be available not only for upgrades but for new season and individual ticket purchases.

What’s your favourite stadium/sports venue and why?
This is an easy answer. Fenway Park. It’s become modern over the last few years regarding new seating, LEDs etc., yet its core has not changed a bit. The stadium offers great sight lines and really keeps you in the game due to its intimacy; when you are there sitting and watching a game you are reminded why live sports are so much better than any LCD.

Where do you see the stadium market in 10 years’ time?
Within 10 years time, the fan experience inside stadia will switch from a ‘push’ environment where clubs and venues dictate content and interactions to a ‘pull’ environment where fans have access to a much wider array of on-demand content that they control. To illustrate this point, simply look at the progression of stadia from the 1970s and 1980s to present day. In the ‘70s and ‘80s, stadia were designed to serve as multi-purpose venues (Three Rivers Stadium, Metrodome, Astrodome, etc.) and exhibited a very cold, impersonal environment. It wasn’t until 1992 when Camden Yards opened its doors to the public for the first time that clubs began to put fan experience at the forefront of development and architecture. This led to a stadium boom in the US in which each successive stadium tried to improve the fan amenities and experience within the venue. Towards the end of the first decade of the 21st Century, technology became an integral part in developing a better fan experience inside a venue as consumer consumption of digital content began to increase. As we look forward towards the next 10 years, there is no reason to believe that this trend won’t progress significantly and provide fans with more control over their experience inside a stadium.

IOMEDIA will be exhibiting at Stadia Design & Technology Expo 2012, 8 - 10 May 2012. Visit the company at Booth 3064


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