COLORADO SPRINGS: The National Football League (NFL) is taking a "balanced" approach on digital as it strives to drive reach while also meeting the needs of long-standing fans.

Tom Brady, the NFL's VP/Social Media and Emerging Programming, discussed this topic at the Association of National Advertisers' (ANA) 2016 Digital & Social Media Conference.

And he reported that the football league has a mission to tempt consumers to visit its branded digital properties, which contain a diverse range of content tailored to each platform.

"This is the tightrope," he said. "We need to make sure we are growing our reach, growing our engagement – and our reach is cool and exciting." (For more, including further details, read Warc's exclusive report: NFL's social platforms lead to brand loyalty, sales.)

"But it's very important we make sure we maintain balance," he continued. "We have a bunch of owned and operated assets we need to make sure are healthy; that fans are going to them; and that people think they are the source of truth."

One example of how the NFL has innovated in the digital space involves 45 players who have started utilising Snapchat since they were given the league's log-on credentials earlier this year.

Data plays a central role in understanding exactly what messaging will prove popular, Brady told the ANA attendees: "That is the direct correlation and direct connection to your fans, your user base, or your consumer."

But the demand for "balance" is equally present in this area, too, as the NFL must weigh its commercial interests with the passion points of fans.

"When it comes to content creation, we need to make sure it doesn't feel like we are selling out, but that it also is done in a smart way," Brady said.

And while facts and figures are important in making decisions, he reported that brand custodians should "trust their gut" to an extent, too. "If you think like a fan, and your gut tells you it's a good piece of content, it probably is," he argued.

Data sourced from Warc