NEW YORK: US sports teams are increasingly looking to tap into the huge volumes of data generated by fans using smartphones in order to both improve the stadium experience and deliver better marketing.

The recently opened $1.6bn Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, home to the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons and the MLS’s Atlanta United FC, exemplifies the trend, Ad Exchanger suggested.

It has been designed with mobile connectivity in mind, down to the installation of arresting visuals like the huge bird sculpture that many fans take pictures of and post on social media – with activity then tracked via wi-fi and proximity beacons to assess how the fan experience can be improved while at the same time supplying data for marketing purposes.

“Point-of-sales systems, ticket check, wi-fi, video, audio, internet, communications and a host of other things all need to work seamlessly for fans to have a great experience,” said Shannon Miller, associate partner at IBM, which is the technology integration consultant for the stadium owner, Arthur M Blank Sports and Entertainment (AMBSE).

Technology such as app-based parking assistance and paper-free ticketing also helps make the process of getting into the stadium easier – and with fans subsequently spending more time there they are more likely to purchase merchandise and notice sponsor messages.

For the majority of teams who aren’t going to be investing in a purpose built stadium any time soon, putting money into boosting stadium bandwidth may be their best bet, according to Amanda Cifu, senior marketing manager for the NHL’s Florida Panthers.

“We had some outage problems last year because video takes a lot more bandwidth, and there are just more phones looking for service,” she said. “That doesn’t need to happen much before you realize overspending on wi-fi pays off big time.”

Not only are fans happier, but by handing over email addresses or linking their Facebook accounts to get access to the free wi-fi, the marketing team gets “a nightly dump of emails and contacts that keeps the top of our sales funnel fresh,” Cifu said.

“Bandwidth is the necessary starting point for a lot of next-steps we’d like to take for things like measurement, in-stadium messaging or mobile payments,” she added.

Data sourced from Ad Exchanger; additional content by WARC staff