Stagwell launched an augmented reality experience with the Los Angeles Rams and the NFL’s SoFi Stadium last weekend as part of the team’s ongoing efforts to engage fans and keep them connected during games.
The in-stadium app is designed to be used during matches at the venue to engage fans, especially younger ones, while they attend in person. Now Stagwell is extending it to an in-home AR experience for those who are also watching from home. The NFL game features live AR effects, interactive content coordinated with touchdowns, player animations, and other game-related prizes and contests.
“Soccer [is a] choreographed production,” said Josh Beatty, founder and CEO of ARound, the unit of Stagwell that develops AR experiences for customers. “It’s something that happens all the time. So first we wanted to figure out how we could fit into that experience, because what we don’t want to be is a distraction. We really want to be a addition in order to create an interaction with the gameday.
The initiative is led by ARound, which first launched the AR platform in August with the Minnesota Twins at Target Field in Minneapolis. As with the Rams, the goal is for fans to have a live experience through games and other immersive content and engage with others in the stadium.
ARound found the results with the Twins to be promising, especially since baseball tends to have a lot of downtime throughout the game. In this case, the app has been particularly successful in attracting younger fans, Beatty said. Although there are usually about 18 minutes of action in a baseball game, the average engagement time on the app was more than 25 minutes per fan, he added.
“When we came to the Twins, we quickly realized that one of the biggest challenges in sports is how to engage young fans in particular,” Beatty told Digiday. “In baseball, where there’s so much time out and so many distractions, they’re competing with all forms of entertainment. So with the Twins, we’ve really focused our content on that younger audience.
Stagwell is among many agencies developing AR and VR content as clients experience games, immersive experiences and other metaverse technologies. Augmented reality itself has been around for years – remember Pokémon Go? Some agree that in-game advertising can particularly appeal to a younger generation, as is the case with video game channels like esports.
“Marketers need to track which channels their users spend the most time on,” said Mateusz Jędrocha, head of upper funnel solutions at marketing firm RTB House. “It presents the brand in a non-intrusive way to reach an audience that is eager to learn new things, has high purchasing power and appreciates brands that can speak their language. This is particularly important for reaching not only the Generation Z, but also the general population, because the game is more popular than ever.
ARound, part of the Stagwell Marketing Cloud, uses 3D spatial computing to localize content for users on the site. With the ARound Stadium app, fans can point their devices at the pitch and interact with different elements of the space. And for those watching from home, the game-day AR experience is mirrored with events at SoFi Stadium, and they can also participate in the games and live content.
The Rams’ 70,000 square foot Infinity Screen will also display real-time gameplay content with these AR effects, such as a touchdown or when the team enters the stadium. Additionally, some key players on the team, including Aaron Donald and Bobby Wagner, will receive special animations.
ARound plans to go beyond sports games and expand to other live events, such as music concerts, and connect it with more experiences at home. Beatty argues that this kind of platform can work with any place where people gather and want to amplify the live experience. He said this type of content was designed for a world of short-lived video entertainment.
“We really want to tackle all live events,” Beatty said. “We’re really tapping into something that combines education with excitement and entertainment, and we think that really creates the foundation for a lifelong fandom.”
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