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Atlanta Is Ready for Positive Economic Impact During Super Bowl Week

Last year, Super Bowl LII generated an estimated $450 million in new spending to Minneapolis, but historical Super Bowl economic impact is felt nationwide.

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Businesses in Atlanta, and across the country, are about to experience a major surge.

The Super Bowl activates a significant amount of economic activity not seen on normal weekends, both in the host city and communities across the U.S.

Last year, Super Bowl LII in Minneapolis brought an estimated $450 million in new spending to Minnesota, according to a report prepared by Rockport Analytics for the Minnesota Super Bowl Host Committee. The report also noted state and local tax receipts of more than $32 million.

According to the report, last year’s Minnesota Super Bowl was tied for the third-most estimated economic activity since 1989. Atlanta’s previous Super Bowls in the time period was less than $200 million in 1994 and nearly $350 million in 2000 — not adjusted for inflation. Phoenix, in 2015, had the highest impact at $719 million.

Most businesses see a massive increase in online activity, said Zahid Zakaria, the senior director of insights and analytics at Yext, which is an online brand management system that helps businesses control information across more than 100 sites and apps.

READ MORE: A Huge Gap in Economic Impact Numbers Begs the Question: Are Bowl Games Worth It?

As the company manages its clients’ information and keeps brands consistent, Yext also collects massive amounts of data and trends, like the economic activity impact of the Super Bowl.

“Imagine, we’re powering businesses worldwide, so we’ve got different types of information captured from all different types of publisher sources,” Zakaria said.

Yext had a small study from Super Bowl LI in Houston and wanted to build upon it last year in Minnesota. The information ranges from hospitality businesses like bars, restaurants and hotels to liquor stores, grocery stores and even financial services like ATMs. Banking-service Google searches increased eight percent on the Friday before Super Bowl LII, followed by a 20 percent drop the next week.

“My personal favorites are grocery stores; they see a rise in searches prior to a Super Bowl, 14 percent week over week in the host city versus six percent in other cities.”

Zakaria said it’s not all about online activity, but phone calls also surge.

“Perhaps expect more call volume,” Zakaria said. “If I’m going to buy beer at a store, I want to know if they’ll have all the other stuff I need before I go in.”

Sporting good stores in Minneapolis saw an increase of 41 percent week over week on the Friday before Super Bowl LII, with website clicks on the stores up 250 percent the same day. Sporting good stores across the rest of the nation saw a 10-percent dip, suggesting the only sports merchandise that matters that weekend is attached to the Super Bowl and the two teams participating. 

Hotels experienced a 62 percent week-over-week search increase on Super Bowl Sunday in Minneapolis, while the rest of the nation dropped 11 percent.

The increase in hotels makes sense, as nearly 125,000 visitors descended on Minneapolis in a 10-day period for Super Bowl LII, according to the Rockport Analytics report. The three-day period of the Super Bowl boasted an average daily room demand of 38,700 at a $330 average daily rate. The 88-percent occupancy was 35 percent more than the five-year average of the same period. Airbnb saw a 728-percent increase in daily demand (4,900 rooms). The report also noted there’s an increase in convention interest when a Super Bowl is held in a city and the city gets to show off for a global audience.

READ MORE: Inside the Revenue Generation and Marketing Frenzy of a Super Bowl

The Super Bowl isn’t the only massive sporting event Yext has tracked. Last year, it tracked online engagement of pubs in England during the 2018 World Cup in Russia. The tracking also included other nations, but few were as significant as the bump England-based businesses experienced during the nation’s games.

“The timeline of pubs’ peaks align exactly with the days England was playing,” Zakaria said. “It was a tsunami of interest. Once England was out, things went quiet.”

Oddly enough, searches for bars and liquor stores in Minneapolis on Super Bowl Sunday last year dropped 10 percent against the previous week. The rest of the country saw a 34-percent increase the same day — due to consumers watching at a bar or buying supplies for a home party.

Zakaria’s major takeaway was businesses need to prepare for surges no matter where they are for the Super Bowl, and other major sporting events. In the past, this was a natural assumption, but now businesses are able to use better information to predict the upticks to adequately staff and offer Super Bowl promotions.

Pat Evans is a writer based in Las Vegas, focusing on sports business, food, and beverage. He graduated from Michigan State University in 2012. He's written two books: Grand Rapids Beer and Nevada Beer. Evans can be reached at pat@frntofficesport.com.

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Elias Sports Bureau Continues Evolution While Staying in the Family

Longtime owner Seymour Siwoff hands over the reins of the sports statistics company to his grandson Joe Gilston after nearly 70 years at the helm.

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Following nearly 70 years under the same leadership, Elias Sports Bureau has changed hands — but stayed in the family. New owner Joe Gilston now hopes he can continue the visionary leadership his grandfather was able to grow Elias into a dominant brand within sports statistics.

Seymour Siwoff, Gilston’s grandfather, purchased the company in 1952. In the ensuing seven decades at the helm of Elias, he led the company through a variety of evolutionary periods to coincide with changing consumption habits for sports fans and organizations alike. Now serving as the firm’s president, Gilston expects to continue the drive forward into new mediums. While terms of the deal weren’t disclosed, the Gilston-led Joseph Gilson Trust took control of the business.

Elias was established in 1913 by brothers Al and Walter Elias with a focus on baseball statistics. Under Siwoff, Elias grew from its original designation as official statistician of Major League Baseball to also become the official statistical partner of the National Football League, National Basketball Association, National Hockey League, Women’s National Basketball Association and Major League Soccer.

READ MORE: ‘GM School’ Gives Fans an Inside Look at the NBA, SAP Partnership

Early in Siwoff’s career, computers presented an efficient way to better keep historical statistical databases, and he utilized the machines when few others in business were. The use of computers allowed Elias employees to ask specific questions and create storylines around the massive amounts of information.

“My grandfather saw the opportunity and saw the future of sports statistics,” Gilston said. “He saw what a personal computer could mean for sports statistics when there were very few across the country.”

Elias’ revenue was also driven by partnerships with newspapers for much of its early history and the company still publishes the annual The Elias Book of Baseball Records, a hard-copy source of official baseball records available for purchase on the company’s website. Then, as media consumption transitioned to television, the decision to provide services such as current and historical notes to broadcasters and sports networks including MLB Network, NFL Network, NHL, Network, ESPN, Turner Sports, Comcast and NESN has been crucial to the keeping Elias at the forefront of statistical storytelling. Next came the internet, where the company provides back-end support for statistics on websites and also serves as the primary statistical resource for ESPN and CBSSports websites.

Unsurprisingly, Gilston already has his sights set on the next frontier.

“Partnerships will evolve and now partners are thinking mobile-first so we’re figuring out how to tell a story on a smaller screen,” he said. “That’s very much what we’re thinking.”

All of that plus round-the-clock customer support has helped a business-to-business company focused on telling stories through statistics stay relevant in an age where more and new types of data are available than ever before.

“The business has continued to grow as opportunities have presented themselves and figuring out how we can help businesses,” Gilston said. “The landscape of sports and therefore sports statistics is ever-evolving, particularly with how the public now consumes sports. We are excited by this transition and well-positioned to continue the essential role we play in tracking the evolution of sports.”

With a strong client base and a deep history, Siwoff is confident the company will continue to seize opportunities as they emerge under the watch of his grandson.  

“I am quite certain that the company will continue to prosper under Joe’s leadership,” Siwoff said. “Joe appreciates all that we have accomplished over the years, and he has the smarts, passion, creativity and talents to lead Elias and our terrific employees to new heights in a new technological age.”

READ MORE: Former Pro Baseball Player Shows Value of Athletes In Data Tech World

It makes for a remarkable homecoming story. Gilston joined Elias after college, first in lower-level data-entry positions before working his way up into more research-heavy jobs. Five years into his first stint at Elias, Gilston left to pursue other career opportunities until a chance to take over for Siwoff emerged.

For now, Gilston doesn’t foresee too many immediate changes, if any at all. He’ll have a friendly face to help guide him, too: Siwoff still shows up to work at 98 years old.  

“There’s a comfort level there to some degree,” Gilston said about the ownership staying in the family. “I’ve certainly grown up with the company, and it’s something I think about a lot, that this is continuing my grandfather’s legacy and the opportunity to take the reins and see what’s next for the company.”

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Data Is Changing the Way the NHL Does Business

Whether it’s on the ice, on an iPad, or in a TV broadcast, the NHL is going all in on data, and it is fundamentally changing how it does business as an organization.

Adam White

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The NHL wants to play #HiTechHockey.

“We absolutely are a data company. It’s affecting everything that we do.”

One conversation with Senior Vice President of Business Development & Global Partnerships for the National Hockey League David Lehanski, and the future is quite obvious.

The ability to collect, analyze, package, and deliver data is one of the biggest opportunities the league has.

The league knows it, its partners know it, the NHLPA knows it, and that’s why they’re all leaning into it.

Alongside sports betting, the rise of data has arguably the biggest chance to impact the industry in 2019 and beyond — and the NHL feels as if it is ready to capitalize.

While sports betting might be sexier to talk about and the numbers are bigger, behind the scenes, data is powering everything from how bookmakers make lines to the information being tracked by wearable devices attached to players.

“People were way more cautious a few years ago when we first started this. Pretty much everyone involved now understands this data is just telling us what’s happening on the ice. We want to be able to tell those stories, and that’s good for everybody. It’s good for the players, it’s good for the agents, it’s good for us, it’s good for the PA, it’s good for broadcast, and it’s good for our fans.” – David Lehanski, Senior Vice President of Business Development & Global Partnerships for the National Hockey League

One of the main players behind making this happen is SAP. A longstanding partner of the NHL, SAP and the league have teamed up on a few recent initiatives that have brought about new insight to both fans, players, and coaches.

The first move was to redesign the overall experience for the NHL to create better and faster experiences in regards to data, stats, and analytics. The two parties took that a step further this year after the league and Apple saw success with their integrated coaching system they debuted in 2017.

“After we released the first version, it became clear to us that (coaches and players) were looking for complementary stats and data to augment the highlights we were delivering to them,” noted Lehanski. “Because of this, we partnered with SAP to work with Apple to build a coaching insights app that would integrate certain data points into the same system.”

While not finished yet, it’s Lehanski’s hope that the system will be ready to go for the second half of the season.

The NHL as a Data Company

Of the top-five most valuable companies in the world, the case can be made that data plays a large, if not the dominant role in the success of each of them.

While it may not be able to replicate the successes of the Apple’s and Alphabet’s of the world, the NHL sees a bright future ahead thanks to data that it has never seen — let alone analyzed — before.

“Data, the collection of it, and the analysis of it is a major focus for us,” added Lehanski. “We know that that this data is incredibly valuable to a number of groups. It will help our coaches and our players be able to make decisions more quickly, and it’s going to help our media partners with regard to how they present the game so they can think of new, innovative ways to pull viewers deeper into the broadcast.”

With everyone set to benefit from the data points, the league is working closely with the NHLPA to determine what data they are going to distribute and how they are going to do it.

As for now, there are no plans for what data will be shared and how it will be shared with partners like MGM.

There are plans, however, to make it a major part of the way fans experience the game on both linear networks and streaming platforms.

With the first iterations of products like this appearing in broadcasts in 1996 thanks to FoxTrax, the league saw plenty of opportunities ahead. Although it would be until more recently that initiatives like we have seen come to fruition, Lehanski credits the league’s timeline for innovation, as well as the recent trends in the industry, as to why it seems like all of the sudden these new opportunities are popping up left and right.

“As we went from test, to test, to test, all of these factors and new developments in the sports and entertainment industry as it relates to gaming, betting, and fantasy were coming to a head at the same time.”

Read More: NHL Fan Fair Gives Fans Look at New Coaching Tool in VR Game

Talk about the perfect storm — one that is also changing the way the league does business.

“We certainly are a data company, but at the end of the day, we’re still a league too,” noted Lehanski as he spoke about the league’s future. “There’s a lot that we will always need to do with regard to managing the game on the ice, the rules, catering to our fans, and creating incredible live events. That’ll never change, but data is helping us to change, evolve, and enhance the way we do all of that.”

Although the data might not have all the answers, it isn’t a bad place to start.

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Inside the Formation of NASCAR’s Analytics and Insights Department

Using quantitative research and social media data together is an example of the new holistic approach NASCAR is taking under Norris Scott’s leadership.

Kraig Doremus

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In 2016, NASCAR took a major step in its ability to leverage data and make informed decisions within the sport through the creation of its analytics and insights group. Vice President Norris Scott worked to create an integrated team that serves not only NASCAR, but teams, tracks, and NASCAR’s official sponsors through the use of data.

“It was a big moment for NASCAR when we created this team,” said Scott. “It was a signal of our commitment to elevate the role of data in our sport.”

The Formation and Basics

Previously, there were four to five different groups of employees servicing various aspects of the sport while managing data. One group might focus on television, while another handled social media metrics and engagement, and another measured digital media.

“We integrated vital research functions, staff, and tools,” said Scott. “It’s been a great move, and one of the biggest benefits is that it gets everyone talking and engaging with each other. Today’s sports fan is following sports so differently than yesterday, and our team now reflects that. Each week we are talking about TV viewership, digital page views, fantasy game usage, streaming usage, social media engagement, race driver likeability, and fan sentiment. It all connects. It’s important that we are able to work together to understand our audience in this way.”

Performance-Based Sponsorships

In addition to looking at social and digital engagement, Scott and the analytics group serve several of NASCAR’s official sponsors. While there are a variety of ways that the group has done work for partners, one of the most unique examples is with Anheuser-Busch and the Busch Pole Award.

READ MORE: How NASCAR Stays Up to Speed in the Ever-Changing Digital Space

Anheuser-Busch moved towards a performance-based sponsorship, which creates a true partnership between the two groups and eliminates the “one-size-fits-all” sponsorship approach.

“With Anheuser-Busch, we agreed on data used to measure the sponsorship, whether it was awareness or social metrics, and we share that data with each other,” said Scott. “We have seen some NASCAR sponsors receive 4-1 and even 10-1 return on investment. The data supports it. That’s why we have more Fortune 100 brands in our sport than other sports.”

Proud Moment: The Roval at Charlotte Motor Speedway

For Scott, one of the proudest moments of his time as vice president of the analytics and insights department came this fall when instead of a traditional 500-mile race on the 1.5-mile oval, the Roval debuted during Charlotte Motor Speedway’s playoff race weekend.

“The Roval is a great example of a stakeholder using data to drive results, ” said Scott. “We knew that it would be a big change and the track would be different from anything we’d ever seen. One of the attributes we studied was the fact that it would be unpredictable. Fans thrive on unpredictability, and our research helped us understand that.”

Scott and his team worked with both the track and its parent company, Speedway Motorsports Inc., to geo-target fans in the Charlotte, N.C. area. The group used its proprietary Fan Council community and looked at fans who attend races each year and “lapsed” fans who had not been to the track in recent years.

“We quickly found out that many lapsed fans were curious about the Roval, and we knew it could bring them back to the track,” said Scott. “We also knew that some fans were “oval purists,” so we had to figure out a way to sell them on the concept.”

Scott and crew then worked with Charlotte Motor Speedway’s customer relations management (CRM) software to be able to talk to fans. The initial goal was to validate the prior research and then begin to further flesh out some concepts with fans who had been attending races at Charlotte for several years in a row.

“A number of fans liked the concept because of the unpredictability it would bring in the playoffs,” said Scott. “Beyond that, the Roval was perceived as innovative, and fans knew that it would be memory making. We were able to identify those attributes and advise the speedway based on our findings.”

Scott’s team was also able to use historical social media data to understand fan sentiment around oval tracks versus road courses and share that with the speedway. Using qualitative, quantitative research and social media data together is an example of the new holistic approach NASCAR is taking under Scott’s leadership.

“That data really help us engage in a meaningful way with fans and get their interest piqued about the Roval – the data was actionable,” Scott noted. “We were able to deliver that to Charlotte Motor Speedway. The best part of everything was the results. We saw an increase in both new fans and lapsed fans return to the track. The biggest takeaway is that research is incredibly important. We were able to help deliver results because of our insights.”

Fan and Media Engagement Center

Through the Fan and Media Engagement Center, the analytics and insights department is able to use modern technology and track trending topics and benchmarks, in addition to a host of other data points.

“The FMEC is a great example of NASCAR using technology,” said Scott. “We use it on a daily basis and will track nearly 2.6  billion impressions per year. We are ingesting more third-party data into the center and can look at minute-by-minute data on race consumption.”

One of the best ways that the department stays up to date on trending topics and what’s hot on social and digital media is through a live look at what’s happening on the track. Whether it’s a big wreck or a photo finish, the department can plot what happened on the track at a certain point and look for a spike in engagement on social media and increased television viewership based on what happened.

WATCH: Inside Toyota’s Massive Daytona Activation

Conviva Social Insights, run by Nick Cicero, is one of the partners that helps NASCAR ingest data. For example, if it’s a video of reigning NASCAR champion Joey Logano, the platform Conviva provides can analyze further and show how many viewers were from Logano’s home state of Connecticut.

“The tools and data partnerships we have are vital to our success,” said Scott. “We have a great relationship with Conviva Social Insights. They deliver a great resource for us. Whether it be engagement rates or other metrics, they play an important role in what we do.”

Scott knows that it’s a process to continually improve and strive for the best. While the department has had a great start in its youth, he refuses to be complacent.

“Research departments get stereotyped as passive and just reporting on what happened,” said Scott. “We want to redefine how data is used at NASCAR and elevate it to the forefront of every decision. With the right data and a smart insights team, we unlock the power of the fans — 80 million NASCAR fans — that are the lifeblood of our sport.”

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