NASCAR Drives Digital Transformation: From Gears And Grease To Millennials and eSports
Digital Transformation – How do you reinvent a 70-year-old brand? By focusing on the core value you’ve always delivered, says NASCAR chief digital officer Tim Clark … while reinventing how you deliver it. And there’s no finish line.
Digital transformation – taking a traditional business to a modern digital business, is a core challenge of most non-technology, non-startup companies. I recently spoke to Box CEO Aaron Levie about how his company is helping other companies transform. And I had the chance to chat with State Farm’s chief digital officer and CTO about 15 keys to successful digital transformation that they’ve learned throughout their journey.
Last week I had the chance to do the same with Tim Clark, chief digital officer of NASCAR, and John Martin, who leads digital ops at one of America’s oldest and most-loved brands. They’re using data and AI via Adobe’s Experience Cloud to unify their customer data, customize experiences, and personalize messaging. As a result, they’re bridging the physical and digital world, increasing fan engagement, and entering new markets like eSports and augmented reality. Here’s what they shared:
John Koetsier: Let’s start at the beginning: what does NASCAR really sell?
Clark: It’s experiences. We are an entertainment product, and we are constantly looking for ways to create a great experience for our fans. At the top of the list is attending a race in person, but also with fantastic broadcast partners we can deliver that on broadcast media.
And we fill the rest in with digital media experiences.
John Koetsier: Why does NASCAR need to reinvent itself? And how are you doing it?
Clark: Prior to 2012 we outsourced the management of our digital platforms to Turner Sports. We brought those back in house and got up and running in 2013.
Since then, digital-based insights have permeated the company. We initially saw launching digital in NASCAR as one piece of the pie, but actually it touches everything.
We try to reinvent ourselves every year. We’re constantly trying to improve based on data and learning. We now have access to so much data and insights so we can pretty quickly tell what’s working and what’s not.
It’s an ongoing reinvention … there’s no finish line. And we’ll continue to evolve.
One of the most important parts of the transformation journey we’ve been going on for the last few years is that we’re getting smarter every year.
John Koetsier: Talk to me about the NASCAR demographic. From the outside, it would seem to be older. How are you reaching new fans while keeping existing fans?
Clark: It very much mirrors the demographics of the United States, actually. We’re really well in line with that.
But, we’re creating opportunities to reach younger audiences and newer audiences via augmented reality and esports … we’re looking for ways to reach fans where they are.
We don’t want to get too caught up in different tech platforms and whether they’ll scale, but it’s important for us to be where the fans are. We have no illusions that augmented reality will reach a ton of people, but if there are fans that are completely new to the sport … we should be where they are and it’s incumbent on us to reach as broad an audience as possible. We certainly want to continue to serve our existing fans while also reaching new fans. And we’re able to do that through data.
John Koetsier: Let’s talk about eSports. It’s super-hot right now, and you have major-league sports owners investing in eSports as well as gaming companies. What is NASCAR doing here?
Clark: We’re very, very excited about where we are with esports. We have two primary eSports platforms: iRacing, which is a simulated racing product on PC, and console games. In terms of iRacing, there are drivers that are racing at the top level of the sport today and part of their journey has included iRacing.
Essentially, this game that is driving the next generation of NASCAR stars. NBC Sports Network broadcasts it live, and 17-year-old just won the championship. Funny story: there were media opportunities, but he was busy attending high school! And we have a partnership with 704 Games to produce the Nascar console game. On the console side it’s more of a mass-market play. Now we’re able to reach fans where they are. We have team involvement. This is the first year of this league, but eSports will continue to be a bigger and bigger piece of our future.
This article originally appeared on forbes.com To read the full article and see the images, click here.
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