At the first tennis Grand Slam of the year, the 2017 Australian Open, new technology was accessible for fans to snap and share their experience whilst they watched the on-court action.
Boston-based company Brizi brought their product BriziCam – a robotic, augmented reality camera system that fans controlled via their mobile phones – to Australia for the first time in January.
BriziCams were mounted above Rod Laver Arena’s centre court and were controlled by fans through a dedicated URL, without needing to download an app. The company worked with Australian Open organisers Tennis Australia and their major airline partner, Emirates Airlines, to provide fans with this premium in-seat experience.
Overall, the results exceeded all expectations.
Throughout the tournament fans used BriziCam to snap and share 34,521 photos, which generated over 6,520,000 social impressions and 376,813 social engagements on Emirates Airlines branded photos across social media. In total it equated to roughly US$900,000 in media value for the airline. Not only were they happy about the volume, but also the incredible quality of content that fans would create with the technology. Throughout the tournament there were even two marriage proposals on the BriziCam!
It effectively ushers in a new way of generating spontaneous yet sponsorable fan content.
Sports Business Insider spoke to Brizi’s Director of Engagement Stefan Kollenberg to give us some insights about the successes in Australia.
Given some of the significant Australian Open statistics on usage, sharing and social engagement, can you add a little bit of insight into what Brizi discovered by bringing their technology to the Australian Open?
“The in-seat contesting that Emirates ran with a live host was one of the more successful forms of promotion we’ve seen when looking at participation and share rate.
“Almost 20 per cent of people who took pictures of themselves were aged 45 or older, everyone deep down just wants a photo at the end of day! They might just not want to stick out their arm for a selfie, so we provide them with a very discreet way to take the perfect photo.
“Fans actually got super creative with their poses, I didn’t know you could lie across four people’s laps in a stadium and not tumble down the stands! Another great one was a guy who actually proposed to his girlfriend on the BriziCam, this capability didn’t exist before fans could use our technology.”
My partner and I used BriziCam before the start of a match at the Australian Open and I felt that bypassing an app download was a big key in us adopting it, plus it was quick and spontaneous to use, do you think that is a big advantage for driving value for sponsors?
“Yes this is a huge part of our product philosophy, the intuitive remote-control of a camera is not something you see every day and so we ensure that the user experience is effortless. Our contact at Tennis Australia was even raving about how his colleagues and friends loved the simplicity of it. In the end, this ease of access is a big part of the sponsorship value. The more photos that get taken, the more value a sponsor will receive.”
Were you able to make discoveries about different types of fan behaviour at the Australian Open compared to the US Open?
“When comparing aggregate fan data, it can be seen that people at both tournaments were using their phones to search for employment, event tickets, travel, investment services, and hotels. Meanwhile, the US Open attendees had much higher interest in post-secondary education, dating services and purchasing mobile phones and Australian Open attendees had a higher interest in gifts and purchasing residential property.
“When comparing demographic data (both pictured below) we can also see that there is a big difference between the tournaments.”
With the Australian Open and the ASB Classic being potential lift-off events for the year, what are the plans for growth and adoption of the company and BriziCam in 2017? Is there events, teams or geographies that is in your sights?
“Nothing we can announce publicly yet but it’s a very exciting 2017 outlook for us in North America, Europe and Australia. One thing we’re looking forward to is our panel discussion at SXSW this month, bringing to life the realities of ambush sponsorship from social platforms.”