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Urban Zoo’s Gamechanger enhances the digital experience

A host of British football clubs have adopted Urban Zoo's Gamechanger platform - a revolution in fan engagement and monetisation.

A host of British football clubs have adopted Urban Zoo’s Gamechanger platform which has become a revolution in fan engagement and monetisation. 

In a critical time for the sports industry, technology company Urban Zoo has transformed the performance of digital platforms for UK clubs such as Aston Villa, Sheffield United, Fulham, Stoke City, Everton, Middlesbrough, Wigan Athletic and even Scottish powerhouse Celtic. 

Chris Grannell and Rob Moore are the pioneers behind the Warrington-based technology company and has become a revolution for British football. 

“We provide the ability to integrate clubs’ apps, web sites, streaming services and retail platforms via a single sign-on (SSO),” Grannell said.  

“Clubs get a single fan view, helping them better understand their behaviour and allowing them to tailor bespoke offers. Even though the system behind it is a ‘bespoke platform’ we can craft a unique user interface that makes every site individual to its host club.” 

Fulham FC wanted to review its brand and subsequently turned to Gamechanger to help present the club’s unique identity more strongly online after a detailed competitor audit. 

“We now have SSO in place across the club’s main website, ticketing, retail and TV online properties, and will roll that out to a new club app shortly,” Fulham’s head of marketing Jack Burrows said.  

“Few clubs currently have this full breadth of functionality, and since launching the new website in September this year the overall feedback has been extremely positive.” 

The combination of managing content and maximising potential revenue opportunities online has been just as important as stronger fan experience. 

“Our previous system was falling down, and the website behind where we wanted to be positioned as a club,” Burrows said. 

“It was incredibly difficult to modernise user journeys and unlock online potential across content consumption and engagement, as well as commercial and e-commerce opportunities.  

“Gamechanger has allowed our commercial team to monetise new digital assets, and by enhancing site functionality across desktop and mobile, simplifying the front-end navigation and working with a strengthened back end system, Gamechanger is continuing to allow us to innovate more and drive forward digitally.” 

More fans now want to engage with clubs’ digital assets given it’s easier, more intuitive and more enjoyable to do so.  

Premier League club Sheffield United are one of Urban Zoo’s partners.

“Our multi-platform traffic is up by more than 200 per cent,” Aston Villa’s digital product manager, Ben Startin said. 

“We’re a big club and when we made announcements such as player signings we’d get huge spikes in web use but our legacy system would fall over.  

“It was driving fans off-line and got so bad they were developing memes mocking our web performance. That’s completely reversed now and whilst the spikes in usage remain huge, Gamechanger can handle all the traffic thrown at it.” 

“The whole platform is so easy use. We had just one training session for the team and they’ve been able to make the system fly from the off. 

“There’s no way that an enterprise software platform could have delivered all this in just four months.” 

All clubs agree that Urban Zoo’s approach to client management has been extremely beneficial. 

“They’re footy people,” Wigan’s Ashley Houghton said.  

“They don’t hide behind account managers and flannel: you get talk to the techies direct and they’re a constant source of great ideas.  

“When Jonty Castle (now CEO at AFC Fylde) brought them he said they ‘got it’ and he was right. Some of our most enjoyable brainstorming sessions have been with their team.” 

Startin from Aston Villa has also been impressed with Urban Zoo’s passion towards transforming football clubs. 

“You can see Urban Zoo’s football pedigree from the way Gamechanger has been designed, but also in their proactivity,” he said.  

“They work on a fixed licence-fee model, which makes working with them much more budgetable. It’s a very transparent and commercial approach which helps avoid nasty surprises.” 

For Matt Gamble at Everton, they have been able to use Gamechanger to accelerate the performance of the Toffees’ newly-launched app. 

“Our focus is on massively increasing the regularity of fans’ usage,” he said.  

“The platform has allowed us to completely revamp the push notification system, letting fans tailor what notifications they want to receive. 

“We can also now create mobile- specific experiences such as competitions or games exclusively for the app and it offers much better integration with our video provider.  

“We can now deliver live video or audio, providing another reason for fans to keep visiting.” 

Urban Zoo currently has 12 clubs and organisations as clients.

Chris Grannell and fellow director Rob Moore at Urban Zoo have built a platform that has already delivered positive outcomes for many UK-based football clubs. Deeper integration and knowledge of fan’s needs will be delved deeper with a new Sports CRM proposition to integrate seamlessly with Gamechanger. 

“With easy and intuitive interrogation it will provide clubs with all the behavioural analysis, segmentation and loyalty tracking they could ever need,” Grannell said. 

“It will mean another step up in how they communicate with fans. We’re taking direct marketing to another level and it is British football leading the way.” 

Another big leap forward will come by seeking an improvement on personalisation for fans. 

“We’re now working on a big change in ensuring that each fan engagement feels instantly bespoke, at point of sign-in,” Moore said.  

“Fans want to be presented with what they are interested in. They want to be recognised as the type of fan they are, with a user experience personalised to their preferences.

“It’ll have a huge impact on generating additional spend and user satisfaction.”

You can find out more about Urban Zoo and Gamechanger here. 

Liam Watson is the Managing Editor at Soccerscene. He reports widely on football policy, industry matters and technology.

FIFA and EA Sports end 30-year deal

As reported by the New York Times on Wednesday, gaming giant EA Sports and world football governing body FIFA have parted ways.

The partnership dated back to 1993, when FIFA International Soccer was launched for the SEGA Genesis.

Their current partnership was set to expire at the conclusion of the Qatar World Cup, with a new deal aiming to branch out into new areas – including NFTs.

It was reported that EA made a ‘significant offer’ for an eight-year exclusivity deal with FIFA for all of its Esports and gaming rights. However, the deal was knocked back, according to Reuters, as FIFA did not want the rights all with one company.

FIFA 23 will be the last game made in collaboration between the two organisations, set to release in late September this year, worldwide.

The FIFA series was estimated at the start of 2021 to have sold over 325 million units, according to ForbesFIFA 18 is the equal 40th highest selling video game of all time, estimated at 24 million units across all platforms.

FIFA confirmed it would still produce video games with third party developers, while EA will rebrand the FIFA series under the title EA Sports FC. The new series would include licensees such as the Premier League and LaLiga, which at this stage has authentic coverage, as all players are face scanned and the full broadcast packages akin to real life are featured in the game.

SocaLoca: Revolutionising talent identification and tournament organising

SocaLoca co-founders Lionel Foy and Sayf Ismail are providing more opportunity for footballers across the world with their innovative platform.

The concept was born in 2016 when the two first met, and now the SocaLoca app is used by national federations in Belize and Cameroon for tournament organising.

There are two main goals of the platform. Equalising talent identification and becoming a hotspot for football tournaments and data.

Foy and Ismail recognised that the pathways for footballers in some countries weren’t as equal as others. Smaller or less resourced countries and continents simply don’t have the infrastructure that the big footballing powers do globally.

The app operates in a similar way to statistics platforms like FotMob or Transfermarkt, where player profiles and stats are collated for fans and other interested parties to view. However, there is also a self-management aspect to it.

Footballers can download the platform and build their own profile, showcasing their achievements, statistics, results and more for anyone to see. This goes from juniors all the way up to seniors.

This gives those players from lesser resourced regions the opportunity to be seen and scouted like any other player, from when they’re first starting out to battling their way up through the footballing pyramid.

Co-founder Arif Sayuti.

While there are concerns around the data-sharing implicit to the platform, measures have been put in place. Players aged between 7 and 12 must be registered by their guardians and have a limit on what information can be displayed on their public profiles.

The global interconnectedness that an app like SocaLoca offers is unlike anything seen in world football to date.

The other side of the platform is its use in tournament organisation. This links in with the player profiles, where players are registered within tournaments and competitions and have their results and statistics linked to their profiles.

SocaLoca’s Competition Management Module has already seen successful use in Uganda, Belize and Cameroon, and can be used by anyone on the platform.

Football Federation Belize is now using the SocaLoca app to organise and run all regional competitions, while Cameroon’s national football academy is now a partner of SocaLoca.

Results and statistics in countries all over the world are now available to recruiters and talent identifiers, making it easier for those who would be otherwise overlooked to get their chance.

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