Inside the Making of the PGA TOUR’s Must-See Event

by Nate Smith

posted on 03-31-2020

Creating a must-see event is no easy task, and it requires a bit more than hope and optimism. From streaming services to social media, the internet has given consumers more digital experiences than anyone has time for. The PGA TOUR had to view themselves as an entertainment brand, driven by technology. And just like the best in entertainment, the brand had to connect creativity and content to data, driving experiences with real impact. A suite of Adobe apps from creativity software, to analytics and web content management, have played a role in helping the PGA TOUR design, deliver, and measure great fan experiences.

Countdown to August

The FedExCup Playoffs are the pinnacle of the golf season. There is a unique tempo in how it is promoted, and a level of grit and energy that is different from the rest of the year. This created a tall order for the creative and content team, who had roughly eight weeks to deliver over 1,500 deliverables. So, how did they do it?

Incredible proficiencies were driven by taking advantage of integrations amongst creativity apps. They also built a foundation of shared assets (such as smart objects) to avoid duplicative work. Most impressive of all, there was an adherence to data as a guide. The team felt that bringing art and data together would not stifle creativity but enhance it, and that a beautiful piece of digital content also had to perform well. A close collaboration with the marketing organization meant that individuals could understand whether it was artistic direction and copy that needed work, or if content was being delivered to the wrong channel.

According to Dave Piccolo, VP of Creative Studio for the PGA TOUR, “Design and brand voice have become a critical part of how brands engage customers. In some cases, great design or content becomes an experience in and of itself. Consumers have a high bar for what they connect to, and it is driving creators to move beyond gut instinct in their work. We have to better understand what makes fans tick, especially in peak moments like the FedExCup Playoffs. Most creatives I know grew up with Adobe tools, and I can remember a day when the apps hardly spoke to each other. The integrations in Adobe Creative Cloud have completely changed this, and it frees up an incredible amount of time. It allows us to work much more closely with our marketing team and better understand the impact of our work.”

The Hand-Off

Creative deliverables and the marketing channels sit on one continuous data loop. Deep analytics enable the PGA TOUR to better understand how audiences differ (across curious, casual, and core fans), where they engage, and the type of experience they respond best to. This goes all the way down to the most engaging stories, or even fonts and colors. A key learning on the content side, for example, was that certain audiences want more than details on skill level and performance, a mainstay of sports content. They crave an inside look at the games themselves, as well as stories about individual players and their work in the community. In short, they look for a reason to be a fan.

The FedExCup Playoffs itself introduced a set of new considerations. In the lead-up, the data informed how the newly introduced creative and content were pushed out, giving teams an ability to make tweaks in real time based on performance metrics. It also helped the teams in targeting new audiences, such as promotion during other sporting events that brought high drama. During the tournament itself, an operation was set up to push out content in real time as it happened, with ongoing measurement of how fans engaged certain assets. In the app, for instance, which sees 10 times higher engagement compared to other channels, web traffic was measured on a minute-by-minute basis to see the impact of mobile push messages.

According to Scott Gutterman, VP of digital operations for the PGA TOUR, “The PGA TOUR has seen a great deal of change, as we acknowledged that we were competing for attention with everything from a new Netflix show to a YouTube series. It has been an important realization, as it pushed us to adopt technology more aggressively in ways that would benefit the fan experience. We went from not having a single data analyst to a culture now where every decision is based on what data is telling us. Adobe Analytics has been an important tool for us to understand how fans are experiencing the brand, with insights that helped unravel complexities and drive change. The visual, drag-and-drop interface also allows us to see correlations we may have missed, while allowing us to be more creative in how we consume and present data findings.”

The Adobe Creative Cloud is the official creative software, and the Adobe Experience Cloud is the official digital experience platform, of the PGA TOUR and PGA TOUR Champions. These apps help them become a true Customer Experience Management (CXM) company.

Topics: Adobe Summit, Digital Transformation, News, Customer Stories

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