PAC-12: REACHING & ENGAGING FANS
Pac-12.com started as a static website mostly consisting of conference press releases. It then added broadcast games and schedules. How could we make it more attractive/useful to fans?
Find out from fans what mattered most. The three biggest opportunities were 1) pages centered on games/events 2) team and sport-level schedules 3) videos and livestreams.
Event pages became the biggest driver of traffic from Google. We also increased live video viewership and time spent on site.
ID traffic patterns and opportunities
The data analysis and research efforts that contributed to these insights:
Existing traffic data and traffic patterns for website (mobile view too)
Traffic referrer patterns
Cardsorting exercise around sports content to determine what are the most valuable "components" of the sports experience and what we should attach other content to.
Our data showed that collectively event pages (e.g. a USC vs Oregon football game) drew the most traffic, and was the most common first page a fan would land on. Most of that traffic came from Google searches, on phones. This peaked right before and during the events.
So we focused on revamping event pages to optimize for mobile web and feature live video, how to watch, setting alerts, etc. We also did this for more granular schedule pages (e.g. UCLA softball schedule).
(I also was the advocate for creating event pages in the first place, partially based on research I had done at Yahoo! Sports years prior.)
Strategy to leverage Google search
We knew Pac-12 pages weren't going to beat out ESPN for football scores or USCTrojans.com for player pages. But we often had the most video content of Pac-12 teams on a per game basis. So we had a shot at "winning" the SEO game for event pages.
For a year after launch we increased traffic from Google by ~15%. Then Google integrated more event content within their search results. Our traffic dropped some, but not nearly as much as for other sports sites.
Concrete improvements to event template, schedule template, and live video screen
Added How to Watch flow
Added alerts for games and teams
Increased paths to app and tv provider pages
Prioritized content for highest traffic times (right before & during event)
Beefed up the pre, during, and post game states of events listed to promote live viewership and watching postgame highlights.
Also added alert options and promotional slots for related Pac-12 hosted games.
Live video included both Pac-12 Network televised games and events that were livestreamed by the universities themselves, e.g. a Stanford USC men's tennis match.
Because that livestream was the only place to watch that event the average viewing lengths for these streams were 12-18 minutes. That meant we could utilize the real estate around the video player with alert sign-ups and ads, since the long avg viewing time meant higher value for advertisers.