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F1 moves to leverage data insights to drive decision-making

F1 moves to leverage data insights to drive decision-making
September 23, 2019

Since its acquisition by US-based Liberty Media in 2017 Formula 1 has begun to use fans of the sport as a source of data for business intelligence strategies, future partnerships and sponsorships.

Sensor technology piloted by F1 has conducted research on fan engagement, experiences, anonymous movements and activations, enabling the organisers to create better experiences in the future and precise reports for sponsors and activations.

Explaining how leveraging data research is enabling a greater understanding of fan experience, David Bailey, Head of Research & Analytics at Formula 1 advises, in an interview conducted by conference organiser IQPC, how the sport is looking at its digital initiatives such as F1 TV, and apps to understand more about what fans are doing outside its immediate tracking capabilities in the offline world.

He explains “understanding more about fan experience at the track is very important to us.

“Before the establishment of our research team in 2017, we released a couple of reports in this space. One of them was a TV viewing report which served as an update for F1’s senior executives, providing insight into how people were watching the events and the other was a sponsorship exposure report.

“They’re both very different to the research we’re doing today but they gave the business exposure across the brand. We use sensor technology at many of our race tracks to detect when fans are in certain ‘zones’.

“These sensors are put up well before a race weekend starts and taken down after.

“We're using the insights to help us understand footfall primarily to help race promoters optimise the location of facilities, stores and activations. A great example is the fan zone, an area which is often full of food stalls, and activities. We’ve found in the past that certain areas might have higher dwell time than others and some areas have higher footfall. Moving facilities around or changing the queue system has been known to make a difference.

“It’s also important to note that we don’t use this in isolation; we complement these findings with on-the-ground ‘vox pops’ and interviews to give a 360 degree view of the experience.”

Asked about how F1 is using this data to provide better reporting for sponsors and drive better experiences for fans, Bailey added “ultimately, sponsors particularly love insight when it comes to areas such as brand exposure. If there’s a sponsored activation, for example, we can tell the brand how many people were near it, how many we estimate actually engaged with it and even how many we think dismissed it.

“Our sponsors are then able to make more informed decisions regarding their brand positioning and presence at our race tracks. We are always striving to improve the fan experience, from top to bottom across the business.

“Sensor technology is of high value to the business, especially given that some tracks are taking in 300,000 visitors.

“We're always open to innovations but our main focus is to continue to get close to the experience and communicate what it's like to be at an F1 track. At the moment, we interview people via video-recorded vox pops and send these back to the leadership team at certain points during the year. This brings the onsite experience to life for those most senior in the company.

“Presenting this as effectively as possible is crucial for our understanding of the fan experience and how we can help improve it.

“One positive outcome has been the introduction of a Grand Prix app which has a venue map, displays what times certain events are on and enables fans to locate where they need to be for each of these at the track. Our research has helped us immensely to bring our fan experience into the 21st century and continue to build on this as we go.”

David Bailey, Head of Research & Analytics at Formula 1, is a speaker at the upcoming Smart Stadium & Arena Congress 2019, being held at the Sydney Cricket Ground from 23rd to 25th October.

Click here to view event details for the Australia and New Zealand Stadium and Arena Congress in the Australasian Leisure Management industry Calendar.

Images: David Bailey speaking at the International Sports Convention in Switzerland lasy year (top) and content from the official F1 app (below).

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