Monday, November 30, 2015

Bring me the face of Juan Mata García

Ah, new problems to solve.  We love 'em!  And not only that, but we love that when we solve a problem for one customer, because Blinkfire Analytics is built on a real time platform, we can easily then use it to solve the same problems for other customers as well.

One of our lines of business is helping agencies that represent players and help create and monetize their digital presence, especially when it comes to their endorsement value on social media.

One of the agencies we work with, ImagoSport in Madrid, who manages branding and communication for elite athletes such as David DeGea, César Azpilicueta, and Juan Mata, came to us with an interesting problem to solve.

Because social media was becoming more and more visual, it was becoming more and more difficult to find when their clients were appearing in images with the brands who sponsored their endorsements, because in many cases their teams did not mention them by name, @mention them, or otherwise tag them with something like a hashtag.  Could our engine be used to find their players using facial recognition?  and then use our BrandSpotter™ technology to find the intersection of the players and their brands?

It was funny they asked, because yes, we had been investigating this as well.

In this video below, you can see how we are using the Blinkfire Analytics Content Search tool to do an advanced search for whenever Manchester United posts with Juan Mata wearing an adidas logo.

The search results look like this and from here with our Semi-Pro or above license, you can see the faces and export these results to reports.

In talking with Carlos M. Sanchez at Imago, he had some kind words to say about our working together on solving problems such as this. “We at ImagoSport need current and accurate data on the presence of our clients on social media and their interaction with sponsors. Facial identification and brand detection technologies provided by Blinkfire Analytics allow us to track those interactions and know their potential economic value.”, said Sanchez.

We couldn't agree more and we're happy to provide it using cutting edge computer vision technologies such as we are with facial recognition coupled with our BrandSpotter technology.

We will have more and more cool things like this coming soon, so please stay tuned!

(and yes, Juan Mata García is his full name)

Thursday, November 19, 2015

We've added eSports to Blinkfire!

Not long ago we were telling you how much we like adding new competitions to Blinkfire. However, there's something we like even more: adding new sports! After traditional pastimes such as football, basketball, golf or tennis, we decided to take the leap to new technologies and added eSports or competitive games to our system.

The first videogaming competitions took place in the 1970s, but eSports have become popular in the last decade thanks to the boom of online gaming. Today, teams play professionally and sponsors are investing more and more money to reach their large base of followers.

According to recent data from NewZoo, eSports are growing at a 40% annual growth rate and they are expected to reach 765 million dollars in 2018. Half of that will be online advertising. Matches and competitions can be watched on TV and online streaming services and the number of viewers is close to 250M and expected to surpass 300M in the next three years.

The term eSports encompasses a multitude of different events, genres and games (real-time strategy games, first-person shooters, fighting games, etc.). At this moment we have added teams from one of the most popular current games: League of Legends, developed by Riot Games. DOTA 2, Starcraft II or Counter-Strike: Global Offensive are some other prominent IPs.

But the truth is we didn't select League of Legends just because of its huge popularity. The 2015 League of Legends World Series were held in October and we used our tools to track the patterns and effects of the event on social channels.

We only tracked the semifinals and the four teams that reached this stage of the tournament, but it was more than enough to see for ourselves how extremely popular eSports are and how brands such as Coca-Cola, American Express, Monster or New Balance are investing in this unconventional sport. In just a few days our system gathered over 5,600 social posts related to this event (by hashtag or geographical location), from over 3,400 users, and with 8.7M engagements.

Seeing these figures, investing our efforts in eSports is a no-brainer, therefore in the following weeks we plan to expand our tracking to add the most important teams, players and sponsors of this new and exciting industry.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Buying stadium signs in the post-television era

The Cubs didn't quite make the World Series this year, so yet again we Chicagoans will have to say "wait 'til next year".  However, one company that won't have to wait until next year is Toyota, who this August sponsored the marquee on the front of Wrigley Field, perhaps foreseeing the run up to the NLCS.  We have no idea if that was luck or a good bit of fortune telling, but one thing we do know:   a LOT of people take selfies in front of said marquee, and that adds up to a lot of earned media exposure for Toyota.

Social Media allows for Digital Exposure Outside the Stadium

This sign is on the outside of the stadium, so you can analyze all the TV footage you want and you aren't going to see this sign much.   Even if it was, we've started to notice some patterns that make sense for sponsors to study if one is considering buying stadium signs in the post-TV, social media era, and some considerations for pricing if you are selling sign real estate to sponsors.

Using our new Content Search and performing a search like "cubs toyota" allows you to tally up the many different publications that include the sign, including teams such as the Cubs themselves or other teams like the Pirates and Reds, players such as Dexter Fowler,  MLB, or media companies such as the Chicago Tribune and SI.

Search results for "cubs toyota"
From this we are able to garner a number of interesting insights, the first being that this is ALL earned media - the sign sponsorship is the campaign, and there are no specific activations on the part of anyone for Toyota.

Second, Instagram continues to be the channel that generates the most earned media value (over 54% of the total value) when it comes to selfies and other fan posts, as well as posts from the official channels.  If you aren't tracking Instagram as part of your social media valuation process we don't believe you can even get into the ballpark (so to speak) of an accurate valuation.  In October Facebook generated approximately 29% of the total engagement, and Twitter generated a bit over 16%.  Not surprisingly to most, Google+ continues to provide negligible value from an audience perspective.

Incidentally, the Cubs also sold a Budweiser sign on the back of Wrigley Field, essentially sponsoring the Bleachers, which displays similar properties:

Yes, there's still value inside the stadium

Now, yes the Wrigley Field marquee and bleacher signs are outside the stadium, but what about inside the stadium?   Where should one buy?  Where should one sell?

The answer:   the backdrop where people take selfies.  Ok, well all of these examples below are bona fide John Oliver examples of #notaselfie, but let's say "where people pose for pictures" - because it turns out that's also where teams in their official channels take lots of pictures.

There's a lot more where that came from.

All of these fan posts in aggregate add up (and you can use our tools to do this automatically for you!) but it's the posts from the leagues' and teams' official channels that really add up.

This post by the MLB carried over $25k in earned media value for Budweiser

And the Mets themselves generated over $75k in earned media value for Budweiser as well in October alone:


So, the moral of the story here is twofold:

1) Sign buying can generate material earned media value for your brand, especially if you happen to pick stadia of teams which get to the playoffs! and

2) Buy signs where people are going to take lots of pictures - iconic marquees or places in the stadium where people are going to direct their cameras.

Of course, you yourself can study trends like this using Blinkfire Analytics.  Contact us to find out how.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Cristiano, Messi and the accidental endorsement

Last week we wrote about the Barcelona Effect and used as a example a photograph posted by the Catalan team that had given very valuable exposure to Avia Energías, SD Eibar's main sponsor. This can also happen with the social channels of important players and sometimes they accidentally endorse brands that are not sponsoring them.

For instance, Cristiano Ronaldo has been one of the top Nike athletes for years, but he plays for Real Madrid, a team sponsored by Adidas. In fact, the best-selling Real Madrid shirts are those bearing the name of Cristiano. That means that he's generating income for Adidas while sponsored by their direct competitor.

It's relatively common for the Portuguese striker to share images on his social channels where he gets valuable exposure for Adidas. This image shared on Instagram by Cristiano on October 12th has earned over one million Likes and more than 8,000 comments. Adidas would have needed to pay about 489,000 euros to buy that kind of social visibility!

Something extremely similar happens with Leo Messi. He's sponsored by Adidas, but plays for FC Barcelona, sponsored by Nike. Once again, Messi's social channels are full of visual impacts for Nike, as in this photograph posted on Facebook that has been shared 9,700 times and has received over 8,000 comments and over 600,000 Likes.

Of course, neither of them mentions the rival brand or use their official hashtags, but they can't avoid sharing the logo they wear daily when training or playing. Our brand detection technology spots said logos in both images and videos and calculates the value of that exposure. The alternative to our service is reviewing hundreds of social posts one by one, which is slow, expensive and remarkably inefficient.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Content Search is now available!

You know we love announcing new features, especially when they are as useful as the one we are unveiling today: our new Content Search feature. This used to be an internal tool for our engineering corps, but we realized that it could be extremely useful for our customers to find branded content, especially visual content in images and video - so after showing it to many of you, we've made a few tweaks here and there, and made it generally available under the "Explore Blinkfire" link on your sidebar.

You can find the new search feature here. By default you will just get a bar where you can search for athletes, brands, leagues... and combinations of all those elements. For instance, if we search for "Messi Adidas" we will get results where both Leo Messi and Adidas have had any interaction through mentions, hashtags, visual mentions, geolocation and text mentions. If you are not logged in you will only get the first 10 results (hint, hint - so if you aren't logged in, log in!).

If you have acquired a Blinkfire license you will be able to use the "Advanced Search" link to get many additional search and filtering options. That means you can search for keywords and also filter the results by content type (if it includes images, videos or just text), by author type (posts from players, brands, teams, media companies or leagues) or even by sports.

This Advanced Search allows users to filter results by date, by specific author, by social channel (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc.) or by the brands that appear in them, among other possibilities.

Let's say we want to get the Instagram pics shared by Arsenal in October that interact with Emirates Airlines and we want to sort them by their social engagement. You would just need to set up the search options as showed in the image below:

Apart from these options, you can also select if you want to get the results displayed as social cards or as a table.

Social cards view
Table view

Useful and simple, right? If you want to know how this new Advanced Search and the rest of features offered by Blinkfire can help your team or brand, just get in touch with us. We'd love to hear from you!

Monday, November 2, 2015

The Barcelona Effect

Here at Blinkfire Analytics we are always surrounded by graphs and data. That makes us discover interesting or curious trends quite often. For instance, a few weeks ago we noticed the effect that FC Barcelona has over the social channels of the teams they play against.

The blaugranas are the most followed team of both La Liga and the UEFA Champions League. They've got 87 million fans on Facebook, 21 million followers on Instagram and over 31 million Twitter follower among their several accounts. Only country rivals Real Madrid is close to those figures.

From the beginning of this season we have noticed how the teams playing against Barcelona in La Liga have seen their social followers rise, no matter if they win or lose. Athletic Club gained 1,855 new fans on August 23rd, the day they faced Barcelona. Do you see those huge spikes in the previous days? That's when both teams played against each other in the Spanish Supercup. Athletic got 8,945 and 11,212 new fans those days.

Athletic Club (0-1) FC Barcelona

Málaga lost 1-0 when they visited the Camp Nou, but they got 2,602 fans. They are usually below 1,000. The other spike in their graph corresponds with their mastch against Real Madrid.

FC Barcelona (1-0) Málaga

History repeated when Barcelona visited the Vicente Calderón stadium to play Atlético de Madrid on September 12th. Atleti, the third most popular team in Spain, got 37,234 new fans. This time that positive trend lasted for a few more days because of the first game of the Champions League.

Atlético de Madrid (1-2) FC Barcelona
The same thing happened during the following weeks against Levante, Celta de Vigo or Las Palmas, with significant follower growths for those teams.

FC Barcelona (4-1) Levante UD
Celta de Vigo (4-1) FC Barcelona
FC Barcelona (2-1) Las Palmas

Sevilla FC gained over 4,000 new Facebook fans when they played (and won) against FC Barcelona, but that spike is clearly overshadowed by the one on August 12th and 13th. On August 12th they fought for the UEFA Supercup against... guess who? That's right! FC Barcelona.

Sevilla FC (2-1) FC Barcelona

However, what is really interesting about this 'Barcelona Effect' are not all these new followers, but the exposure earned by the sponsors of those teams. Last Sunday Barcelona faced SD Eibar at the Camp Nou. The modest basque outfit has right now about 99,000 social followers, while FC Barcelona is close to 155 million.

With that in mind it's easy to conclude that the social exposure earned by Avia Energías, Eibar's main sponsor, is way, way lower when compared to that of Qatar Airways, Barça's jersey sponsor. So what happens when FC Barcelona shares photographs where their rival's sponsors get a visual mention, such as in the example below?

The above photograph was shared by FC Barcelona on Instagram last Sunday and has got 354,254 likes and 586 comments so far. If Avia had had to pay for all that social exposure they would have needed to spend €160,000 approximately. This is just a very small sample of the insights that brands and teams using Blinkfire Analytics can benefit from.