There are few surviving sports that claim a history of over half a thousand years. One sport that prides itself on its tradition and longevity is golf.
Many revolutions tend to stomp out tradition but others transform it. And that’s what the digital revolution did for the spot, which has molded golf into a global entertainment experience. It’s not only players but viewers who are seeking out relevant content across a broad array of platforms.
And leading the charge of this process is the world’s top golf organization: the PGA Tour. And one of their main focuses has been to center the fans in everything they do. “Our entire staff approaches each day and every meeting from a fan-centric perspective,” said Travis Trembath, VP of fan engagement at the PGA Tour.
“I have a tremendous amount of passion for understanding fans and consumers,” continued Travis. I was a data-driven marketer before it was cool to be a data-driven marketer. To center the fan in the PGA Tour’s operations, they took on a fresh approach with a suite of Adobe products, from Audience Manager and Analytics to Adobe Experience Manager.
Thee digital products provided valuable insight into their customers and helped to segment them – the hardcore golf player, the casual, those who follow particular golfers, those who love the video games.
In a content-saturated environment, it’s more difficult than ever to fight for fans’ attention. “The whole strategy was positioned around future-proofing the PGA Tour,” said David Piccolo, VP of brand marketing. “We knew our brand needed to be refreshed.”
Knowing the intricacies of each fan, which content they prefer, and on what platforms is their ultimate goal (or rather their “hole in one”). “We needed to win in the digital space and create products and platforms that allow fans to consume us where it’s convenient,” said Travis. “It’s imperative to our future that we innovate and create this great experience. Because if we don’t, we’ll lose our fans and it’ll hurt our business, no doubt about it.”
Using their collection of Adobe products like Audience Manager and Adobe Experience Manager, their ambition has been to create a singular, unified portrait of each fan, using data from their CRM and eclectic digital channels.
“All our backend digital analytics are done using Adobe products,” added Travis. “It’s really the foundation for all that we do in the digital space. Ultimately, we know that each fan has their own individual journey, so we’ve customized our content around those different segments and how they engage with the sport.”
For example, a golfer who plays often may want to play at an official PGA Tour course. Or someone who has just bought a Friday ticket for a competition could be offered tickets for Saturday and Sunday at a discount. “The true goal for us is really to get down to that one-to-one relationship with each fan,” added Travis.
“Over the years we’ve grown our use of Adobe products. And we’ll only continue to grow our use of Adobe. It’s really helped us to evolve how we approach our fans.” They use A/B testing to tweak and enhance the performances of their website and network of apps.
“It’s obviously a changing world and this is all new territory for me,” added Travis, “but a new territory for everybody, too. It’s an exciting time for sure… In the past seven or eight years, there’s been a tremendous influx of young talent on the PGA Tour. And these players – Rickie Fowler, Jordan Spieth, and Rory McIlroy – not only are they great, transcendent talents on the golf course, they’ve got great personalities. We’re launching a feed-based, personalized experience in our app that’ll allow fans to receive content based on who their favorite players are.”
Another VP, of digital operations, Scott Gutterman, spoke of their growing use of digital. “Over the years we’ve grown our use of Adobe products. And we’ll only continue to grow our use of Adobe. And, you know, it’s really helped us to evolve how we approach our fans.”
And like the golfer who takes a good view of what’s in front of him, the PGA Tour does the same. Looking a decade into the future, “You’ll have your own personalized consumption streams,” said Scott, “which will stretch not only from video, but to data, storytelling, video highlights, all kinds of new types of content.”
And peering closer? “I think what you’ll see in 2025 is a highly personalized and highly distributed presentation of the PGA Tour,” said Scott. “Whatever happens, the fan will be front and center.”