With the growing number of digital platforms available and the constantly changing demands from a shifting audience, it can often be difficult to capture a new demographic. But that’s exactly what NASCAR is doing as it is set to follow a path to encourage a younger generation of motorsport fans. The key to this encouragement? Emerging technology.
“Much like other brands and certainly other sporting leagues, we’d always like to reach younger demographics – emerging technology is one way for us to do that. The scale of a NASCAR race is something that you truly can’t appreciate unless you’re there. But for the first time, emerging technology is allowing fans to experience the race through a more immersive experience, so that it’s almost as if they are at the race” said Tim Clark, vice president of digital media at NASCAR.
An immersive experience – If the goal is to have fans feel immersed, as if they’re part of the action, then the growth of online platforms has certainly led the way here. Direct interaction with a favourite personality or to see the action through the eyes of an athlete is a very different experience and is something NASCAR have been toying with using both 360-degree video and Virtual Reality. Whilst the ultimate goal will be having as many fans as possible physically attend a race, a virtual representation does well to bridge the gap where other factors need to be concerned. Particularly over the past few months and has allowed a demographic that may not have shown much interest a more in-depth look at what actually happens in the cockpit of a racing car.
This change hasn’t only been good for new fans too, however, as existing fans and punters have been able to benefit from this too. The introduction of wider spread social media sharing in NASCAR alongside these ride along experiences have been of huge benefit to long term fans. They get a much closer experience and when the 360 view and VR can be implemented into each driver vehicle, fans get a much closer experience. With the growing popularity of legal NASCAR betting, punters will also be able to get a much closer look at what’s going on an make more informed choices, similar to what has been seen to other sports offering these unique views.
Augmented Reality – The tech platform that kicked off a craze in 2016 with Pokémon GO has also been successfully used in NASCAR. It debuted at this years Daytona 500 and has been credited with helping out with new users’ engagement particularly with the app. “What we found was this use of augmented reality turned out to be a great vehicle for encouraging fans to download the NASCAR app”. The use found users being able to place drivers racing helmets and goodyear racing tyres to share on social media, it was found that this was a great approach to getting fans engaged and to share content at the same time.
There are plans to further integrate augmented reality into the app too, with the use of social sharing just the start. “We think being able to interact with a race car on your coffee table or your desk is just a whole different sense of the scale of what this s port is, giving fans the access to look at the inside of the race car that Austin Dillon drove to win the Daytona 500 gives us the ability to engage fans on their turf, so to speak”. There are obviously some big plans here moving forward, and if successful engagement has already been found it could become a powerful tool.
There has been a lot of pressure in recent years for event organisers to shift over to a more digital approach for many events and that has only been compounded with the coronavirus pandemic. But with engagement being at an all time high as drivers interact through social media and through the introduction of these newer platforms, it does provide an opportunity for an approach that had been lacking in more traditional events. If recent months are anything to go by, the big changes being seen have had a huge impact on interaction as a whole.