Goal, winners of the "Best Sports News Site" award at the 2017 Drum Online Media Awards, talk about how they built their brand and launched a successful sports media platform.
The biggest football media brand
Goal is the world’s biggest football media brand and in 2016 was focused on its mission to serve the new breed of football fan. The new fan is social, mobile-dependent and brand- savvy; they demand original content, delivered in engaging formats across multiple channels. For Goal this meant delivering both on and off platform, whilst bringing new users to its website and mobile apps and providing new ways for brands to engage with the modern fan.
During 2016 goal’s users generated more than 7bn page views, achieved through a combination of innovation, market leading content, world-class creative and in-house organisation, which enables Goals global editorial teams to benefit from a shared pool of knowledge and content.
Social at its heart
Facebook played a key part in Goal’s user acquisition and brand building in 2016, helped in part by the manta that all stories should elicit an emotion from its readers. This idea extends through articles to video and graphical content created specifically for social.
Goal innovated on social throughout 2016, with a focus on Facebook and Instagram. Goal continued to broadcast on Facebook Live through its army of correspondents, having been the first publisher to have their journalists publishing live in autumn 2015 via Facebook Mentions. Over the course of the year Goal’s correspondents published regular Live broadcasts, updating fans on their favourite teams and hosting Q&As.
This grew to regional desks hosting regular shows and during Euro 2016 saw Goal correspondents sharing 360-degree footage, putting fans at the heart of the tournament, as well as reporting from the heart of the hooligan trouble in Marseille. Across 2016 Goal’s Facebook pages saw video views in excess of 750m, a figure already exceeded in 2017.
At the end of January Goal launched Studs Up - a brand new football chat show broadcast on Facebook Live. With TV-like production values, Studs Up took Goal’s live video work from selfie sticks outside stadiums into a packed TV studio. Racking up more than 200,000 views for its first show, Studs Up managed to combine celebrity guests, fan interaction and the best (and worst) from the world of football in a way that resonated with the new breed of football. As well as being a great editorial product, Studs Up also works commercially, with the Sure sponsored Goal Pressure Index being the perfect example of branded content being produced and delivered in an authentic and engaging way.
Putting fans at the heart of the action was a key driver for Goal’s strong Instagram following. Rather than sharing press pictures, Goal combined bespoke imagery and allowed correspondents to post to Goal’s Instagram Stories feed. The result was a Story that gives football fans a true global match day experience, uniting them around the global game. Goal’s Instagram Stories alone generate an average of 370,000 views on weekends.
Goal’s traffic numbers are also a result of the brand’s early adoption of Facebook Instant Articles and Google AMP. Goal was also an early adopter of Messenger Bots, creating a market leading bot to provide fans with a new way to get their daily dose of football news.
Goal’s social activity in the first half of 2016 saw it named as the most shared publisher on social media by independent research agency, Fractl. The results showed that Goal’s social content wasn’t only beating its football and sports competitors, but also global media brands such as the BBC, CNN and Buzzfeed.
Content is king
While 2016 was awash was high profile football stories, such as Leicester City’s Premier League triumph, an all-Madrid Champions League final and Euro 2016, Goal recognised the need for unique content, especially during the summer break. Due to this, Goal become the official digital media partner of the International Champions Cup and ran the eighth annual Goal 50 awards, recognising the greatest players in world football. 2016’s Goal 50 was the biggest yet, generating 7.8m page views and seen by 2.3m unique users, during one of the slowest times of the year for football media. The International Cup was also a key driver for traffic, but above all it provided Goal users with access to highlights and goals as their favourite teams played abroad.
Goal Studios is Perform Media’s digital football agency. Taking an insight-driven approach that harnesses the power of Goal’s global audience, it specialises in authentically connecting brands to the New Breed of Fan through innovative content that resonates – and then reaching them via Perform’s media brands. Goal Studios’ clients include Nissan, UEFA, EA Sports, DAZN, Rakuten and Lukas Podolski.