Wimbledon and IBM outline how data is driving a content strategy to shake off the brand's ‘stuffy’ image

The All England Lawn and Tennis Club (AELTC) and IBM have announced a plethora of updates and additions to the suite of digital properties that sit behind the two-week Wimbledon tournament as it looks to offer fans even more access to information and move away from being seen as a “stuffy” private members club.

Alex Willis, content and communications manager at AELTC, told The Drum that the data generated and analysed by IBM now plays a vital part in content creation for Wimbledon’s social and digital channels.

“I like to think of Wimbledon as a slightly eccentric English gentleman, yes it’s traditional but you should feel its approachable, fun,” she said.

Over the next three weeks, Willis and her team of around 30 will oversee the entire digital content output. Over 20 million people will engage with the brand online during the tournament, four million of which follow Wimbledon across is various social channels globally (Wimbledon is on Weibo in China and has a Japanese Facebook page). “People say that planning Wimbledon is like planning a wedding for 50,000 people that lasts 13 days,” she said of the content creation challenge. “Our imagery will always speak for itself and portray Wimbledon’s heritage, but the challenge with the other content that we provide, whether it’s video or social media, is to show some character or personality,” she continued. “We want to get across that we’re not a stuffy, too traditional brand; that we can have a sense of humour occasionally and there is character.”This year, IBM has launched the Wimbledon Social Command Centre to help Willis do this. Powered by IBM SoftLayer cloud technology, the new Command Centre works in real-time, delivering insights into current and evolving social media conversations taking place on and off the court. It consists of ‘Evolving Topics’ – a section that shows what topics are growing or reducing in focus – Player Conversations – which shows what players are discussing, what fans are saying about them, and who has the greatest share of voice – and a Social Heat-Map which can geo-locate social conversations. For the first time this year will also be a Hill vs World initiative. Powered by the Command Centre, the content team will be able to pose a question to the people sitting at Henman Hill (or Murray Mound) via a big screen and ask the same question to the rest of the world on Twitter. The Command Centre can also hone in on specific conversations happening around different courts throughout the tournament, pull out the big influencers on Twitter and analyse the sentiment - across social on the Wimbledon brand to help Willis inform her adjustments to content and style. Having seen mobile users tip the 50 per cent mark last year, IBM has also redesigned the mobile app to make it a more peronsalised experience. Fans can now make a list of players, countries or matches they are interested in and access a curated stream of content based on those interests. As expected, it will continue to deliver access to live scores, results, news, photos, and video highlights. On the website, where 80 per cent of Wimbledon fans continue to go – it had 19.7 million unique visitors last year, a 16 per cent increase from 2012 – the IBM SlamTracker has been redesigned and simplified. The tool leverages historical and real-time data to offer ‘fan friendly’ insights into about a match and this year a new interface has been created to make these insights more engaging. “We continue to look for new ways to innovate and strengthen our leadership position in the sports industry, and one of the ways we will do this is by delivering content and information about the championships to fans in the way that they want to consume it, no matter where they are,” said Mick Desmond, commercial director at AELTC on the 25-year partnership with the IBM. “Working with [them] allows us to create a unique digital environment that delivers stats, video and information to our fans whenever they want it on all devices and is the next best thing to being there.”

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