Oakland Raiders’ Andy Rentmeester on Widgets
Widgets and brands with fan affinity are a match made in marketing heaven. These bits of code can be embedded on Web pages or computer desktops, allowing a company to feed brand news, entertainment and offers to its fans. And when this audience places these widgets on its personal pages on social networking sites like MySpace and Facebook, the brand’s exposure is magnified.
These benefits, plus the ability to track and measure user interaction, led the Oakland Raiders to Gydget. This San Francisco-based widget developer helped the franchise launch a news-driven widget in August 2007. Andy Rentmeester, the Oakland Raiders’ Web manager, shares insights on how the franchise’s widget performed in its rookie year, along with some plans for maximizing its value next season.
Target Marketing: What role does your widget play in your online marketing plans?
Andy Rentmeester: We’ve really done traditional marketing, and we’ve been e-marketing for about five years. We do a little bit of direct mail as well, and a couple of catalogs for our merchandising side. But really, in terms of the widget, this is something new. MySpace and Facebook were both on our radar of “we need to get in those spaces” so we can hit a younger demographic area. But not just that. Being in the Bay area, I would say the market penetration of those technologies is higher here than in probably most metro areas because we are near Silicon Valley. So, I would put this as a new, emerging opportunity for [the Raiders] to get out there.
TM: What kind of metrics are you tracking on the widget?
AR: You can look at views, how many people grabbed it, clickthroughs … just like any other marketing piece on the Web. Once you get those numbers and start presenting them to management, it’s great. It helps you make much better business decisions.
TM: What have you found to be one of the most important metrics for your widget?
AR: For us, we always look at dollars coming in the door. Our brand is well-known, so we’re less interested in doing marketing pieces that are just spreading the brand. We’ve got trackable links that go to our merchandise store … as well as our ticketing. Those are our two largest pieces of revenue we get throughout the year. Based on those tracking links, we know how many people are going from the widget and taking that wonderful path all the way to our purchase pages.
TM: Are you making sure you have content in the widget that supports purchasing?
AR: For year one, we didn’t do many things that were product-oriented—meaning, “Hey, check out the new jersey coming out.” It was more just focusing on what the team was doing … events and press releases throughout the year. But I know in year two, we want to look at getting out a few more product messages. And a lot of that has to do with us getting a little bit better at when we officially announce our merchandise offerings and “x” type of ticket packages going on sale, those types of things. We really want to integrate those more because we think that’s going to add more to the bottom line.
TM: How are you driving fans to know you have a widget?
AR: When we originally launched it, we did a contest around it, which I wouldn’t say is anything earth-shattering. But we sent [the message] out via an e-mail campaign. Our database is pretty robust, in terms of size. We really drove people that way, and I would say that’s how we got most of our initial views and people grabbing it. I think we offered a free signed helmet in the contest. That’s the easy way to do it.
Now to do more, what we should do in 2008 is utilize some of our brick-and-mortar stores. We have 15 stores that are all Raiders merchandise; they’re called The Raider Image. So, we’d like to do some offline marketing there, as well as at our games. Ten Sundays out of the year we get 60,000 people in our stadium, and we didn’t really do anything with that [in 2007]. So, those are two offline initiatives which we think we can utilize more this season.