BriziCam the fan-controlled camera at sports events
Imagine a group of 25 elementary students dabbing in the stands to take the perfect picture. This is what happened at the Mutua Madrid Open when Spanish kids on a field trip used the BriziCam. The BriziCam is a fan-controlled camera system that gives spectators the chance to snap amazing in-seat photos. These photos can then be shared with all of their friends on social media.
Coming off of several successful BriziCam deployments, I interview Brizi’s marketing director Stefan Kollenberg and marketing specialist Vanlizza Chau about the ins and outs of the startup.
Stationary BriziCam gives growth injection
Although Brizi is now known for the stationary BriziCam, the company started out with social drones about 3.5 years ago. “The camera was attached to a drone that would fly around an event and you could take your picture from that aerial point of view,” Stefan explains. As the company grew, sports teams expressed more interest in the stationary cameras. “So that is when we, about a year and a half ago now, changed and went stationary.
“Since then we have been growing, with a focus on tennis tournaments. Now we are branching off a bit with the NBA and some of the other leagues.”
The company has had some high profile clients. With their focus on tennis, fans at tournaments like the Australian Open, the US Open and the Mutua Madrid Open have been able to use the BriziCam. With the Australian tournament earlier this year being a highlight. “The numbers of that event were phenomenal, we had over 34,000 pictures.”
The Portland Trail Blazers were another successful Brizi partnership with 8,172 photos, 1,223,817 social impressions and a 9.7% participation rate.
Three core values
So what exactly does Brizi offer to sports organisations, sports events and brands?
“We’ve actually got three core value propositions,” Stefan explains.
“There is the social engagement and the engagement within the stadium. Your fans get excited when interacting with the BriziCam. Then there is the sponsorship aspect where teams can sell branded overlays, a branded mobile experience, and a variety of other options. Finally there is the data collection. When a fan shares their photo, they provide access to their Twitter or Facebook profile, which we can then provide to the sponsor and team for personalised marketing campaigns post-event, whether that is ticket sales, merchandise or the brand’s product.”
Fan-controlled cameras in real time
When it comes to engaging fans, Stefan highlights the key differentiator of the BriziCam compared to similar products. “It is real time, in your seat and the user has control. No one else in the world is doing that right now and it provides a big advantage on our end.
“So if you look at some of the other tools: they have video and pictures, but it is candid. The user is not involved in the experience and would only get their picture after the game.
“Sports are all about being in the moment. As a fan you want to show your friends ‘Hey, I am at the game now having an amazing time’. You don’t want to wait until later and that decreases both the share rate and engagement rate dramatically.”
Another asset of the BriziCam is its simplicity to use. “It is extremely simple. We have put a lot of work into the user experience. You go to the website, enter your seat number, the live feed pops up on your screen, you take your picture and boom it’s on your phone.”
A dynamic queuing system and cross-mapped cameras then have to make sure people don’t have to wait too long to take their photo. “What we do is set up a variety of cameras. The Madrid Open had four cameras for example. When they are all being used at the same time, it tells the user they are next in line or 30 seconds away from their turn, etc. We want everyone to have the opportunity to get their photo and not wait very long.”
Getting fans to use BriziCam
Fans usually go to a white label URL to activate the BriziCam. Depending on the client and the objectives, it could also only be an in-app feature, but this is a far higher barrier to use for fans. “In our experience,” Stefan says, “the best way to go about it is a simple branded URL plus the app integration as a secondary source of traffic.”
Based on their experience Brizi has laid out a “marketing playbook” for clients so they can achieve their desired goals. After having experimented with many marketing strategies, Stefan says they have “really narrowed it down to just a few things”. He continues, “Putting a few announcements on the big screen and a banner going around pre-game with the URL is extremely effective.”
Word of mouth often takes care of the rest. “We see a lot of it [word of mouth], like your neighbour is posing, doing all this crazy stuff, and you think, ‘what is going on?’ So you ask, you find out, and you try it yourself.”
As each client is unique, Brizi’s marketing team gets together with the clients to set clear goals. Stefan explains, “Some want a lot of social engagement; some want more photos; some want a higher share rate. Figuring out exactly what the metric is they are looking for, and then making sure we can help them hit that.”
Sponsored overlays are an important aspect of this. Overlays have to make sure that the BriziCam does not only engage fans, but that the content produced can be monetised as well.
So how does Brizi assure that non-branded overlays do not cannibalize the branded ones? Stefan gives an explanation, “At the US Open there were specific days. Both Citizen and Starwood Preferred Guests had days where it was only their sponsored overlay available. If there is a sponsor then we always assure that there is a sponsored message on every single overlay that is available.”
However, Brizi also realizes that spectators would like to have a clean image. Therefore their goal is to have exciting and fun overlays. To keep achieving this, Brizi might add augmented reality overlays in the future. Video is another area the company may explore down the line.
Another valuable outcome of the BriziCam is the data collected from spectators sharing their BriziCam photos on social media. Events and brands want to pay for this data. As Brizi has operated within different sports and in different parts of the world, they have observed some interesting differences among fans.
Stefan illustrates one such difference, “In Madrid particularly, people are way more into Twitter than anywhere else in the world that we have seen. In the US the ratio of Facebook shares to Twitter shares is normally five to one. Whereas in Australia it was four to one, and Madrid was three to one.
“We’re also able to see the number of friends each person has and the average friends per person in Madrid was dramatically lower than anywhere else. We learned that Madrid didn’t have Facebook as a widely used platform until a few years ago which led to this lower engagement on Facebook.”
Sports startup advice
Before parting ways with Stefan and Vanlizza, I ask them what advice they would give to sports startups.
Stefan highlights the importance of being hyper-focussed. “At the very beginning as a business, you have to be hyper-focussed. Like with us, focussed on tennis. You build yourself out in one niche and then you expand because you have that proof of concept.”
He also says, “It is all about testing assumptions and prioritising the testing of those assumptions. As a small business when you raise funds that [testing assumptions] is what you are doing with the money.”
Finally, there is the importance of time management and prioritisation.
“You are going to have so many things to do. It is insanity, because there are tasks everywhere. You have to understand where your time is most valuable, and where you need to dedicate resources in order to provide the most value to the business.”
So far the resources seem to have been dedicated right. Brizi is growing, after making the switch from drones to stationary cameras. The company provides value to fans, sports organisations and brands. So don’t be surprised when you can control a BriziCam at the next sports event you are attending.