The UEFA European Championship is the pinnacle of international football on the continent where, for a month every four years, the best teams gather with one objective in mind: to discover who is the best team in Europe.
The revamped EURO 2016 had a wider appeal, including for the first time 24 teams and an engagement with fans that far outstripped previous editions of the competition.
Le Rendez-Vous was in France, from 10 June to 10 July, but UEFA EURO 2016 was a party not only for Europe – it was a global phenomenon. 24 countries, 51 matches, 10 host cities, 2.4 million stadium spectators. The EURO had always been among the largest sporting events in the world, but never on this scale.
We would partner France in hosting this great festival of football. Unity, rivalry, authenticity, festivity, intensity, excellence and passion; core brand values that almost transcend sport. Passion, in particular, is what stood out at EURO 2016.
To stand out in an ever-more crowded digital space, we strove to offer an unforgettable tournament for the fans, with seamless transitions across all platforms in an un-matched, fully integrated digital football experience. Our main objectives were to;
- Provide an unrivalled user experience
- Deliver exclusive and the fastest live data
- Embody the values of UEFA EURO 2016 brand
Our aim was to cement our place as the primary source for the best quality, most relevant and most reliable EURO 2016 content. Before, during and after the competition we had to engage fans across different interest levels. We also had to integrate our sponsors and their brand in a way that offered great exposure and fan engagement.
We would focus on content, context and connection to make sure everybody felt a part of the conversation. By anticipating fans’ needs we would ensure great stories were told and distributed quickly, and widely, across the globe.
To achieve our objectives, we began with increasing and improving our understanding of our audiences to make their experience personal, emotional and valuable for them to return for more.
After studying a broad range of fans, we developed different personas who had a broad scale of needs as consumers of our content.
From ‘football addict’ to ‘pop-up partaker’, the EURO 2016 digital delivery offered something for every football fan across the globe.
For the first time, the European Championship was delivered with consumption on mobile devices in mind. We designed each experience with mobile browsers and native applications as the starting point. For mobile applications, our strategy was to use native platform design guidelines for iOS and Android. We designed the experience following industry best practices and worked closely with teams from both app stores to optimize and deliver a smooth and delightful experience on all mobile networks.
- Complete factual coverage of the event from start to finish, on and off the pitch
- Provide unrivalled content as the ‘go-to’ source for all EURO 2016 content
- Provide engagement opportunities prior to the tournament
- Keep fans captivated from their first engagement right through until the final whistle
- Engage fans with relevant content, specific to them
- Deliver a truly immersive and connected experience through content, live match experience, interactive gaming and social media integration
- Extensive coverage from all angles before, during and after each match
- Deliver a compelling, engaging and exceptional user experience during each and every matches
- A fully integrated gaming experience to capture and hold the attention of our identified personas
- Provide both daily and tournament long interactive experiences and challenges, to play with friends/colleagues and to share on social media
In order to achieve our strategic goals, we started with a focus on key areas where we normally have high traffic entry points. We ensured that the fans were easily and quickly oriented, content serving their immediate needs were clearly and prominently signposted, and that there were enough elements in the page that ensured the traffic circulated to other areas where we could engage.
The homepage across all platforms was the key entry point, a high-impact, branded platform aided by user-centered design, relevant content packaged in cards, all utilising the strong competition brand. It was the gateway to a truly unrivalled fan experience.
Our aim was to provide a 360 degree experience that worked seamlessly across all platforms. From one central hub we were able to provide access to exclusive pre-match interviews, live match coverage, official data and statistics, live news and key insights from world leading football journalists for all our fans.
Official UEFA content, integrated social media and exclusive behind the scenes content made for a truly compelling and immersive experience.
We started to build an audience during qualification for the finals, to bring the tournament closer. We engaged fans in a conversation about who would qualify, and which stars would be at the tournament well before kick-off.
The launch of the official app just before the draw raised the tempo. We developed high engagement concepts like a vote for an All-Time EURO XI to begin active engagement well ahead of the start of the competition; our bracket predictor, with a nod to the popular office sweepstake, was another hugely popular early feature with which to engage users in the competition build-up.
Personalisation of content would be key, and to achieve this we identified our audience’s needs and priorities. We served fans who read everything about their own team, those who engaged with content from all teams and every aspect of the tournament, and also casual fans who loved drama, controversy and sharing on social media.
We knew that the live match window is of the highest interest to our fans. Those who couldn’t view it on broadcast would turn to digital platforms to follow their favourite teams and players. On a first visit to either the desktop or mobile site, each fan had the opportunity to choose their favourite team which would then customize their EURO 2016 experience.
A mobile-first design produced bite-sized chunks of content, presented in a card based design for a simpler, easily consumable experience for a varied audience that mainly uses mobile devices to consume content. This approach had to be efficient to execute across different platforms.
To get a fan to follow us during live matches, we had to get their attention and earn their trust from days in advance. We had to beat the competition by getting to them first, with relevant information that was easy to locate, entertaining and gave them something they couldn’t find anywhere else.
This had to be the one destination to cut through the clutter. We provided an easily navigated and personalized journey, whatever the platform of choice. We ensured that this experience above all others was exceptional for the fans. This meant we used all our strong points to package a compelling and engaging experience of following a match.
To provide a great live visual match experience, we drew on or key assets:
- Leveraging our network of team reporters and correspondents, we brought fast, continuous updates to make the fans feel closer to their favourite teams and players
- Official source of information from the qualifying stages through to the draw for the finals
- Unrivalled live data from venues delivered faster than any other competitor in the market
- Extensive use of the professional editorial photography
We had UEFA’s official correspondents in each team camp who were adding content to EURO2016.com from days in advance: reporting on player fitness, training, press conferences and media opinion. They then reported live from the stadium as the teams arrived to take in the surroundings, bringing all the pre-match news from the team’s press conferences.
The EURO 2016 MatchCentre was the centrepiece of the whole show. A record 51 matches demanded something special and this was a key delivery for fans and sponsors alike. From here we provided fans with exclusive access-all-areas content – from pre-match build-up, through to live game action and post-game analysis, we had it covered.
On match day, the MatchCentre brought you all the build-up inside and outside the stadium to complement the core, exclusive content as kick-off got nearer. Our team reporters and photographers were on hand as the sides arrived at the stadium and posted the latest news and photos. As the stadium filled, the tension mounted and teams emerged for the national anthems, it was all captured in real time in the MatchCentre with a regular flow of photos and reporter updates.
During the live game, the experience was made all the richer by the photographs going live within a minute of an event on the pitch and live comments and insights from the reporters. Bite-sized chunks designed for quick and easy consumption covered every aspect of the action as the game progressed, complementing the live data feed.
Data and information was captured live and pushed out instantly. Our reporters sent daily information from the training sessions via a mobile interface that updated squad and match pages and informed Fantasy football gamers. During live matches speed was of the essence. If, say, Player of the Tournament Antoine Griezmann scored for France, it impacted on several areas: the users’ fantasy points, live group standings, adidas Golden Boot, Player Barometer and more. This information had to be available straight away, packaged up in well-designed, branded cards for rich, multi-layered user experience.
At the final whistle, the match report and analysis would take centre stage, followed by post-game interviews with coaches and star players, including the Man of the Match and all the updated information for our exclusive Player Barometer feature. Data driven, live, user-friendly content that kept fans up to date with all the essential information throughout the tournament.
All of these factors ensured made for a truly compelling live match experience. Our match centre was extremely busy throughout the tournament, with several individual games attracting close to, or over 1 million visits. The most popular match of the tournament was Germany vs Italy, with 1,086,821 visits.
Traditional, physical FanZones in each host city and beyond had been key features in previous competitions. Where we excelled at EURO 2016 was the delivery of a truly global FanZone through our digital, interactive gaming experience.
We did this to get people closer to the action, to include them into the tournament regardless of their physical location. This would also drive engagement with the tournament on days when a fan’s home nation wasn’t playing or indeed after they had been eliminated.
We engaged with fans continuously, from even before the tournament started, right the way through until the trophy had been lifted in Paris.
Fans would be able to challenge their friends, measure results against other fans globally and play against UEFA Ambassadors (ex-players).
With live MatchCentre data, which would help fans make informed gaming choices.
We utilised social media for only how the games were promoted, but also making it effortless to share predictions and results whilst playing.
If you were active with a game, a card would remind you to play it on your home page feed. Once you had played, the home page feed would then update or prompt you to see your results, or to challenge people or share on social media.
Focused, relevant, personalised updates were present in the live match feed for the Player of the Match game.
Fans were able to engage with the tournament through a variety of games such as our exclusive Predictor, predicting the outcomes and results before a ball had been kicked. They could also their perfect Fantasy starting 11, creating an exciting dialogue between friends, colleagues and publicly through social media. Fans could also engage by voting for the Man of the Match, Goal of the Round and by following the Player Barometer ranking system, where live data based on players’ performances kept fans up to date with how the stars were delivering on the big stage.
With exclusive prizes on offer, as well as all-important bragging rights, this added dimension to the on-field action gave fans an enhanced EURO 2016 experience.
The official UEFA EURO 2016 app was complemented by the Fan Guide app for fans traveling to France, in addition to the apps for McDonald's Fantasy Football and Hyundai Predictor
Over 295 million visits to EURO2016.com and apps, over 1.5 billion page impressions, 13.5 million users downloading mobile apps… the success of the tournament on UEFA’s digital platforms meant traffic records were shattered. Featuring live data and statistics, insight and analysis from on-site reporters, it was the online destination for followers of the tournament.
Fans from across the world followed their team, or the tournament in general in huge numbers – team pages with established fan bases saw page views of up to 13.2 million and there were over 650,000 visits to Iceland’s page, over double the countries’ population. With over 1 million visits to team pages on key match days, throughout the tournament, we caught and kept the world’s attention throughout the tournament. With over 14 billion hits on our API to serve the content, the solution was secure, robust and performance.
On social media we amassed over 12.8 million Facebook fans, 1.5 million followers on both Instagram and Twitter, with over 1.6 million daily retweets.
All in, this was the most extensive, integrated and successful digital coverage of a football tournament that the world has ever seen.