Portland Trail Blazers And Digimarc Are Blazing A Digital Future
Fans are speaking with their actions. They want mobile phones to enhance their experience."
- Dewayne Hankins, Senior VP, Brand Strategy & Digital at Portland Trail Blazers
The Portland Trail Blazers have paved the way to a richer sports experience for its fans, becoming the first franchise in the National Basketball Association to offer a FanScan feature on its official mobile app. The franchise prides itself on embracing new technology in creative ways to build a deeper relationship with its loyal supporters. This is part of a broader effort to improve the experience, ranging from extensive WiFi availability to a new mobile phone application with multiple engaging features. And it’s completely in keeping with being a trailblazer, "a person who makes, does, or discovers something new and makes it acceptable or popular."
Because fandom is such a personal experience, the team is careful to target fans with app content that will appeal to them most. Using their Android or iOS devices, fans can now scan digital or audio media and access extra content like exclusive videos, real-time game statistics and behind-the-scenes photos so they can become even more engaged with the team, whether at the game or away from the arena.
The Digimarc Barcode is imperceptible – meaning that people cannot see or hear it – yet it lets Trail Blazers fans read FanScan-ready materials, such as team posters, the BlazerDancers calendar and game programs, or listen to audio played during the game. The barcode acts as an embedded signal that does not visibly alter the design aesthetics or sound quality of the original media, yet triggers access to an expanded array of content .
Before the March 31st home game against the Boston Celtics, Larry Logan, Digimarc chief marketing officer, demonstrated the new Blazer app’s many features and remarkable range to a select group of technology and sports business journalists who’d gathered at the Moda Center to learn more about the Blazers’ forays into technology enhancements at the Moda Center.
Using several pieces of collateral including a team poster and a calendar page for a Blazer Dancer, Logan pointed out how the imperceptible barcode not only leaves the graphic design unblemished but lets the team refresh the content at any time, without reprinting the poster. And he showed how it was possible for the Digimarc Barcode to respond to audio playing in the arena while he stood in the concourse. To then demonstrate how the Barcode is carried through when recorded, he created a video of the recording in action, uploaded it to YouTube and then showed how the app still recognized the Barcode when played back over the internet.
As reported in Oregon Business, Blazers senior vice president of brand strategy & digital Dewayne Hankins said the Trail Blazers aim to connect with a younger fans who grew up with mobile. "Fans are speaking with their actions. They want mobile phones to enhance their experience." They are also using phones to broadcast their experience of the game, so the phone is a critical marketing tool, he said.
In the words of Michael Lewellen, the Trail Blazers vice president of corporate communications and public engagement, "There's a lot more going on in the arena than basketball." Digimarc is proud to be helping fans discover that richer sports experience, whether they’re in the arena with their small screen or at home with their big screen.