Serving fans with a brand beyond the sand.

Brand Beyond The Sand.

With a resurgence of interest in the sport as new ownership ushered AVP into a new era, America’s professional beach volleyball tour was looking to take the sport to new heights and rebuild brand equity to live up to its prestigious heyday of brand recognition.  The AVP wanted to reposition itself as one of the country’s premier sports leagues and summer event series, bringing the ultimate beach day to both volleyball fans and casual fans.

The AVP approached Brand Knew, specifically because of the agency’s strong sports division, which employs numerous former collegiate athletes.  As AVP’s creative and digital agency of record, Brand Knew provided a complete website overhaul to optimize the league’s digital home, developed a broad creative marketing strategy that brought new value to old fans and an exhilarating narrative to those just discovering the sport, and a unique livestream strategy that would help push the sport to the big stage.  Brand Knew brought the excitement on the sand to broader audiences by shoring up AVP’s digital narrative.

AVP: Digitally Enhanced.

AVP was in search of creative strategies to deliver immersive action to fans across the country, including those who couldn’t attend tournaments in person. The previous online experience for tournaments was not user-friendly, confusing fans who were clicking in circles in search of information. AVP’s digital platforms also lacked consistent updates, which created a major disconnect between fans on the sand and those at home.

Using proprietary technology and clever implementation, Brand Knew developed a one-of-a-kind experience for AVP fans across desktop and mobile. Live scoring and bracket features were added so that fans across the globe could track live tournament match-ups and results. Thanks to this seamless integration of real-time updates and user-friendly designs, the AVP was able to provide an unparalleled beach volleyball experience to nearly a million fans. In the 2019 season, the bracket system was the site’s most popular page and earned an ‘Average Time on Page’ that was double that of the overall website.

More recently, Brand Knew created and launched an entirely new navigation and homepage UI/UX, introducing an updated brand aesthetic that is specifically tailored for digital usage. Understanding that in the 2019 season 75% of visitors were first-time users, this homepage delivers a beautiful, streamlined experience that begins with an emotional brand moment and guides users down a curated path that allows them to digest the right amount of information at the right time. During tournaments, a live dashboard displays current match scores and stats above the fold so that fans following their favorite players’ matches can see immediate updates as soon as they land on the homepage. 

Brand Knew’s cumulative efforts to overhaul AVP’s website resulted in considerable growth metrics for the 2019 season. The total number of users was up 55% from the 2018 season, and the overall average site time per page increased by 138% in the same time frame.

AVP + Amazon Prime Video: An Unstoppable Duo.

With beach volleyball at a pivotal point in its history in 2016, Brand Knew was tasked with the ideation and implementation of a digital distribution strategy for the AVP. Over the course of two years, the AVP’s livestream viewership increased an average of 270% year-over-year with the support of Brand Knew’s proprietary technology. This large and highly engaged audience demonstrated AVP’s value and relevance, ultimately resulting in a first-of-its-kind, three-year streaming deal with Amazon Prime Video.

Starting in the 2018 season, Amazon Prime Video and AVP joined forces to take the sport to the next level and provide an unparalleled viewing experience for fans across the country. Prime Video delivered Olympic-level action with world-class production, including full-time commentary, in-depth game analysis, exclusive athlete interviews, and never-before-seen athlete segments that showcase the players as more than just jocks. Brand Knew and AVP saw massive success in the first year of this monumental partnership, breaking Prime Video streaming records and surpassing Amazon’s coverage of the overwhelmingly popular Thursday Night Football. Then, in its following season, viewership increased by an additional 20% and recorded an average viewership duration of over 2 hours.

Raising the Net.

AVP athletes run in circles on the court, so there’s no need for them to run in circles on the AVP site in search of information.  Completely redesigning and recalibrating the homepage after an audit of user behavior and site analytics, Brand Knew developed a user interface and infrastructural design that narratively highlighted the right information at the right time.  Logically, during the summer, the national tournament was brought to the forefront. Bringing the most pertinent tournament information above the fold and ensuring simple navigation, Brand Knew beautifully designed a streamlined experience that delivers a story as users scroll, reflecting the in-person experience fans have as they approach the beach, walk on the sand and enter the stadium.

Intimately understanding the complexity of these tournaments, a dynamic schedule was created to provide up-to-date information, based on when during the season users visited the site.  Brand Knew redeveloped the homepage to funnel different types of fans towards the different types of experiences they seek: athletes directed to Athlete Corner, fans attending events directed to the schedule, fans following from afar directed to live streaming and live scoring, and casual fans directed to educational materials about the sport and opportunities to get involved.

Serving Beach Volleyball to the Masses.

Brand Knew developed a creative marketing strategy that caters as much to old school, local beach volleyball fans as it does to the substantial market of Gen Z & Millennials increasingly playing the sport. Combining the team’s unique volleyball experience with its marketing expertise, Brand Knew implemented an authentic social media strategy that reached new fans in new ways, led by the #BeachMode campaign.

This social media strategy was immersive, extending the new live experience to fans keeping up with the tournaments on mobile. Tactics included high-quality live match updates on Instagram Stories and live tweeting results for every match in the tournament’s Main Draw. This strategy provided a consistent, dependable communication format for fans that were eager to bring the sand to their screens. During the 2019 season, Brand Knew’s efforts led to 78M+ impressions, over 2 hours of produced content for Instagram Stories, and substantial follower growth.

Brand Knew also implemented an extensive digital media buying strategy, bringing the AVP to fans and prospective consumers across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Google, Waze, and Snapchat.  The team executed a highly-targeted ad buy focused on specific demographics, and then used a variety of retargeting tactics to drive ticket sales and tournament attendance, which ultimately led to social growth and increased overall brand equity. The 2019 paid strategy drove 30,000 attendees to tournaments, while clicks to increased by 56% when compared to its prior season. Brand Knew also drove 150K+ clicks to the Amazon Prime Video livestream at an incredible 7.07% CTR (platform average is 1%). 

Ya Dig?

It’s hard to call it work when you’re having so much fun. The Brand Knew marketing staff travels with the AVP tour across the nation, developing meaningful relationships with dozens of players, and securing important buy-in from these competitors that lead to better content and greater awareness across auxiliary channels.

More recently, Brand Knew has begun to create long-form written and video content for the AVP in order to engage fans, raise brand awareness with a new audience, and drive traffic to the league’s website during tournaments and into the off-season. Following Brand Knew’s recommendation and a carefully curated content strategy, the AVP brand is in the infancy of pivoting from an event-based brand, to a media company that is growing the sport of beach volleyball towards mass market.  Understanding AVP’s current audience (volleyball fans and families); its target audience (general sports fans and Gen Z); and the ever-changing content landscape, Brand Knew is shifting AVP’s narrative and engaging with audiences in new, meaningful ways through blog content and video content.

And, the data shows that the content is resonating. Six months since the launch of this strategy, the average time spent on these blog pages has climbed 260% and the videos have garnered 3.6M+ views on Facebook and YouTube. Many of the videos produced were also frequently broadcast on Amazon Prime Video throughout the 2019 season. With this momentum, the overall growth of the AVP brand continues on course to make the every-four-year Olympic obsession with American beach volleyball, a year-round fanaticism.