12/18/2015 5:17PM

Harness: Social Marketing Initiative exceeds 2015 goals

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The Harness Racing Social Marketing Initiative conducted in partnership with Converseon, the New York City-based, full-service social media consultancy, has released the year-end results for 2015 activities. In only its second year, the initiative has achieved substantial growth and engagement across the board while exceeding its goals for the year.

“By every available measure, this effort continues to surpass all stated objectives and we thank all the partners involved,” said USTA Executive Vice President and CEO Mike Tanner.

“I am heartened by the support and recognition we are receiving from many quarters, including from our colleagues around the world. While one tactic will not be a silver bullet, all these activities in aggregate and over time have already begun to move the needle. Success now is contingent on additional industry involvement and collaboration. We look forward to that happening in 2016.”

Following are some of the key accomplishments of the initiative in 2015:

• Impressions (the number of times audiences saw Harness Racing FanZone content or ads) grew 64 percent from 13.5 million in 2014 to approximately 21 million in 2015.
• Engagement (the number of times consumers engaged, shared and reacted to the content and ads) increased nearly 300 percent (282,000 vs. est. 652,000).
• Overall online buzz about harness racing grew 28 percent compared to 36 percent for Thoroughbreds (who benefited from a Triple Crown winner and have made a substantial investment in social and digital marketing).
• Online buzz about this year’s Hambletonian grew more than 150 percent over 2014.
• Videos generated more than 600,000 views, with the “Harness Racing in History” video alone reaching nearly 500,000 views in less than three months, making it the most successful promotional video in the sport’s history.
• Generated more than 130 potential owner leads via a limited digital advertising test, which demonstrated great promise for an expanded campaign.

On the development front, key highlights included the development and launch of the Harness Racing FanZone mobile application for both iOS (available for free at the iTunes store) and Android. Users of the mobile applications gained access to videos, photos, stories, the sport’s social Ambassador program, track information and more. Given the greater use of mobile technologies among key target audiences, enabling engagement with the sport through a mobile application was essential.

With 2016 fast approaching, the initiative’s key objectives for growth in the coming year include:

• Continue to rapidly expand positive visibility and engagement with the sport through more compelling content, engagement, promotions and contests.
• Conduct a focused owner recruitment initiative to identify more than 2,000 new potential owners.
• Expand efforts with horsemen’s groups and key tracks to enable better tracking of efforts to on-site attendance and handle. This will require deeper integration with tracks around efforts like online redeemable coupons and other activities.
• Work more closely with key global partners for potential expansion and collaboration. Discussions have been already been held with countries ranging from Australia to Sweden to participate in efforts and expand the initiative.
• Potential integration with a Harness Racing online channel to deliver key content more directly to audiences and help monetize the effort through subscriptions.
• Conduct the updated, high profile Grand Circuit promotional challenge.

Among media, production, content and other resources, the initiative spent approximately $331,000, of which $250,000 was provided by the USTA, $25,000 via a pledge from the Pennsylvania Harness Horsemen’s Association with the remaining $56,000 contributed by Rob Key, CEO of Converseon.

--release from USTA

 

Joel Weiner More than 1 year ago
Sounds like harness racing is now a very successful endeavor. Pass the rose colored glasses please.
robkey More than 1 year ago
Absolutely not yet Joel. But at least these are some positive steps in the right direction. Mobile apps, fanzone, harness racing ambassador program, new content, new audiences....there's no magic want but at least after 50 years of neglect, the sport is doing something for itself. And that, in of itself, deserves some credit. The question now is whether we let it die on the vine or give it the resources and collaboration needed to take it to next level.