Assistant Director of Branding, Marketing & Business Intelligence for the Green Bay Packers, Garrison Cummings has been with the team for 14 years, and in that time he has seen not only the team’s on-field success, but also the ongoing shifts in the media measurement landscape.
In this discussion with Comscore’s Gordon Jones, VP of national television sales, Mr. Cummings shares how the NFL franchise has utilized cross-platform media measurement products to engage their casual fans and super-fans alike.
Gordon Jones: I'd like to highlight some of the Green Bay Packers achievements during Mr. Cummings’ 14 year tenure, including a 66 win percentage, eight NFC North Division titles, making the playoffs 11 times, having five NFC Championship appearances, and capping it with a Super Bowl win in 2011. Can you share with us your hand in those achievements at the organization?
Garrison Cummings: I don't know if I had much hand in that but I think the one thing I've learned is that there's a ton of smart people that really support the football side. Their goal is to win championships, and you just love to see how they focus on the smallest details to get them there. It's great!
Q: Onto measurement and data. Can you provide a few of the responsibilities in your role and business intelligence for the Packers?
Garrison: My role is to understand our fans. We have fans that attend the games at Lambeau Field, and we have fans that will never attend a game in-person. These fans really follow the team on TV and social media so if you think about all these channels and what they're engaging on, we need to understand them, and we also need to understand their motivations. We really try to align our knowledge of the fans to the content and experiences that we create for them from the data that we get from Comscore, the social platforms themselves and our research that we do in-house.
Q: What key changes have you seen in measurement during the last 14 years with the Packers and how have they impacted your work in your role in business intelligence?
Garrison: A great question! You know, it's funny. Sometimes I go back and look at what I did when I first started, and a lot of it was on spreadsheets. Anyone that's been in data, you can pretty much say that things started with spreadsheets and stats . But over the past four to six years, that really has shifted into more-so telling the stories of our fans. What is really driving the business rather than just “hey, here's what happened.” I think the one thing that everyone can appreciate is that there's data everywhere. There are times when we could just measure a platform and that was good. Now, we really have to be able to understand, what are the fans doing on the platform, how are they accessing the platform, what platforms are they on, and finally, what is the differentiation between the types of fans that we have? That is where a lot has changed over the course of the 14 years I've been here.
Q: It's interesting, because data provides the ability to infer insights as well as stories. What is the driving change in terms of the need to tell those stories, and how has measurement played a key role in being able to meet those needs in terms of insights and stories?
Garrison: A lot of the change has been from the platforms themselves. They're providing more data, and our internal stakeholders are driving this change by asking more questions, and we're challenged with trying to really dive into it. If you look at websites, we're asked “how many visits” or “how many banner ads do they see,” and what does that look like over time?
Today that extends to “what type of fan is coming to our site, what are those demographics”? I would also say the partners play a role. They used to express interest in advertising with the Packers on whatever platform we were on but now they ask to learn more about who our fans are, whether they align with their own demographic and what outcomes that can anticipate. The challenge is responding to what stakeholders and our partners are looking for. Even our fans play a role because they are on different platforms but they want to be able to have a cohesive experience. The challenge for us is how do we serve that up and create those experiences across platforms?
Q: You talk about better understanding your fans and your fandom world. You have new generations with generational behavioral changes, and those changes they may not be so inclined to gravitate to football, to the team and so on. What measurements and what data are you looking for to be able to understand that, and help bring them into the into the fold, if you will?
Garrison: Recently we've done a lot more research with our fans, and we are really beginning to piece together what their motivations are. When we look to creating these personas and creating these buckets of fans, we really look at are the markers that can move them from one bucket to the other. Also we look at where they are engaging with content and consuming. It's always a challenge to know what will move you from a casual fan to an avid supporter – but, through our research and measuring kinds of markers on the platforms, we can start to piece together how fans can go from casual to avid, and really coax them along that that path.
Q: One of the interesting things that I got to know in working with you is the fact that you produce a fair amount of original content, and a fair amount of that content is on linear television. In fact, you have a unique Green Bay Packers affiliate world with 16 different stations. So, going back to linear TV - what challenges have you had there, particularly when you think about the generational element we just talked about, but also media fragmentation as people can go to other platforms to be able to watch?
Garrison: There are so many platforms, the media is fragmented, but really, the goal is the same: how do we get in front of it. Speaking specifically on linear, being able to look at that market data, understanding the demographics and how we connecting with those fans in those different markets is about being able to tie that together for our sponsorship team and for our broadcast team. Who they're actually addressing on a channel is really important. With our social team, we look at how they take that linear content and put it onto the social channels. This is always a challenge, and I think it's only going to continue with continuing media fragmentation.
Q: Are there two or three measurement best practices that you could share that you all employ to better understand your audience, your fans, and so on?
Garrison: I think a lot of it comes down to the analysis we have, to better tailor for our audience. If it's our sponsorship team versus our content team, the data that we pull is really going to be dependent upon that audience. It's really about finding those stories, rather than just stats. I think one of my favorite measures is the audience stickiness on broadcast. Seeing how fans are consuming and staying on a broadcast, or one of our games - I think it is really great to be able to see that engagement. Not only how they're doing, but also, how does that correlate to once the broadcast is over, are they coming to our site, to social [channels,] you're seeing those engagements. That to me, is one of the key things, tailoring it to stories versus stats.
Q: We can’t wind up this discussion without the biggest question, how do you think the Packers will finish the season?
Garrison: The goal is always to win championships, I'm going to really enjoy every game. Being on this side, you begin to really just enjoy the story and the journey that the team goes on.
For the recording of this discussion and the full presentation from the Comscore webinar “Scoring with Comscore,” click here.