Stagwell’s AR platform signs Kansas City Royals to boost engagement for fans at games

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Stagwell is expanding its augmented reality platform with more immersion and data features as sports teams try to boost their engagement during game days.

The holding company’s AR platform ARound, part of the Stagwell Marketing Cloud, teamed up with Kansas City Royals for the 2023 baseball season, which kicked off last week. It launched in Kauffman Stadium, with the app called Crown Vision AR, geared toward the venue’s potential 38,000 sports audience.

The app gives users interactive features during the game, such as contests, loyalty programs and other brand sponsorships for the Royals. The financial and data agreement between the two was not made available. They did not say how many users have downloaded the app.

Tony Snethen, vp of brand innovation at Kansas City Royals, sees the technology as an opportunity to “engage the next generation of baseball fans,” he said in a provided statement.

This marks the third professional sports team partnering with Stagwell on its ARound platform, after the agency reported growing engagement times after launching with the Los Angeles Rams and Minnesota Twins in late 2022.

Stagwell said there is no data yet for the Kansas City Royals given it launched last week. With the Minnesota Twins, engagement time was more than 25 minutes per fan during the game, which exceeded the action time on the field — typically an average of 18 minutes for Major League Baseball, according to the agency. The action time refers to the total playtime, excluding the downtime spent on replays, reaction shots, analysis and other breaks. Data was not provided for the Rams nor did Stagwell say how many users overall had downloaded the app.

Crown Vision AR will add additional immersive and interactive elements to the app as the platform expands to other leagues and sports.

The feature is a way for Stagwell to expand AR experiences to other types of live events, from live concerts to other sports. The agency sees the integration as a way to make AR experiences more scalable for future partnerships, said Josh Beatty, founder and CEO of ARound, Stagwell’s unit overseeing AR development for clients.

“It’s really kind of starting to provide a great base for not only new entertainment, but also new integration,” Beatty told Digiday. “One thing that we’re really focused on this year is integrating into sports data feeds, pulling out real time information. So it is hyper relevant, it’s automated, but it’s also easily scalable.”

Using AR for sports engagement has been a part of the holding company’s strategy in testing the metaverse and Web3 technologies.

Other agencies have launched metaverse campuses, recruitment and collaboration spaces to test retail apps and other client activations. David Matathia, head of strategy at Fitzco, believes people are going back to appreciating in-person experiences — but there is a delicate balance to creating a complementary AR experience.

“The tension is that AR experiences in these settings can isolate or remove us from the very thing we’re craving in [live, in-person, shared experiences]. So the need is to ensure AR is additive and limited to moments in the overall event,” Matathia said.

Currently, ARound said the AR content is capturing the attention of younger audiences and casual fans at games. But the goal is to draw in sports enthusiasts next, given that they value stats and real-time feeds. Some of the features include real-time integration, such as different effects as players hit or other effects after home runs. Beatty did not provide a more specific breakdown of its user base.

“We want to bring in the enthusiasts this year… and really think about how we can almost create curated channels based on their needs and their experiences,” Beatty said. “All that can then be folded over into concerts and other live events.”

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