The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) has relaunched its website to make it far more fan-friendly and easier for sponsors to engage with fans.
The new Nascar.com, unveiled this week, is designed to provide a better experience for the more than seven million unique monthly visitors who use the site each month, according to Marc Jenkins, VP of digital at NASCAR. NASCAR sanctions more than 1,200 races at 100 tracks in more than 30 U.S. states, Canada, Mexico, and Europe.
One of the main improvements is that the site dynamically resizes itself based on whether a user is looking at it on tablet, mobile, or computer. "A significant number of NASCAR fans will be viewing this on a mobile device," said Jenkins.
The site also has an updated look that gives it more of the feel of a social media platform than a website, which should attract younger users. Users can tweet, pin, and share content to social media, for example, and content from NASCAR's other social media sites is integrated into the site.
The old Nascar.com site.
The new Nascar.com site.
The new Nascar.com also seeks to reach out to a wider range of fans. "Due to the complex nature of our sport, we have fans at many different levels," said Jenkins. "We designed our new site to offer a personalized experience to fans at any level of experience."
Casual users who only tune in for the biggest racing events might be drawn in, for example, by the video tour of the Daytona Race Track, whereas a more experienced fan may want to check out the technology details in 3D of the new 6-GEN racing car, which will be launched in February.
Content will be focused on upcoming races, giving fans the opportunity to view event information on a week-to-week basis. The site also continues its role as a source of information on NASCAR-sanctioned race tracks and a place to order tickets.
Another part of the engagement effort is to bring the stories around the race car drivers to life, according to Ryan Scott, VP, customer engagement platforms at SapientNitro, which has been working with NASCAR to design and build the digital presence using its EngagedFan platform.
Users who click on "drivers," for example, see a large photo of each one with their rank, sponsor, the events they took part in, and points achieved. Further clicking on that photo brings them to the drivers' news and social media sites and lets fans share that if they choose.
"Letting users see more of the drivers' personalities helps them develop an allegiance to their favorite driver," said Scott. In the near future, users will be able to create a log-in that lets them personalize who they see news about when they enter the site.
Also coming are two mobile apps; NASCAR Mobile '13 will feature news, a race leaderboard, video, social media updates, in-car audio, and live data, and NASCAR RaceView Mobile '13, a premium app that will render a virtual live race environment, giving fans a way to follow their favorite driver in real time throughout the race on a second screen.
The increasing use by fans of second screens during a live race to get additional info also will provide new opportunities for NASCAR sponsors and team partners, Jenkins said. For example, sponsors could offer fans free access to premium content during the live race in exchange for additional brand exposure.
"The second screen experience continues to grow in popularity as fans are able to really drill down as a complement to the broadcast to receive robust and comprehensive data about their favorite driver, or any other real-time race scenario. This space continues to grow as a place for sponsors to activate with the fans," said Jenkins.
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Mary Lisbeth D'Amico is a freelance writer based in Jersey City who frequently covers digital marketing, social media, tech startups, and venture capital. She has contributed to a wide range of publications including The Wall Street Journal, Business Week, Red Herring, and Real Deals. Find her on Twitter at @mldamico.
March 19, 2014