ESPN unveiled the newly redesigned XGames.com, a mobile-forward destination for fans of extreme sports and the lifestyle that goes with them. It also released a new X Games mobile app that will provide second-screen companion features to be used while watching TV, as well as a full mobile website experience.
The new XGames.com is packed with media and features for action-hungry, attention-deficit fans, including Tricktrack to provide information about stunts athletes are performing in real time; a HypeMeter to measure digital and social media excitement at any point in time; and a pop-up, editorially driven sidecar module that pops up to display various facts, figures and graphics alongside the video player, putting the action into context.
The redesigned navigation takes a cue from phone and tablet navigation, using content modules aligned horizontally instead of vertically, so they can be swiped across the screen. The goal, said Adam Deutsch, senior director of product development for Global X Games, was to better merchandize the content.
On the old site, a subsection of ESPN.com, "We saw that lot of content below the fold got very little engagement," Deutsch said. In fact, approximately 80 percent of clicks came from above the fold. "That content below the fold was good, but it was not merchandised in a way to get in front of a fan the way we wanted to. [Now], if it's worthy of being on the page, it will be featured prominently."
The new site has four content clusters that are swiped left to right. With nothing below the fold, any ad that appears is 100 percent viewable.
In addition to the array of ads already appearing on XGames.com, the redesign enabled two new ad products: product placement alongside content and interstitial ads between the swipe-able modules. The TrickTrack and HypeMeter features can be sponsored and can take many forms, including preroll before the TrickTrack engages and product placement.
Deutsch said that product placements are well aligned with X Games culture. "The same way that athletes are fully branded when competing in X Games or NASCAR, the site itself can also behave in a similar way." Current advertisers include Repreve and North Face.
With the expansion of the X Games from three events to six, promotion of the app and site redesign are built into ESPN's overall promotions. During TV broadcasts, fans will be encouraged to check out the mobile site and app.
Beginning in April, X Games will localize content to suit the language preferences of every region where a global X Games event is taking place across all digital platforms, with text translated into French, Portuguese, German, Spanish and Catalan.
Deutsch said the overall design and execution, done mostly in-house with support from Sapient Nitro, was targeted to the X Games' young, mobile demographic. One fan summed it up, "It fits the X Game culture so well: a little chaotic but appropriately so."
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Susan Kuchinskas has covered interactive advertising since its invention. The former staff writer for Adweek, Business 2.0, and M-Business covers technology, business and culture from Berkeley, CA.
March 19, 2014