NCAA Expands Use of Video Magazine

The National College Athletics Association (NCAA) is broadening its use of a downloadable video magazine used to market its messages to member universities.

“We’ve tried to put a face on the NCAA for a long time. We’re a bureaucratic organization, mainly dealing with members over the phone. To put a face to the delivery of the information — I cannot put a price tag on that,” said Kevin Lennon, VP of membership services with the NCAA.

The Vmag, produced by NEWgame Communications, combines audio, video, text and Web links to deliver content to a targeted, opt-in audience. The NCAA began using the Vmag in early 2004 to communicate with Division I compliance coordinators at 300 universities. This week, the program will be expanded to distribute legislative, technical, and staff updates to compliance coordinators, athletic directors and coaches at more than 1200 universities.

Additional Vmags are in the works for other constituencies, including one for university presidents. Future Vmags are planned for student-athletes and prospective student-athletes in high schools.

There are no ads in the NCAA’s current corporate communications-based Vmags, but Lennon left open the possibility for ads in Vmags targeting student-athletes and prospects. The NCAA services more than 360,000 student-athletes each year, an audience that would be attractive to advertisers.

“We have a number of corporate partners that have aligned themselves with the NCAA because they respect the values of what we’re trying to accomplish,” Lennon said. “As we try to get positive messages out there about the value of sport, it’s going to be natural that we visit with our corporate partners about ways they want to work with us down the road.”

NEWgame’s technology allows users to download the content in the background, through what NEWgame CEO Kathleen Hessert calls a “polite” delivery method. First, the user opts in to a Vmag from a link on a Web site, CD, or email. Next, they download and install the Vmag player. Once the player is installed, the Vmag content begins to download in the background while the user is connected to the Internet. If the recipient goes offline, the download picks up where it left off. A small branded logo alerts the subscriber once the Vmag has arrived.

“Our use of cache-and-play technology allows the Vmag to play on any connection speed so they will reach a broader audience than a streaming video that can only be played on a broadband connection,” Hessert said.

The reporting available on Vmags allows the NCAA to see who downloaded it, which pages they viewed and for how long, and how many times they shared it with others. On average, the NCAA Vmag is viewed twice, with some recipients viewing parts of it as many as ten times.

“The fact that we can determine who’s viewing it, how often they’re viewing it, and what portions they’re viewing gives us a tool that we’ve never had before, when we sent paper in their direction and had no idea what they’d do with that,” Lennon said.

Other clients using Vmags include tour operator Vacation Express and Saint Mary’s College.

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