Creating stand out content
The Dallas Cowboys stand out among NFL teams in two key ways when it comes to brand engagement. First, their fan base consists of some of the most hardcore football aficionados out there. Second, their digital storytelling game is hard to beat. From a robust editorial program of high-quality news coverage and features, to a cohesive set of Cowboys Talk podcasts, to their flagship publication Star Magazine, the Cowboys have built a highly successful, multichannel program to keep fans engaged all year long.
As a leader in content creation, the team is constantly exploring new ways to share stories with its audience online. “It’s incredibly important as the years go on to redefine how you present content because expectations and media change. We’re always looking for new ways to present stories that resonate with our audience,” says Derek Eagleton, Senior Director of Media & Programming.
In the 2015 offseason, the Cowboys’ media group began to look for a platform to create more dynamic, interactive experiences to keep both die-hard fans and casual followers engaged with their brand.
“We were seeing The New York Times and other publications creating long-form content that also incorporated interactive elements like integrated videos, full-screen graphics, and clickable maps,” Derek says. “Seeing how other publishers were bringing their stories to life piqued our interest.”
The Challenge: Digital Innovation on a Tight Turnaround
The Cowboys’ search for an interactive storytelling platform coincided with the production of their Deep Blue documentary series. In addition to the broadcast videos and traditional longform articles, they wanted to bring those fantastic stories to life in a more creative way than simply posting the videos online. In order to do so, they knew they needed to invest in software—coding interactive content from scratch wouldn’t have been efficient, given their tight production timelines and resource limitations.
“We looked at a few interactive companies, but no one had what we were looking for until Ceros,” says Derek. “We wanted to empower our designers and content creators to create longform interactive experiences, without having to hire additional people to make it happen. Ceros allowed us to do that.”
The Solution: A Platform to Drive Efficiency and Creativity
Using the platform and creative services, the Cowboys were able to get up and running immediately. They built out interactive biographies to pair with their televised broadcasts quickly without sacrificing on the creative side.
“Ceros helps us bring longform stories to life. With the platform, it’s easy to break down complex or monotonous information into interesting, digestible content,” says Derek.
In addition to their Deep Blue series, the Cowboys have created a number of other pieces for their media program, including interactive game recaps built by in-house staff.
“Our team really likes using the tool. It makes it very simple to put together post-game pieces in just an hour or two on Monday morning.”
The Results: Strong Engagement and Positive Sentiment
The Cowboys are at the start of their journey with interactive content, but they’re excited to apply learnings from 2015 as they continue to build out their program.
“With any new type of content, you have to grow it, nurture it, pay attention to how your audience responds, and look at the patterns. We’ve learned some valuable lessons about how to design interactive pieces and distribute them to our fans,” Derek says.
While the Cowboys didn’t set any concrete performance benchmarks for their Ceros content last year, they did monitor social sentiment around it, and the feedback was overall very positive. Now that they have a baseline for their interactive pieces, they’ll be looking at ways to improve both reach and engagement in 2016.