In 2010, the world turned its collective focus to Canada, when Vancouver played host to more than 92 countries for the Olympic Winter Games. The seventeen-day event saw athletes, artists, musical acts, volunteers and regular Canadians welcome millions of visitors to Vancouver to celebrate sport, diversity and to promote togetherness. The spirit of the games was in our city and we wanted the world to share an experience like never before. However, what we didn’t quite realize when it all started, was just how profound this spectacle would be in changing how large events would be seen, heard, and experienced from that point on.
It wasn’t anything taking place inside the ice rink or in the grandstands up at Cypress Mountain for the ski cross that was shifting the earth; it was in how fans around the world were engaging and experiencing the games, the venues, and the city itself.
Broadcast 24/7 to friends and followers – genuinely inspire them to listen, to act, and to buy.– Darshan Kaler, CEO & Co-Founder
A new world order
My employer back then – tasked with broadcasting the Canadian Olympic story to the world – was unceremoniously usurped by an army of citizen journalists, photographers and publishers working faster and more omnipresent than we’d ever seen before. The stories our newly-discovered competition were breaking competed head-to-head with traditional media outlets at a pace that couldn’t be matched. Social media had gone mainstream. Overnight, viewers weren’t relying on “The Big 3” media broadcasters to represent their experiences any longer; they were being fed a steady stream of peer-to-peer shared experiences in real-time. It was at that moment that digital fans became a reality.
Fan data realized
The 2010s represent a renaissance in music, sports, and entertainment. Each industry was taken over by a new kind of consumer – one that demanded it creates and curates their own experiences. Music fans bypassed record stores by streaming live. Movie lovers left theatres and bought on-demand. Sports fans tweeted their own commentaries from their couches. For me, this was when I knew it was time to stop fighting the flood and ride the wave fans had formed.
Fans now demand a direct relationship with the personalities and brands they adore. Fans seek their own moments and write their own headlines. Fans broadcast 24/7 to friends and followers – genuinely inspiring them to listen, to act, and to buy.
In 2010, I recruited my co-founder Dmitry Khrisanov and created the start of what’s now known as Tradable Bits. The idea was simple: fans can trade bits of information for more personalized products and experiences. Not unlike a friendly barista that remembers your daily latte, we believed fans would be happier and sales would improve if our partners could really know who their customers were, and what they liked.
Here’s the rub: digital personalization is much more complicated than remembering someone’s coffee order. Many companies store PII (contact information, affinity, purchases, etc.) in legacy CRMs that don’t easily integrate. Using fan data to discern a customer’s current interests and lead status was an extremely complex technical challenge. But we solved it.
Our first (free, beta) product quickly rose to the Top 10 most popular apps on Facebook. It wasn’t long after we had more than 17 million monthly active users. It became quite clear our fans were clamoring to build relationships with artists, athletes, and brands that would directly interact with them – from Disney to K-pop to NFL athletes and teams.
By scaling segmentation, we were eventually able to show our partners just how powerful collecting fan data is for connecting customers with their products and brands. This involved bridging the fan data gaps between ticketing, live activations, social networks, streaming services, and legacy CRMs to create a Single Fan View – a difficult, but not impossible, technical feat. Our aim was to keep the fan in control of their own experiences and data. By securely collecting and storing only information that improved fan experiences, and allowing customers the ability to easily erase any data they’ve shared with one of our partners, we could provide a truly personalized, trusted journey.
A leader in fan marketing
Through our machine-learning powered Fan CRM, any fan can choose to link their interests with our partners, receiving relevant, real-time recommendations. Fans have awesome experiences with the brands they love, while our partners enjoy sold-out events, happy sponsors, and higher profits.
Tradable Bits is currently a global leader in transforming entertainment into a fan-based industry, rather than a broadcast industry. With our partners in North America, Europe, and Australia, we’re on the front lines of digital marketing, advocating and proving the value of fan data. We connect conversations across social media, streaming services, ticketing, and on-site, alongside platforms such as Spotify, Facebook, TikTok, Twitter, and other fan industry giants.
With lockdown and social distancing, the term live today has a very different meaning. With events being limited to no fans, or a fraction of regular attendance, the entire fan experience has been turned on its head. To bridge the gap between fans and the game or artists that they love during this challenging time, we released an interactive broadcast product called FanXP. FanXP is a technology specifically built for event organizers to create unique, two-way digital interactions with fans during Livestream broadcasts. With people unable to and possibly apprehensive about attending games and concerts in person, there is an incredible opportunity for our partners to be innovative and leave a lasting impact on how live events are presented, consumed, and experienced by their fans.
Ten years on from my experience at the Olympic Winter Games, I truly believe my team unites fans by co-creating moments they’ll remember for the rest of their lives. But this time, the world isn’t coming to Vancouver, we’re bringing Vancouver to the world.
Co-Founder & CEO