by Mike Westgate, Vice President of Marketing at RealMassive
I grew up in a family of Spartan fanatics and attended Indiana University during the Bob Knight years, so to say college basketball is in my blood would be a massive understatement. IMHO, March is the best month of the year: SXSW, St. Patrick’s Day, and the NCAA Tournament all packed into four weeks of sheer glory. Aside from the sport itself, innovative branding and social marketing opportunities have cropped up in and around the tournament. Much the way the “Moneyball” concept revolutionized baseball, KenPom analysis (based on Dean Oliver’s Four Factors) and Adam Silver’s data science at FiveThirtyEight have modernized college basketball into a data-driven enterprise. It certainly calls into question the meaning and value of education for “student athletes”, but that’s an entirely different can of worms…
Access to sophisticated real-time data, the inherent social nature of game-time experiences, and the prevalence free online tournament pools make even the average hoops fan a relative expert come March. On the other side of the proverbial ball, college coaches have become incredibly effective through modern scouting technology and are even employing data scientists in-house. Sounds pretty similar to corporate America, doesn’t it? After all, you can barely go a single day without hearing a sports analogy: “what’s our game plan?”, “what plays do our competitors running?”, or “check the scoreboard”. Brands need competitive insights and there’s no shortage of big data, it’s just a matter of compiling and translating into business strategy. To continue with the sports analogy, I’ll roughly follow KenPom’s model which examines team and player efficiency scores to ultimately predict outcomes.