Athlete Fan Network: A paid digital strategy

By: Jared Levin & Eddie Fitzgibbon

“You are going to see a social media explosion – Twitch streams, TikTok dances – as players deal with their own boredom and further connect with fans.”Mark Cuban (3/15/2020)

Hello #sportsbiz professionals. Hope everyone is healthy and safe during these unprecedented times. We sure do miss live sports, don’t we?

We understand what is going on. It is heartbreaking to see what many of our #sportsbiz friends are going through in this moment. But despite this, sports fans, now more than ever, need their favorite teams and athletes as a ray of light in this otherwise dark environment.  


Staying connected through digital media is imperative for every sports property and athlete out there. According to Forbes, internet traffic has increased somewhere between 50%-70% in the last few weeks during this pandemic and streaming services traffic has increased at least 12%. Capitalizing on the heightened digital traffic, our team has crafted a solution to building on any marketing or sponsorship initiatives through the application of data and digital advertising. That specific product we are really excited about is called Athlete Fan Network and is what we are going to dive into below.


Source: Visual Capitalist

Did you know that only 10% of your fan base are reached when using just organic social media strategies? This concept applies for sports properties as well as individual athletes. The purpose of Athlete Fan Network is to amplify the reach of an athlete’s marketing or sponsorship initiatives through targeted paid digital media.

An athlete needs to stay connected with their fan base now more than ever and at a time when people are starving for athlete-related content, why not put some paid digital behind your initiatives to get in front of as many targeted eyeballs as possible?

4FRONT has been building digital campaigns like Fan Network for several years now with the Chicago Bears and Hendrick Motorsports, and now we are delivering this for athletes.

Fan Network, at its core, is a digital campaign that features co-branded creative assets. The primary goal of the campaign is the delivery to an expanded audience via programmatic display advertising. Our ability to use data to deliver marketing and sponsorship opportunities to an athlete’s extended fan base differentiates Athlete Fan Network. 4FRONT’s data-driven and digital media expertise combined with the objectives of the athlete will set up the campaign for success.

So what does this Athlete Fan Network thing look like? It’s relatively simple. First, 4FRONT gathers any available 1st party data from the athlete i.e. social followers, subscribers, website visitors and we combine it with 3rd party data in our Oracle DMP for optimal audience creation. From there, all we need is the creative imagery to use in the campaign which comes from the athlete or the athlete’s representation.

Source: Google Images

Based on the business objective of the campaign, 4FRONT buys and executes the digital ads on the pre-determined platforms. Fan Network campaigns typically run for about 4 weeks with a specific number of guaranteed impressions and metrics in place. Pricing varies.

There are two main ways to measure the effectiveness of the campaign. The first metric, and probably most applicable to an athlete’s focus, revolves around awareness. Awareness campaigns will be measured by impressions delivered, number of downloads, streams, follows or likes. The number of eyeballs is the most important piece here. The second metric is direct response. If you’re looking to track the overall return on ad spend, ROI, revenue or conversions on a campaign, then direct response (or call-to-action) is for you. Both campaigns have specific purposes, but it simply depends on what the athlete or athlete’s agency is looking to get out of the campaign.

If an athlete wants to increase YouTube subscribers or generate awareness on a new podcast or fundraising effort, then an awareness campaign makes more sense. If an athlete or athlete’s marketing agency is looking to track donation dollars, ROI or anything monetary based, then direct response campaigns are the way to go.

Our team is here to help your athlete(s) stay top-of-mind with their fans, while everyone is at home on their devices. This is a moment in time where athletes can truly leverage their marketability and sponsorships. The inventory, revenue and innovative opportunities are limitless through the power of Fan Network and our team wants to be part of your team to help you solve your business objectives.

If you’re interested in Athlete Fan Network & want to explore, feel free to reach out: or

 Click here to see some other COVID-19 resources we are providing.

“The attention of the end consumer is all that matters, and when you understand where it is…that’s where you need to strike, create and spend against.”Gary Vaynerchuk

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