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Jan 07 2013

Mobile Marketer - NASCAR turbo-charges mobile strategy with responsive design, second-screen app


By Chantal Tode

NASCAR is turbo-charging its mobile strategy for 2013 with a revamped Web site that leverages responsive design and a new application to enhance the viewing experience for fans.

The car-racing organization is looking to mobile to help it attract new, younger consumers to the sport while also strengthening its ties with existing enthusiasts. These moves complement NASCAR’s existing mobile effort, which SMS and video.

“We went with a friendly, more educational feel for the Web site design, which naturally translated into tablet and mobile,” said John McHale, creative director at SapientNitro, Boston.

“We wanted to reach casual fans wherever they are,” he said.

“The goal was to bring NASCAR anywhere and to bring it into this new age of ‘I can get it now.’ If I can’t get what I am looking for, I may go someplace else to get it.”

NASCAR collaborated with agency SapientNitro on both the new site and app.

Storytelling a focus

With NASCAR’s fan base aging, the organization is looking to engage with a new, younger audience that active on mobile. The new site was designed with this goal in mind and uses responsive design to provide a consistent, seamless experience across desktop, tablet and mobile devices.

Content on the site includes information about NASCAR drivers and tracks, articles and educational videos.

Because the site is designed to reach casual fans, the focus is more on storytelling and less on stats.

To make the site tablet and smartphone friendly, it was designed with bigger buttons, a long scrolling page and the ability to share almost all of the content.

Content is filtered and presented slightly differently depending upon which device a user accesses it from.

Consistent experiences

For the smartphone experience, while not a lot of content has been filtered out, the orientation of content has been changed so users are viewing one thing at a time and can use slide gestures to easily move between content.

One of the biggest challenges from a mobile perspective was the navigation and how to make it easy to move around with just a few clicks.

SapientNItro decided to use responsive design instead of creating separate tablet and smartphone sites because it required less work than three sites and because the experience is more consistent.

“The experience on all platforms is so consistent – that was really important for us,” said Scott Petry, vice president at SapientNitro. “That kind of consistency is hard to do with multiple templates.

Keeping fans engaged

The new NASCAR Mobile ’13 second-screen app is intended to complement the live race day and will be available for tablet and mobile devices beginning mid-January.

While some other sports have strong in-stadium mobile experiences, this is not as much of a focus right now for NASCAR since so many of the tracks are in rural areas where connecting to a network can be challenging. So, instead the focus is on engaging fans who are not at the tracks via the second-screen app.

App features include the ability to view a virtualized version of drivers to users can watch them as they race. There is the ability to zoom out and watch race from above. Additionally, users can listen to audio feeds of radio channels for each of the drivers.

“The Web site content has to be everything we want content to be whereas, when you are talking about an app, you are thinking about a very specific purpose,” Mr. Petry said. “We intend for them to be sitting in front of the TV and having the tablet as a companion to the broadcast.”

“The second screen app is good for avid fans, it helps keep them engaged,” he said. “We had to make sure the avid fans were also engaged – that is important to overall fan development."

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