Thursday, December 20, 2012
Soccer. The mere mention of the word creates division amongst sports fans in the United States, but its global popularity is unparalleled. Regardless of your feeling on the sport itself, soccer may have helped inspire an evolution of social media.
In an effort to provide a web application that gives soccer fans access to “Stats worth Sharing,” Squawka.com created a second-screen channel that provides fans with real-time data, coupled with social chat capabilities. Through a combination of unmatched data analysis and the appeal of social media, the London-based company has taken the consumption of second-screen media to new heights.
For Atwal and co-founder Leo Harrison, the inspiration to create Squawka came down to a strong passion for the sport, coupled with a drive for more information and data.
“I think the future of, not just football, but all global sports is that fans are becoming more educated,” said Atwal. “The fans are coming to a point where they want to do the analysis themselves. They want to be spoken to and dictated less by the media about, ‘This guy is good. This guy is bad. I thought this. I thought that.’ They want more empirical evidence.”
However, soccer has long been associated with traditionally accepted statistics, so breaking into this realm of recognizable numbers would take a significant differentiator. Squawka believes they have constructed an algorithm that provides the necessary innovation.
“What we are really trying to do is give fans the power to analyze what is really going on in a game. It has never really been done before at the level that we do, because it is a bit of a big data challenge,” explained Atwal. “It is a challenge to take all of that data and then visualize it as quickly as possible in a social and friendly way. So it is a big operation, and there is a huge bit of technology behind it.”
The prospect of ground-breaking data analysis certainly holds a high level of appeal (which has been mirrored by the early voting for the Europa People’s Choice Award that Atwal and the team are vying for), but what else allows Squawka to stand out? In order to thrive as a second-screen application, Atwal and his team have provided fans with the opportunity to take their analysis to the next level.
"The great thing is the head-to-head (application). You can choose two players, pair them up against each other and see how they are performing across (different) disciplines. To make this easier, we also built a big-data (application) called Performance Score. We take all of the action that has happened on the football field with the ball, and we built what we call a scenario-based algorithm. To cut to the chase, it is one of the most statistically accurate ways of analyzing a player’s performance anywhere.”
Now if all of this discussion about data sounds a bit familiar, it should. The phrase “Data is King” is commonly used throughout ExactTarget and the digital marketing industry, and this is a perfect illustration of the growth of data in sports. The ability to pull in large quantities of data and translate it into easily understood and accessible content is crucial, and having the ability to instantly relay that information is even more vital. With consumers communicating in real time, companies looking to capitalize across social channels must be able to utilize this to their advantage. Fortunately, Squawka has implemented a way to do this as well.
“For the normal football fan, they can go in and tell Squawka which game they are watching and be presented with a half-page of push and pull social media. They can post on our platform, we can push out to Twitter and link their Twitter accounts, and we can link to Facebook and push out to their Facebook accounts. All while also pulling in relevant Twitter accounts for that particular game.”
But is the data relevant? Why would someone want to share it? Squawka’s application is still in the beginning stages of its existence, but because of their early success and pioneering vision, companies capable of taking the application to the next level financially have already begun to take notice. This has allowed the Squawka team to expand their offering to Series A and bring in even more soccer leagues and analysts.
In Part 2 of my interview with Squawka co-founder and CEO Sanjit Atwal, we'll discuss how Squawka is leveraging their impressive offering to grow the application’s monetary value and relevancy.
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