Current Issue
This Month's Print Issue

Follow Fast Company

We’ll come to you.

Circle Media Connects Fans With Sponsors By Listening To The Data

Brands often sponsor live events based on gut instinct, but Circle Media CEO Mark Piening claims there's a smarter way. His Austin-based company, partially funded by branding agency MotherNY, makes the sponsorship process all about data. Tell us more, Mark!

So, how can analytics help the sponsors of events?

"Let's use a hypothetical Austin music festival: It triggers a whole series of decisions about how people are going to get there and where they'll stay. Knowing what people are talking about online allows brands to connect [with attendees] and create personalized offers."

How do you collect that information?

"There's lots available—through apps, or we can listen to a hashtag, or use geo-fencing technology, for example. We provide a platform that allows brands to see who's attending, who they're with, what they shared, what they want to do, what they think, and whether they amplified your message. Like Nielsen for TV, we help standardize measurement to make the sponsorship market more efficient." That means getting people to share things. Why should they? "If you really want them to engage, give people access to things that make them feel great. So you can take things that sponsors are already doing—like offering a backstage pass or a signed guitar after an event—and make them digitally driven."

What good is this at the actual event?

"You can have a near real-time data feed [and respond to it]—for example, if you're asking people to tweet with a hashtag, we can pull that into a database and show a brand what's going on. If you know more about the audience, you can offer each person or group a different concessions deal, or something else to encourage them to spend more money. It's thinking about every dimension of the experience."

[Illustration by Andy J. Miller; Michael Spitz (icons)]

A version of this article appeared in the September 2013 issue of Fast Company magazine.