Engagement Beyond the Match: Q&A With Squawka’s Sanjit Atwal

Native advertising and brand engagement metrics

Back in September, second-screen football companion app Squawka made headlines when BBH became a major shareholder in the nascent platform. With its real-time data visualizations for fans, the app has partnered up with brands like Gillette and Dominos among others. Prior to his presentation at AdMonsters Screens on Monday, 19 November in London, we caught up with Squawka CEO and Founder Sanjit Atwal to hear about the BBH deal, the nuances of consumer engagement and native advertising on the platform.

I’m a little confused, your site is supposed to be about football stats, but I don’t see any info on touchdowns, interceptions, sacks… This is all about SOCCER! All kidding aside, does Squawka plan to expand to other sports?

Absolutely! Our first goal is to ensure we have delivered soccer (cough *football*) fans the most amazing second screen experience possible. We have built our platform in a manner that would make sense for another sport to be plugged and we have a pretty good idea of the next sports that we will give a Squawka makeover to! 

How did your partnership with agency BBH come about? Can you go into some detail about what it means for advertising with Squawka (not exclusivity!)? What will you get out of working with Zag, the ventures arm?

We are lucky to have had a pretty strong media background before starting Squawka and word soon got out that we were open to taking on partners that would compliment our own offering and skill set. BBH, like nearly all agencies at the moment, are looking for ways in which their clients can engage meaningfully with users across second screen and sports is obviously a hot sector for campaigns. Advertising with Squawka will continue as it has been – if anything we have had greater interest from the leading agencies now BBH are involved! 

With the ventures arm of BBH (Zag) we are receiving valuable corporate level support – something technology startups rarely have access to pre-Series A investment.  

So Squawka ‘engaged’ 10,000 football fans during Euro 2012 – since you guys pride yourself on stats, what kind of cool engagement metrics can you share? What are you highlighting with advertisers?

Well there is a lot to talk about but the ones I found most fascinating were analysing user behaviour during games. for example, we saw some games in which we had an average engagement time of 42 minutes!

The opportunity for a brand to have a meaningful conversation in this period is obvious. A great example is Dominos who saw massive 2.5% click through rates by changing the call to action to co-incide with the events on the pitch. We have now grown and are engaging many thousands of football fans a day (and growing rapidly) and are looking forward to deploying more campaigns as we approach Christmas.

Sadly, being an American I can’t access the Gillette Football Club channel on YouTube, but can you explain how Squawka is involved? How did your participation come about? Are other advertisers going to get involved?

Our role in the Gillette Football Club came about through out close relationships with agencies Mediacom and subsequently Proximity BBDO Paris. We were ‘sent’ to Paris to discuss a new Proctor & Gamble initiative in which the Gillette brand could get closer to football fans via YouTube. We were asked how stats & visualisations could be included and came up with concept to use our deep data intelligence to link to player videos. The project is in beta but has shown signs of a roadmap other advertisers could follow.

You know, native advertising is, like, a huge thing right now in the U.S.; it would seem Squawka’s platform could offer some interesting perks in that department. Have you or are you going to run any cool campaigns that take advantage of Squawka’s unique offering?

We are all about cool campaigns! We have some uber-cool briefs out there with agencies in which we really expand the current thinking behind second-screen advertising. I won’t give too much away but the industry has only just scratched the surface of what this channel can offer! In short, it’s all very exciting….!

OPS The age of multi-screen is upon us. Whether you’re interested in mobile, tablet, IPTV, goggles, or other enabled devices, learn cutting edge techniques and best practices from industry leaders and get involved in discussions with expert panelists only at AdMonsters Screens, Nov. 19 in London.