Interview: How Are The WWE Leveraging Mobile?

We speak to Rob Kligman ahead of his presentation in New York


Ahead of his presentation at the Mobile Innovation Summit in New York on March 10 & 11, we spoke to Rob Kligman,Vice President, Digital & Integrated Sales at World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) about his thoughts on mobile technology, apps and the changing digital landscape.

Innovation Enterprise: What do you think is key to a good mobile app? How important do you think they are to a company’s success now?

Rob Kligman: A good mobile app continues to put the consumer first and takes into consideration the user experience at every turn, insuring the overall experience continues to excel. Real estate on a mobile device is scarce when compared to the desktop and a good app will continue to find innovative ways to keep the user accessing and using the app. The Amazon shopping app does a great job of providing suggestions to pair with my purchase and go beyond what I was first envisioning.

Nearly two-thirds of American adults (64%) now own a smartphone of some kind. It is important for companies to think mobile first as more people use their phones to conduct everyday business. We need to be where our consumers are consuming content.

How do you think the mobile market is changing? What challenges do you see arising over the next year?

The mobile market is changing as we see apps like Uber, AirBNB and NEST become crucial to our daily living habits. No longer are they just informational destinations but rather life assisting apps. The mobile handset is quickly becoming your lifeline to operating many features in your house such as lights, garage doors, burglar alarms, security cameras and thermostats.

Challenges I see arising over the next year is the difficulty in distinguishing one app from another. User reviews are terrific but as more competition rises how does one app distinguish itself from another or does the consumer just tire of the old and move onto the new, creating virtually no brand loyalty.

WWE obviously has an extraordinary reach in terms of the age group of the viewer. How difficult is it to create a mobile strategy that appeals to both the younger audience, as well as adults?

WWE is a very generational brand and we do a great job producing content channels that offer outlets to names and events of the past and present. For example, WWE created a show on the WWE Network, our 24/7 streaming app called Legends House that takes eight WWE legends and place them under one roof for the fans to watch. This content brings back the generation that knew these legends in their prime but also introduces a younger generation to an older talent through a model that the younger generation is familiar with by using a production style that is very reminiscent to the 18-34 year old MTV Real Word concept.

It is extremely difficult to appeal to both the younger and adult audience. The younger audience does not want to be compromised by having their parents age group consume the same vehicles they are consuming. The elusive and very advertiser craved teen demographic is leaving Facebook for new apps such as Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter at an estimated rate of up to a million a year. The opportunity is in creating content and apps targeted to each audience. How can you create a 'cool factor' and stick with it. Perception is very important for Gen X and early adopters and is the key to a successful app.

The amount of data that companies gather is a big part of retaining and attracting new customers. How much of an impact does it have on your own digital strategy?

Data is key, however it is imperative to have a strategy to use the data in a smart way. Data enables us to understand our audience and how they are consuming content and the overall experience. We leverage data not only for delivering content but identifying core consumers and finding others that have similar attributes and behaviors.

Data has a major impact on our overall digital strategy as well as providing valuable advertising products and services for our partners.

Are there any digital initiatives you’re looking to implement this year to boost fan engagement that you think are particularly exciting?

eSports and virtual reality continue to be key initiatives that I feel will continue to boost fan engagement.

The fact that more than 27.6 million people in the US either watch or participate in eSports tells you this is not going anywhere but up! The demographic for eSports is a young male, a demographic that is hard to reach through traditional marketing and easy to see why brands such as Coke, RedBull, T-Mobile and Intel have jumped on early.

Virtual Reality fits nicely into the WWE spectrum as it offers the ability to provide a premium 360-degree VR experience which gives fans presence and proximity to some of their favorite action and sports moments. This will be a vehicle many sports companies look towards for the future to continue growing their fan bases.

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