This interview was originally posted on the Taboola Blog.
For one of the largest spectator sports in the world, there’s one thing that unites both new and longtime fans of the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing, better known as NASCAR.
Well, two things.
The need for speed, obviously—but in addition, NASCAR fans want and expect great content. Today, a sport that hosts more than 1,200 race events across the U.S., Canada, Mexico and Europe is engaging its massive and passionate fan base in ways unlike anything it’s done in the past.
We spoke with Sarah Davis, senior director of content rights and partnerships at NASCAR Digital Media, following the company’s recent partnership with Taboola to distribute branded content. She laid out some of the goals and objectives for the sport’s digital platform and discussed how NASCAR is reaching content-hungry fans in the digital age.
Q: This is NASCAR’s first time doing sponsored content. How have you charged into content marketing in the last few years?
“We brought digital advertising back in-house this year and have made an aggressive push behind both organic and sponsored content since doing so. We’re always trying to drive more people and engagement to our content, and sponsored content is a great way to do that.
We sponsor campaigns of all shapes and sizes, and in different ways depending on the goals of our clients.”
Q: NASCAR is the second largest fan sport in the USA after the NFL. With such a huge fan base, why do you feel like you need content marketing?
“One thing we know about our fans is that they absolutely crave content. Whether they’re new fans or have been fans for a lifetime, they want to see more racing, driver interviews, or any other content relevant to the sport.
For us it’s about finding new and innovative ways to deliver that content in compelling formats. We’re always looking for ways to do that—and to get in-depth coverage in front of the fans who want to see it.”
Q: Can you pinpoint the message you’d like to send? What story are you trying to tell with your content?
“We’re always trying to tell timely stories about our races. We have a really long season—the longest of all the major sports and we race weekly with rare exceptions. This means we have to act fast in finding really timely stories that are compelling. That’s what carries our fans from week to week.
We’re very pleased with sponsored content and its ability to reach our fans quickly in our time sensitive environment. We’re seeing really great results so far, and we hope to continue moving forward.”
Q: What are some of the biggest changes in digital, social and content you’ve experienced in your career?
“Consumption and demand for video is off the charts. We’ve had to become so much better and smarter about the type of content we’re distributing and producing as consumption habits have changed, but it’s been fun, and our fans have responded very positively.
For us, the main metrics of success are views and engagement, but specific goals can change depending on the content.”
Q: How did you get where you are today—how did you get into marketing for NASCAR?
“I started at Bank of America in its Sports, Olympic and Event Marketing group and then moved to charity management for professional athletes. I’m a huge sports fan, love the business of sports and have stuck with it throughout my career—from working with the national governing body of track and field (USATF), to serving as Senior Director of Business Affairs for INDYCAR and negotiating the agreements between the league and the racing venues.
I moved on to GMR and then owned my own sports marketing agency for a couple of years before I finally found my way to NASCAR Digital Media.”
Q: If you could do anything else besides marketing, what would it be?
“Running is my favorite hobby—I solve problems and work through stress on my runs. Beyond that, running is followed closely behind by cooking and drinking red wine.
If I could do anything else in the world besides marketing, it’d probably be that—own my own vineyard and make really good red wine.”
NASCAR began their partnership with Taboola in March of 2017.