When it comes to baseball, the Las Vegas Aviators do minor league in a major way. Their stadium — newly-opened Las Vegas Ballpark — was voted Ballpark Digest’s Best Ballpark of 2019. The Ballpark attendance led all of Minor League Baseball.
“Moving into Las Vegas Ballpark has been a great catalyst in our success this season,” Chuck Johnson, General Manager/VP of Marketing & Sales, tells ToneDen.
New spaces, new names: facelifts for old favorites. The Triple-A affiliate of the Oakland A’s, the Aviators were known as the Las Vegas 51s until earlier this year. With the rebrand, the Aviators, a member of the Pacific Coast League, pay homage to Howard Hughes, the namesake for the team’s ownership, Howard Hughes Corporation, whose aviation legacy was the inspiration. The relocation from downtown Las Vegas was another key step in the success of the team this season. The Howard Hughes Corporation, which owns the master-planned community of Summerlin, understood the value that sports can bring to their neighborhoods and were eager in enhancing the active lifestyle that fits with its residents.
Coming to Summerlin “has brought the team to an area of the city that has direct access to a few hundred thousand residents,” Johnson shares.
But even fans at hand need to be fed the right ads. That’s why the Aviators turned to ToneDen. So far, so good, says Johnson: “We have had an extremely positive experience with ToneDen.”
Monetizing the Social Space
For 20 years, Johnson has been intimately acquainted with the Aviators’ franchise. He came onboard back in 1995 as a sponsorship and ticket sales account executive. “Success in generating revenue and building relationships played an important role as my responsibilities grew.”
Today, Johnson oversees an internal team that manages sponsorship sales while handling the Aviators’ marketing and advertising. That’s no small task. The season comprises 70 games between April and August.
When ToneDen Sales Director (and baseball buff) Sterling Witt reached out to the Aviators about the potential benefits the platform could offer, Johnson was intrigued. After all, he says, “finding a way to better monetize the social space has been a goal.”
Now, after a season using ToneDen, Johnson — a self-professed novice with the ToneDen platform — is pleased. “It works hand-in-hand with all of our media promoting ticket sales to our baseball games. The creation of the campaign was simple. We’ve watched it work all season with very little tweaks.”
One Campaign, 70 Games
For any sports organization with a busy calendar of games, ToneDen’s Dynamic Event Ads offer a time-saving and profit-maximizing solution to the challenge of developing a marketing strategy that’ll span months. As Johnson puts it, with ToneDen, “we set it and forget it.”
"We’ve watched it work all season with very little tweaks.”
Dynamic Event Ads allow marketers to advertise an entire calendar of events with the construction of a single ad campaign. Ads are served to fans based on the interest those fans express: in other words, if you click on a Facebook ad for the Aviators vs. the Fresno Grizzlies, you’ll continue to see ads for that game — that is, unless it sells out. Synced to the franchise’s ticketing platform, ToneDen automatically updates the DEA catalogue based on timing and availability.
For this season’s DEA remarketing campaign, Johnson spent $41.98. “Having the ability to prospect new fans through the social space is incredibly important,” Johnson tells us. “Being able to remarket to fans has been equally important as we try and increase purchases from one game to several.” Given the team’s long season, opportunities for repeat business abound.
As do opportunities for grand-slam profits. That $41.98 netted the Aviators almost $10,000 in revenue — an astounding 227.3x return on ad spend. Johnson is impressed with what DEAs have delivered. “We believe in them wholeheartedly,” he says.
The Sports Industry’s Next Secret
The Aviators are flying high, and Johnson is curious about what the future will bring. “We are a different animal this season because of our rebrand and new ballpark launch. I’ll be curious how [ToneDen] works next season. If my fans don’t change their habits, I hope we have a whole sector of people that rely on seeing our presence in the social media space and continue to consistently purchase tickets through this platform.”
Johnson would recommend ToneDen to others in the sports industry, “based on the cost-effectiveness … You have to remember that in so many cases we are selling tickets for around $18 per seat. Traditional media requires a high volume of ticket sales to break even, much more depending on your preferred ROI. The way ToneDen works, most teams can garner a fairly decent return.”
So while Johnson stays humble about the Aviators’ recent success (the stadium, the rebrand), he’s also confident in ToneDen’s utility. “I do believe the platform can work for everyone.”