A New York Sports Fan’s Desperate Plea for Personalization

A born and bred New Yorker begs eCommerce companies to understand his ennui over the two Super Bowl teams and personalize their experience accordingly.

Director of Marketing, Dynamic Yield

To put it mildly, this is a rough week to be a New Yorker. On Sunday, the First Order will take the field against the armies of Sauron when New England and Philadelphia meet in the Super Bowl.

To make matters worse, Dynamic Yield is a New York-based company that has been heavily infiltrated by Eagles and Patriots fans. Our VP of Channel showed up today in a retro Eagles hat and it is only a matter of time before our New England guy starts posting insufferable Tom Brady GOAT memes. There’s truly no escape.

Luckily, my favorite eCommerce websites understand that I’m hurting over here and have created experiences built around my favorite teams.

Not quite…..

Fanatics_hero banner

OK Fanatics really rubbed it in my face but maybe New York-based Modell’s might do something a bit more subtle.

Modell's image

Hmmmm.. not so much. Let’s try Dick’s. I’ve bought several types of outdoor gear online so they’ll take a different tactic.

Dicks_SB LII image

Womp. I understand that Super Bowl merchandise is the ultimate low-hanging fruit this week and probably the best content to show a truly unknown visitor. But there is no reason for me to be truly unknown. Before I so much as move my mouse on Modells, Dick’s or Fanatics, they know my location, traffic source and all kinds of other attributes about me collected by third-party services such as BlueKai. I’m letting myself be tracked specifically to receive a more relevant experience.

Furthermore, I shopped around at several sporting goods retailers, leaving enough digital breadcrumbs to get Hansel and Gretel halfway across the Black Forest. To try and purge the homepage hero banner of Pats-Eagles that is haunting my dreams, I frantically tried to leave signals that I’m a New Yorker.

I clicked on no less than 10 New York Jets jersey PDPS, made complicated by the fact that the 2017 Jets don’t have 10 players anyone has heard of. When that didn’t work, I tried a widget lower on the page pushing spring training gear. I added New York Yankees gear to my cart, longing for simpler times with the right-centerfield Bleacher Creatures. The Super Bowl gear continued to haunt me on the homepage and in an overlay.

I left the website in a somber mood to browse the day’s headlines. Almost immediately, I was presented with the opportunity to complement the Eagles gear I didn’t want with a nice Phillies watch that I sure as hell don’t want.


In fairness, the ad was dynamic and eventually showed Yankees and Jets gear but by then, I’d had my fill of brotherly love and was long out of the purchase funnel.

Crafting Experiences That Put Fans First

BILD Shop, the eCommerce arm of German media titan BILD, understands that the heated rivalries of the Bundesliga have been known to cause more than a few civil scuffles and spilled mugs, turning German fans against their countrymen. Just the sight of Borussia Dortmund’s iconic black and yellow stripes can trigger a palpable sickness in the gut of a Bayern supporter.

To craft a homepage designed for the superfan and continually optimize this valuable real estate, Bild A/B tested different creative variations based on the fan segment a user belonged to. Bayern Munich fans were served different images and offers featuring Bayern gear, Dortmund fans were served various Dortmund promotions and so forth.

Here is their promotion that ran right after the last Patriots Super Bowl victory (sigh). New visitors that did not belong to a 3rd party segment audience segment received a banner with Patriots gear while those with a demonstrated affinity for a team saw content for their club. Additionally, as users browsed and showed a preference for a certain team or sport, the Super Bowl promo was replaced with more relevant content.


It’s Not Just About the Game

More than 100 million Americans tune into the Super Bowl each year, more than 6X the audience of a prime-time regular season game. Tens of millions of viewers tuning in for the Super Bowl haven’t watched a single game all year and have zero affinity for either of the teams playing. However, most eCommerce websites act as though 100% of their visitors have been miraculously transformed into diehard football fans.

Even for those with no love for either team, there is plenty to look forward to. The new “Dilly-Dilly” Battle Pep Talk commercial is true mastery of the 45-second spot and has a sublime cliffhanger that will be resolved during the big game. Danny Devito is pushing M & M’s. Justin Timberlake is back in NSYNC form.

Why not try to identify audiences who have no interest in the game and promote some of the other fanfare around the Super Bowl? Or, if you can identify my sad affinity for the New York Jets, display a variation the reminds us of the good old days of Joe Namath’s guarantee.

Ultimately, New York sports will be just fine. Pitchers and catchers report in a couple of weeks and Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton are more than ready to bash the city of Boston back to mediocrity.

Until then, go Eagles, I guess.