Data analytics is going to be key ingredient for the future of sponsorship at events and will revolutionise how sponsors will target brands, and Fish Technologies aim to be at the forefront of it. We recently spoke to Mike Gilvar the founder of Fish Technologies who was over in Dublin to announce their partnership with innovative Irish event management company EventEase.

How, did you get started?

So, I own a company with my brother and my brother in law called the Trade Group in Dallas and we’ve got a hundred and forty employees, I think in that business. So, I started at business with my brother when I was twenty one and to keep from killing one another we had very segmented in roles in the company and I was working on the creative side of the business doing the design, managing design and graphics and strategic marketing.


So, anyway, we initially created Fish, a product that was intended for trade shows to basically integrate with lead retrieval and help trade show exhibitors rank and categorize leads based on exhibitors or attendees propensity to buy. Long story short is we ended up doing something with RFID, a project for a security conference and we ended up winning in the best in show award at that conference and somehow or another the army found us through a Google Search and we ended up winning a three million dollar contract with the U.S Army.  

We do all their data correction around consumer events and that was back in 2007 and then by 2010, ninety percent of our business was coming from two clients in the business-to-consumer experiential space. So that time, we decided to get out of trade shows and focus entirely on the experiential events.  

Technologies have change since then, when you started off RFID was big, you have moved into other areas as well?

Yeah, I mean certainly, we’re doing things now with BLE, the Bluetooth Low Energy, and to a large degree we’re doing a lot of stuff now with integrating with mobile. Pushing a QR code to other people’s mobile app, and using that QR code basically as the interactive mechanic to allow the consumer to collect content and share details.

Does that work in Facebook, Linked and Twitter?

Yeah, we have done a lot of work and we are the first in the United States to embed a Facebook token with an RFID mechanic, so we’ve been doing that since 2007.  We did a lot of work with Smirnoff.  They had a project here in Ireland called the Battle of the Corps. We worked with them that back in 2008. Then they launched Battle of the Clubs here in Ireland and in Germany. They did the Battle of the Clubs and that was all geared around Facebook and in the Facebook token.

And I guess, with the QR codes crosses comes down and give more plans and easy you?

Yeah, you know, the RFID for the massive events like NFL Super bowl where they distributed, you know a half million RFID mechanics.  It’s very expensive even if they’re only fifty cents each. The numbers are that really fast.  So, you know what where doing a lot and most of our customers now have gone mobile.  


And then embracing the digital fan mechanic versus but those who is really for the larger advance whether two hundred fifty ,three hundred fifty thousand people and a lot of the smaller advance are on the brand side that are ten thousand people, fifteen thousand people, those are still with the RFID as the mechanic.

That’s good because I know that when I go to an event right now, I’d get an order through Eventbrite scan and bar code and QR code goes through and if I am linked in with my social media accounts it tells people what I’m doing and also if I am at an event and go to the restaurant area and scan in to get discounts it might then promote on my Facebook page that I ate a burger at an event.

Interviewee: Yeah

Is that how it works?

Yeah, it certainly can you know we have done a lot of events where we’re doing the auto post, the auto check in’s and those types of things.

Interviewer: Yeah

You know, certainly what we’re doing like the NFL Super bowl for instance, you know, it’s a small number of the fans ,percentage of the fans are going to and most of the brands we’re working with are not forcing associate with Facebook or anyone. So typically when you give a consumer the choice of associating Facebook, associating your e-mail or your mobile phone, you’re going to get somewhere between three percent and fifteen percent to authorise Facebook.

fish nfl

And you know, a lot of what we’re doing now is not necessarily forcing the Facebook thing but actually, just making the content so cool that people want to share it. And when they get home, they can share it and we can track.  To us, the value of the Facebook authorisation is really in our ability to measure, being able to reach in to your Facebook profile and know more about you in terms of how many friends you have, what brands you like and being able to measure things through that token versus I think a lot of folks out there thinks that it’s all about the amplification and being able to broadcast messages to  all your friends  There is certainly, value there but we get more excited about the measurement aspect to that.

So if you see on Facebook that somebody else is following Smirnoff or Jim Beam Whiskey. Do you then decide that you can target that product towards them?

Yeah, you certainly can and we’re not a social media company. So in terms of the targeting that’s not what we do.  We simply are a data company measurement company. So, we can use that pipe to basically, as long as we asked for permission and when you accept, we basically have the ability to measure everything that goes in, as well as being in a track all of the comments.

So, if we post a photo on line, if you’d doing something in that event and we post that to your wall, we can measure and track all of the comments and we can start to garner a really good indication in terms of brand sentiments. So, we can work at was the comment about the brand, was it about a product of that brand, was it positive, was it negative, was it about the event and again just trying to get a brand sentiment analysis that’s specific to that particular event 

So you can then more or less tell your client basically people that saw your brand, this is what they perceive your brand is and you can tell them I’d advise you to change this and that about your brand.

Yeah, absolutely.

That’s kind of interesting because normally in the past when you go to an event, you fill a form and then you get asked on a scale of one to ten, how do you like this event, how do you like this brand and then to go and collate that data can be a chore if it’s a big event. Where if you do it online you can map it using technology and it makes it a lot simpler. They can see within minutes what’s happening and get real time update of what people are saying which can be handy for them because once they get that in their hands they will know that this guy likes the event but he feels the speeches too long or they felt the price wasn’t right or something else and you can go ahead and fix that more or less right away which is just kind of handy.

Absolutely, and a lot of the events that we’re giving are multi sponsor events. So with the NFL, there will be thirty brand partners. So we have the ability to measure engagement across the entire foot prints.  So we know, if Neil goes to the event we know all of the different brands that Neil engages and we know how much time he spent. We can measure dwell time and understand how much time he’s spent in each of those different activation as well through BLE we can message him with bespoke messages based on what we know he’s interested in.

So you can then tell which clients are the best at an event and which NFL partners actually got the most engagement which got the less engagement, you can check that as well?

Absolutely, and it’s segmented analysis. So, not only are we able to understand where it was busy, we also have the ability to understand why it was busy. So, we do that through been able to index all of the dimension around an activation footprint.  So, what’s the footprints size, how many staff are on site, what’s the promotion, what’s the value of the promotion, what’s the experience, is it a digital experience, is it a photo experience, is it a physical game and then been able to really help the organizer, position themselves as a strategic partner. And being able to help the brands understand what experiential elements will selectively attract and engage their specific chart demo-graph.

Well also you can tell if for example you have thirty clients, you can tell them when was their best peak times, and if they did badly at a certain time type it’s not their fault because another product was suited for that moment in time, you guys weren’t but in another moment in time you got more traction.

Absolutely and that’s really what it’s all about.  And this is how, you know, the NFL use to do their events.  They would collect a little bit of data that was their ticketing data, and then all the brands would correct their own data. They have no insight.  The problem with that is if GMC’s says to NFL It’s a crap event, we’re not getting any value from this event. What would you do? You say we will give you a bigger footprint. We’ll give you a discount.


 You’ll do all these things to sweeten the pot versus the model, where the NFL controls the data ecosystem.


So now they know everything that’s going on and every brand partner activation. Now, they have the ability to say actually, it was a great event and here is why, here is how many people you engaged, here’s how many people in the case of GMC.  They know how many people are hand raisers and hot leads who said I’m interested in having a dealership contact me, or you’re right, it wasn’t the great event for you and here’s the things that you should have done that were attracting your target demographic.

Fish Quote

So, that’s kind of what we do.  We create a registration platform that allows us, to associate that with a QR code or an RFID wrist band and it doesn’t really matter from our stand point. We’re creating an environment where the fan can register one time and then use that mechanic to engage with all the different parts. 

Well, that’s kind of interesting because in the past, when you were at an event and someone was sponsoring you might see if someone scored a touchdown or a goal maybe a sponsor coming up above that and nothing much else, and when you leave you might get a leaflet saying this was sponsored by GMC or Pepsi that’s it.


And you couldn’t actually track where there was going or if it was getting you any positive feedback but at least with you guys, you’re going to tell them where the leads are coming from.

Sure, absolutely, yeah.

So your idea is you don’t change and you can tell them, we can’t change some of the demographics but we can show you the ones that you are going to do well and stick with that.

Yeah. I agree and the other too that I think is interesting is looking at what is activatable. You know, I mean to a large degree, if you were to deploy our technology in a venue like Croke Park.


Everybody is leaving the park and they’re all going to a bar. There’s an opportunity for a venue owner to activate the bar. To actually, get a brand to own that bar after a game and to monetise that with technology. People come in, they scan their mechanic, they engage brand ambassadors and it extends what can be monetised from a venue perspective outside of the stadium.

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