How 21st Century Marketing Works

Harness racing fans will be marketed in new ways.

by Dean Towers

Over the years, we’ve all heard the lament that harness racing hasn’t commercialized itself enough. There are no newspaper advertisements, no billboards; direct mail campaigns do not exist. And of course, with the Internet, there are no banner ads. It’s as if the sport was in a vacuum.

I tend to agree with some of the complaints. As Google’s trend charts show, the sport is swimming upstream: overall interest in harness racing is half what it was 17 years ago. A lack of attention to these issues has a consequence.

How do companies or verticals deal with a declining or stagnant customer base in 2022? Marketing is marketing, but today the products and media are very different from five years ago. In fact, some are quite breathtaking.

Imagine a man in his thirties who, at some point in the past, searched for sports scores or sports betting products. He’s at home watching an on-demand network show or live TV on his Roku or Android box while lounging on his couch. At the commercial break, he was one of two or three people in his entire neighborhood who ran a commercial about harness racing.

“I’ve never seen one before,” he says.

Later that day, he decides to go for a drive; it’s sunny and he’s bored. He lowers his eyes and seeing that it is almost empty, he stops to refuel. While pumping his $4 a gallon liquid gold, he hears a voice and glances up to see another harness racing ad on the pump’s video screen.

“It’s weird, I just saw one,” he said.

After filling up, he notices an ice cream shop across the street, and since it’s such a beautiful day, he decides to indulge in a rocky road double ball. While savoring his treat, he surfs the New York Times website to keep up with the news, and now he gets another advertisement for harness racing. This static banner – like the ones you and I have seen a million times – lets him know that the first post in the Meadowlands is in an hour.

“It’s only a mile away and I haven’t been there in years. Why not go there? he thinks.

If this sounds like a Philip K. Dick novel, it isn’t. This marketing is happening right now. A person is targeted via an audience based on their behavior, an advertisement is presented to them via their targeted location, then from that IP address they can be targeted again via remarketing to their mobile phone, wherever they are find.

What’s perhaps even more interesting about this media is that our friend who ended up going to the track can be targeted again, whenever the weather is good and he’s near the Meadowlands (or any other racetrack for that matter). And, our machine can analyze our targeted user and based on their characteristics and behavior, target new users who look like them.

The world has certainly changed, and marketing with it. A newspaper advertisement in 1990 was broadcast to everyone; a TV ad during the Nightly News hopefully reached someone you wanted.

Now marketers can show you ads come rain, shine or snow, thanks to a weather API; to people around stores, stadiums or racetracks with geo-fencing. And they can target audiences that are more likely to visit their store, buy their product, or visit their event with incredible behavior-based accuracy.

It might sound like science fiction, and it might be a little scary. But it’s easier than ever to find potential harness racing fans and bettors and market them. Old marketing mediums and tactics are about to become history.