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“There is huge potential in digital business for smaller clubs”

In this interview, Sam Grimley, Global Head of Sales & Account Management of our new FBIN Network member Horizm talks about the growth of the company, their offers, goals and how smaller clubs can use their potential in digital business.

Horizm became a leading solution for football clubs of all sizes within just 3 years. First, what are you offering that clubs of different sizes need?

Horizm was born from the realisation that there was a huge digital opportunity in sport that was not being capitalised on. Our founders saw from their experiences working for the likes of FC Barcelona, Hitachi and the International Volleyball Federation (FIVB), that rights holders lacked the tools to accurately value and package their digital inventory in a way that was meaningful for brands and were therefore not maximising the digital revenues they could achieve. They also saw that brands did not have an easy way to access sports inventory in a way that is flexible to their campaign needs.

Horizm’s AI-powered tools solve these problems providing teams, leagues, federations and athletes with a way to better understand the performance of their digital channels, the value bound up in them and how this value can be unlocked. 

Horizm offers the complete digital toolkit for football clubs, meaning we can support clubs of all sizes from Real Madrid to Lyngby in Denmark, whatever their needs. That means we can support their digital strategy by providing our granular-level, real-time analytics and benchmarking intelligence to inform commercial activities or we  help directly commercialize their inventory via Horizm Marketplace… or we can do both!

Sam Grimley
Global Head of Sales & Account Management
Horizm

And second, how did you manage to grow that fast and meet (and maybe exceed) the expectations of your clients?

I would say our growth is down to three things. First, there was a clear need in the market – rights holders weren’t able to accurately value what they can offer to brands through their digital channels and they didn’t have the tools to present it to brands in a way that resonates with their broader approach to digital spend.

Secondly, despite the obvious hardships it caused, COVID created the perfect conditions for the business to flourish. The pandemic accelerated the adoption of digital solutions, in many areas of life, and teams were forced to look at digital revenue opportunities to help mitigate the commercial impact of various restrictions. This meant the teams we spoke in the beginning to were more receptive to our offering and more in tune to the digital opportunity than they might have been otherwise.

Finally, it has been down to the incredible efforts of our multinational team – we have grown from 5 to almost 50 employees now spanning the UK, France, Switzerland, Spain, Portugal, India and Brazil.

Your latest development is a marketplace, can you tell us more about it?

Horizm Marketplace is our proprietary AI-powered platform that connects brands with sports fans and rights holders with new digital revenues. It is the first fully transactional marketplace in the industry, allowing football teams of all sizes to sell their digital inventory to the tool. Brands can log in and easily access, target and purchase campaigns through the inventory bringing in new revenues for the rights holders involved. 

What potential lies in digital business for smaller and medium sized clubs?

There is huge potential! Digital is not purely a tool for Europe’s elite; those clubs with 10s of millions of followers. Digital allows for a hyper targeted, more flexible approach and brands are increasingly moving in this direction, shifting campaign spend to channels/platforms they know will reach their target audience, when they need to. Football teams have intensely loyal followings, followings that are increasingly digitally native and that, particularly with smaller and medium sized clubs, have easily described geographic boundaries and so can offer clear value for brands looking to target audiences within those boundaries whilst also benefiting from the emotional connection that football creates. Our Marketplace tool further heightens the opportunity as it aggregates different audiences for brands giving them the opportunity to reach the scale they need whilst also still being hyper targeted and engaged. 

Do you also educate on that potential? Is that clear for every organisation?

More and more clubs are getting it but there is still an element of education with some. For many clubs, their digital inventory is only thought of as something that supports wider sponsorship deals and not as something which is distinct value that can be monetized in its own right.

How many football organisations are using Horizm right now and how do they use it?

We currently support over 100 different football properties spanning 26 different leagues and including three international federations. We support them in one of three ways. We provide digital analytics, valuation and benchmarking, we provide commercialization through Horizm marketplace or most commonly, we provide the complete toolkit which is a combination of both.

What are the next steps for the company?

We are looking to consolidate our position of strength in the European football market, by continuing to grow our client base here and continuing to renew the deals we already have in place (we currently have a 100% retention rate!). We are looking to develop our brand offering and expand into the US & further markets.

You recently joined our FBIN Network and will also attend the FUTURE OF FOOTBALL BUSINESS Conference in Graz in September. What do you expect from it and what can we expect from you?

We have attended two FBIN events and have been impressed each time with the networking opportunities and the ability to connect with clubs across the region. We are sure that this year’s FUTURE OF FOOTBALL BUSINESS Conference will continue to attract European clubs focused on growing their business and we hope that now, as network members, we will have an even better platform to engage with them and show them how Horizm can help them realise their digital potential!

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