A green sitting in front of a large body of water.

USGA’s Amanda Weiner on delivering Personalized Fan Experiences with AI and Automation

The sports media landscape is undergoing a dramatic evolution. Instead of actively seeking out specific content, today’s audiences crave personalized content experiences tailored to their unique interests and consumption habits, delivered on their preferred platform and devices of choice.

To meet these demands, sports organizations must adopt a forward-leaning approach, centered around proactive engagement, data-driven insights, and personalization. 

But understanding these strategies is only half the challenge. As trends ebb and flow, using emerging technology to capitalize on timely momentum is equally as important.

Few have executed this playbook better than Amanda Weiner, the Managing Director of Digital Media and Ticketing for the United States Golf Association (USGA).

When a former colleague extended an offer to spearhead the USGA’s digital department in 2011, Amanda leapt at the opportunity. Beginning with a team of two and a single social channel – Facebook, the USGA digital department has since expanded, pioneering a robust cross-platform content strategy. By 2020, Amanda took over the USGA ticketing team as well, leading the migration from paper to mobile tickets, while unlocking a plethora of new fan engagement opportunities.

This wasn’t always the case. Until 2015, the USGA didn’t allow mobile devices onto the golf course out of respect for the players. But, under Amanda’s leadership, the USGA has charged confidently toward the future, while upholding the game’s most sacred traditions.

While once deferring to a more passive digital approach to fan engagement, the USGA has since shifted to a more proactive approach. Reshaped partially by the COVID-induced surge of popularity, the demographics of golf fans have become exceedingly diverse, spanning ages, interests, and preferences.

“We used to sit back and let fans find the website and app themselves. Now, we lean in to directly target these fans with push notifications, stronger email campaigns, and our Victory Club,” she said. “We now have hundreds of thousands of fans who have joined our free membership to explicitly receive more content from us, so we’ve had to develop our products to meet those needs.”

But delivering personalized content at scale is no easy task. It requires not only speed to action but the infrastructure and workflow to create and distribute exactly what fans are looking for at the perfect moment.

For the USGA, WSC Sports has been a big piece of that puzzle.

The global leader in AI-powered sports content, WSC Sports helps global sports organizations like the NBA, NHL, and YouTube TV quickly generate personalized sports content, while increasing their reach and providing new monetization opportunities. Since its inception, WSC Sports has grown its current roster to over 430 organizations that use its AI platform to instantly create automated video highlights responsible for reaching billions of fans.

Since partnering with WSC Sports in 2019, the team has gone from using a production truck responsible for manually clipping highlights to an automated experience designed to streamline operations, increasing content output across all third-party social channels and owned and operated platforms.

“We used to have a huge operational cost of a trailer where twelve people would manually clip content. Now our digital, social, and content teams all use the platform to quickly assign ratings and create and distribute content,” she said. “You don’t have to be an expert in CMS or graphic engines to use the platform.”

With less time required to produce and distribute content, the team can focus on using the highlights most effectively, analyzing data and engagement metrics to double down on personalization across different fan segments.

“If fans have favorited Rory McIlroy, we’re thinking about how we can deliver Rory content all day, every day to that user. I’ve become married to the data, where we don’t make a decision unless it’s backed by data,” Weiner said.

This approach has been carried across all content types produced by WSC Sports, ranging from scorecard highlights across the entire championship schedule to Stories via the Google OneBox, where fans are automatically served highlight packs based on their search intent. From there, they are directed back to the USGA’s owned and operated platforms.

As for what the future holds, Amanda is especially excited about the personalization opportunities around in-app vertical stories (a new offering from WSC Sports), and single sign-on.

“During the signup flow, a fan can tell us their favorite players and we can feed them a curated stories feed of players they truly want to see, along with ones they may enjoy, but not be aware of,” she said. “With Stories, we’re thinking about merging the world of automated highlights with the content on our social channels, creating a rich experience for the millions of people who are consuming our content.”