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How Goal’s app redesign used Opta data to drive time spent on the platform

Duncan Worth, SVP of product and technology at Footballco, reflects on how the development of digital soccer publisher Goal's new app came together in time for last year's Fifa World Cup.

21 April 2023 Duncan Worth


Prior to the 2022 Fifa World Cup, Goal, the world’s biggest digital soccer media brand, launched its new app with a focus on personalised news and data, powered by Opta.

The new app followed Footballco’s investment in redesigning Goal’s web-based user experience to better represent the modern fan’s needs from a digital soccer publisher and platform. Footballco’s senior vice president of product and technology, Duncan Worth, discusses the development of the new Goal app.

What’s new in the app?

The biggest visual change is the modernised design language, which was already present on Goal’s website but at the time was yet to come to mobile apps. We also introduced an improved front page design that features high-impact story cards to give the biggest stories the visual attention they deserve.

In terms of functionality, the biggest addition is the personalised feeds that enable fans to follow the news about their favourite clubs and players. This was important to ensure the app experience aligned with Goal’s larger player-led strategy which captures the modern fan’s fascination with star players even at clubs they do not support.

New to the Goal app, fans can now personalise their experience by choosing their favourite clubs, players and competitions to follow, all of which sit in their ‘my feed’, which appears at the bottom of the app alongside the ‘match’ menu and ‘trending’ – home to the non-personalised content found on Goal’s website.

What was the development timeframe?

We were measured with our rollout, releasing small increments and acting on user feedback. The new Goal app has a fresh design, is built on a brand new tech stack and has new features including personalised news and sports data. This means we couldn’t just launch straight into the World Cup, we needed to ensure the platform was stable, and the proposition hit the mark with soccer fans.

This process began in August last year with a phased release, pushed to one per cent of Goal’s more than 1.5 million monthly mobile app users.

The new Goal app was rolled out in time for the 2022 Fifa World Cup

How were fans involved?

Across Footballco we have a fan-first approach to all we do, we are also fortunate with Goal that our fans are both very vocal and keen to be involved in our work. I guess you wouldn’t expect anything less from soccer fans.

Over this period we received close to 1,000 responses from fans on what they both did and didn’t like about the new app.

Unsurprisingly, the focus on allowing fans to create their own personalised experience was a popular choice.

But what was interesting was almost learned by accident. As the process was incremental, certain parts of the experience that fans were used to in either the previous version of the Goal app or the web experience were yet to be added. As such, one of the major themes we received in feedback was on the lack, at that time, of data.

How is data used across Goal by fans?

The data found on Goal is provided by Opta, rich and insightful statistics from Stats Perform that give us everything from vital fixture information and live scores to the more detailed analysis of team and player performance – each of which plays a different but key role in the user experience.

We always knew our fans found this data important, but the feedback we got from when we were yet to reincorporate that side of the app proved to what degree.

It also helped to inform the placement of data content cards, with the previous and next match of the user’s favourite team displayed at the top of their personalised feed.

Going deeper, fans can tap into a wealth of information on their favourite players, teams and competitions, whether it’s Mbappe’s current shots on target stats or the average number of corners Chelsea have won this season. That is very important for betting fans, particularly with the rising global popularity of player-focused – rather than team-focused – bets, which are dependent on Opta data to be settled by operators. This means bettors see the same Opta stats on the Goal app that they see on TV and when betting – a critical factor for a fan who is never just in one place.

Opta’s depth of coverage is also important for offering that level of personalisation and for increasing the time fans spend on the Goal app, offering them a soccer rabbit hole they can dive deeper and deeper into.

How did this all come together for the World Cup?

During the World Cup the tournament featured prominently on the Goal app. The biggest matches were featured on the trending screen and users could personalise their World Cup experience in their own feed, following both their own team and the players and teams they’re interested in the most – a need which Opta’s data continues to help respond to perfectly post-World Cup.

At the same time as the World Cup, we launched the 2022 Goal50 awards, an annual fan vote for the best male and female players in the world, which this year also includes a World Cup legends poll.

In total, 12 million votes were cast for the 2022 Goal50, which saw Lionel Messi and Alexia Putellas crowned the men’s and women’s winners, respectively, and Diego Maradona named the best player to ever play at a World Cup in the one-off World Cup Wonders vote. Of those 12 million votes, more than four million came through the Goal mobile app.

As well as ensuring the Goal app was ready for the World Cup, it was imperative that it was live for Goal50 too.

The new Goal app now allows us to include experiences, such as Goal50, that both brands and fans want to be involved with, and access them directly from the app’s main navigation.

Now, whether fans are on the Goal website or mobile app, they can cast their votes as well as view in-depth data on all the players in contention for Goal50 and our other fan-led content thanks to the data from Opta.

How is the app performing now?

We’ve seen increases across the board, with more uses being added every month and user reviews on the app stores higher now than what they were before.

Most importantly, we’ve seen time on the app surge to almost five times what it was before, proving that fans are finding more content to engage with, whether that’s written content, video or data.

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