NYC Marathon Enhances Experience with Social/Mobile

My brother is one of the 47,000 people from across the world running this Sunday’s ING NYC Marathon. In order to track his progress, I purchased the event’s TrackMyRunners service, which is offered via both mobile and social platforms.

The service is a great example of a high “utility value” feature that leverages technology not for technology’s sake but rather to deliver benefits by meeting users’ needs.

I paid $2.99 (cost increases to $3.99 for race-day registration), and for that I am able to track up to three runners on my mobile phone.  As a bonus, I can track one runner via Facebook and thre other runners via Twitter. During the Marathon, I will receive alerts on my mobile phone and/or social platforms as the runners I select cross the 10K, 20K, half, 30K, 40K, and finish.

This offers excellent utility value because there are many people that want to keep up with their runners, a point reinforced by the fact that people are willing to pay for this realtime data. This service is offered not just to the spectators at the event but to anyone.

There is one execution point that should be noted by those of you that organize shows in the U.S. with international audiences. Due to technical issues regarding SMS, the texting option is only available to U.S. mobile subscribers. However, people in other countries can take advantage of the Facebook and Twitter options.

As you seek new ways to leverage the latest technologies to engage your communities, focus on offering utility value as the marathon is doing here rather than just cool “bells and whistles."

Cristopher Levy is managing partner of Encore Media Partners. Encore is an audience strategy, marketing and media buying agency covering traditional, digital and mobile platforms,which specializes in local, national and global trade and consumer shows, exhibitions and conferences. Reach him at