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More than 120 new ideas hatched for first ESPN Ad Innovation Hackathon

The digital advertising marketplace is more competitive than ever, making unique and memorable ad experiences incredibly important. Following the success of three previous product-focused hackathons, ESPN’s Digital + Print Media and Ad Sales teams introduced the first “Ad Innovation Hackathon,” an internal competition dedicated to bringing people from across the company together to develop the next generation of cutting-edge ad formats.

While the organizers anticipated approximately 50 applications, more than 120 brand new ideas were submitted from ESPN offices worldwide. The list of ideas was trimmed down to 15. Assigned teams had 24 hours to turn their concepts into reality and develop a compelling pitch.

All of this activity culminated on April 24 at the New York Institute of Technology, where each group had three minutes to present the finished concept and impress six judges and a crowd of 250 ESPN employees.

The GameCast “GameBreak” team, consisting of Christian Cox, Krystian Krycinski, Jeremy Weinrib, James McGovern, Marc Rowley, Grant Gill, Kyle Sorice, Mike Colella, Kevin Joyce and captain Brian Doyle, took first-place honors.

As described in Variety, “‘GameBreak’ [is] a video ad unit built around highlight footage for the popular [ESPN] online GameCast service that lets fans follow sporting events that aren’t available to watch on TV or online.”

The first-place prize: a trip to the BCS Championship Game and an inclusion in the recent ESPN Upfront. Second and third place went to the “Alerts” and “Follow Me” teams, respectively. Those team members received Apple TVs.

ESPN plans to unveil “GameBreak” and “Alerts,” which sends targeted ads for each notification that is delivered to ESPN applications on the Android platform, soon.

“It was rewarding to work with such a brilliant team and to see colleagues from all over the company come together and contribute with big ideas,” said Doyle, ESPN’s Senior Director of Mobile Sales and Strategy Development.

“This event showcased our outstanding talent, innovative thinking and camaraderie between departments.”

Video produced by Tonya Malinowski

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