Speaking at today's Media Guardian Changing Advertising Summit on data and consumer profiling, Ayers claimed his club was catching up to rivals such as Manchester United and Chelsea, by building up its use of loyalty and digital channels.
Ayers said football clubs and other sporting institutions in general needed to cater not just for people who turned up to the stadium, but also do a better job of connecting with their wider fanbase.
He somewhat shamefacedly revealed Manchester City had installed the CRM application Salesforce only this year, quipping that doing things like this made the club "a one-eyed man in the land of the blind", although he praised Chelsea for "doing some interesting things".
Providing an update on his club's progress in engaging with fans, he ran through some numbers – 45,000 stadium capacity, 70,000 people with membership cards, nearly 100,000 followers on Twitter and one million Facebook fans.
He said: "Our fundamental strategy is giving them access to the club, giving them behind-the-scenes footage and getting them closer to that [match day] experience."
The effort to engage fans included rejecting the idea of offering advertisers the chance to reach them online, and City's commercial strategy was purely about brand partnerships, according to Ayers.
He said: "The revenue we would gain from advertising is comparatively miniscule compared with what we get in sponsorship. What we do that is interesting, is it's about gaining that reach.
"We're getting more and more brands as partners, not sponsors. EA is a great example. EA has relationships with six of the Premier League clubs, maybe overseas as well, but they only have one partnership like the one they have with us, which is a content-based partnership."
The membership cards were introduced this summer and act as a loyalty card as well as a gateway to enhanced content and experiences on the club's website.
Ayers did not directly answer a question about what City does with the data it collects via the cards, but claimed City was encouraging more and more of the other clubs to share their data.
This was important, he said, "because in the UK, the chances of persuading someone who supports Chelsea to support City are slim. However, overseas is kind of interesting because quite often they support two or three clubs".
Ayers was speaking on a panel on the theme of data and customer profiling along with: Jenny Ashmore, global marketing capability officer at FMCG company Mars; Eric Bader, president G14 and chief strategy officer worldwide at media agency Initiative; and Sam Tomlinson, director, assurance, at accountancy firm PriceWaterhouseCoopers.
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