Setting Up for Success
Sports sponsorship is about to enter an exciting new era and finally realise its potential as one of the best marketing platforms for brands to engage with highly-engaged audiences.
Sports rights-holders already have multiple channels through which they can deliver authentic physical and digital campaigns for brands, putting them a step ahead of traditional media investment. By properly integrating digital into their sponsorship proposition – and recognising the value sponsorship is delivering using sophisticated, but simple-to-digest, evaluation metrics – rights-holders will drive a growth in brand spend to the tune of 6% on average from 2020 to hit £48bn (€56bn) by 2024.
As Phil says, we know change is already happening, with progressive rights-holders creating innovative packages and attracting new kinds of brands born in the digital era.
We’ve been fortunate to work with a number of them – all major international rights-holders – and some have kindly shared the results of their new sponsorship set-ups in case studies across our website.
These progressives demonstrate one or more of the following key principles to building a sponsorship proposition fit for 2019 and beyond:
1) Bespoke Inventory Packaging
Editorial teams at rights-holders have greater capabilities than ever to create engaging content for their media platforms. However, with owned and third-party platforms reaching into the double figures, the volume of content a rights-holder can produce is vast, at a time when audience attention spans are decreasing.
Badging content with a sponsor logo and then distributing on every channel is no longer the way to deliver the best brand value. Rights-holders have to get clever and creative, mixing and matching their inventory to align with the situation, creating new assets where needed to meet brand requirements rather than relying on a one-size-fits-all approach.
Rights-holders therefore need to understand the value of their digital inventory, and how to manage it for each sponsor. Those who do will be able to create a flexible suite of engaging and innovative sponsorship assets, for which they can create marketing campaigns that deliver for each brand partner.
2) Output-Driven Valuation
The value of a sponsorship has, traditionally, been calculated from an estimated media value delivered to a brand by broadcast exposure, or by benchmarking price against rights-holders of similar size and footprint.
Rights-holders now have the tools themselves to more accurately quantify the value of their digital inventory. Digital channel data enables a rights-holder to be far more accurate in reporting the engagement levels being reached with their target audiences, and can be supported by a data evaluation of how that engagement is shifting brand awareness, purchase consideration or sales. This calculates a true impact value and therefore gives less wiggle-room for a brand to negotiate on price.
This data-driven approach enables a rights-holder to have a much stronger partnership and will open the door to more brands who know they won’t simply be being sold the dream of sports sponsorship, but the reality of a marketing proposition that will achieve objectives and demonstrate ROI.
3) Audience-Led Activation
Impactful sponsorship activations are the result of great content delivered on the right combination of channels. This happens most successfully when data is used to understand the target audience and identify how to reach them in the most effective way.
It’s not good enough for digital editors to wait for a PDF report, two weeks after content has gone out, to understand whether they have seized the opportunity for brand partners.
The right technology enables an editorial team to predict how much an audience will engage on a media channel, create content that can be optimised in real-time to maximise engagement, and measure how that engagement translates to the impact on an audience in accordance with a brand’s specific marketing objectives.
Through data-driven activation via the relevant physical and digital channels – both owned and third-party – rights-holders can become their own real-time content distribution powerhouse that catches the eye of target consumers.
4) Real-Time Measurement
Sports sponsorship has relied for far too long on the ‘feel good factor’ and assumptions of positive association, supported by facts and figures from the analogue age. Brands are no longer happy to receive an image-heavy presentation that showcases the performance of the team on the pitch – they are doing their own research, investing in their own methodology, and challenging rights-holders who don’t align with their need to demonstrate return.
With the rise of digital media, detailed performance metrics are available at the touch of a button to rights-holders. Those that will thrive will have sophisticated evaluation methods, real-time reporting tools and KPIs that not only demonstrate a positive outcome aligned with brand objectives, but can be used to monitor, adapt and optimise the delivery of campaigns across all channels.
Whether a brand’s objectives are to increase conversion or change perception, the onus is on the rights-holder to show this is being delivered, supporting the creation of true partnerships with mutual benefits for those involved.