Investment, Sponsorship, Global

How Nielsen Fan Insights is hoping to change the game in sports marketing investment

Following the recent launch of the global measurement and data analytics company's new platform, Mike Wragg, Nielsen Sports’ global head of research, explains why it is filling a need for the sports industry.

by SportsPro
How Nielsen Fan Insights is hoping to change the game in sports marketing investment

Global measurement and data analytics company Nielsen recently launched a new online platform promising sports industry stakeholders a comprehensive view of what makes fans tick.

The Nielsen Fan Insights product provides extensive data on the interests, media consumption behaviours, brand attitudes and purchasing habits of fans around the world, with the key markets covered at launch and more to be added before the end of the year and into 2020.

The platform is Nielsen’s response to what it sees as the growing need of sports property owners, brands and event organisers for more in-depth data to help guide investment decisions and determine return on investment (ROI). It promises to do this by leveraging Nielsen’s trusted datasets from Homescan, which covers the household consumer sector; Scarborough, a US market consumer survey that tracks consumption; Winning Brands, a sponsorship activation tracker; and a new monthly international sports study, the Nielsen Global Fan Survey.

To discover more about the platform, SportsPro posed some questions to Mike Wragg, Nielsen Sports’ global head of research.

Why is Nielsen Fan Insights necessary for the sports industry in 2019?

The sports industry is becoming more and more global, and major investment decisions are increasingly based on hard evidence. It's therefore become crucial that those making these investments - rights holders, sponsor brands and media companies - have a single, robust, granular source for understanding sports fan populations in all substantial sports markets across the world.

Who is going to be using this tool?

The tool will be used by people investing in the global sports industry, especially those responsible for developing plans for investment in sponsorship rights, media rights and major events. The platform is designed for both buyers and sellers of these rights, and those who manage the investments once they've been made.

Where is this data from, how was this data collected and how deep does it go?

The data is sourced from a combination of continuous large scale quantitative research around the world, which Nielsen conducts specifically to understand sports fans, and the brand equity of major sponsor brands; and also other key sources of consumer behaviour - for example the huge panel of households in the US where Nielsen captures all household purchases across all consumer packaged goods categories. Combining these gives a really granular understanding of fans down to which sports, leagues and teams they support, what they watch and follow across all media, and what they actually buy.

For example, a major Chinese brand seeking to build consideration amongst a specific demographic target across the world can understand the extent to which all major sports properties are relevant and engaging for that target, and use this knowledge to select the platforms which offer the best return on its marketing investment. Similarly, a sports team can see clearly which brands will gain most from a partnership with them and use this data to build a powerful sales argument demonstrating this value to potential sponsors.

What were some unexpected findings in the data?

Nielsen Sports has been working with this data with more than 1,500 clients across the sports world for decades, so the unexpected findings are more about how a platform like this can really speed up the process of crunching millions of data points to find the best return on investment solutions, and best sales prospects, in the industry. Processes which took weeks can now happen in a few hours, which is super important given the sharp increase in demand for strong evidence underpinning investments in our industry.

At what stage of the decision-making process is Nielsen Fan Insights designed for?

Nielsen Fan Insights is crucial at all stages in the investment cycle. From the early development of investment strategy, planning and prospect identification, all the way through to understanding the ROI of activation and building the case for retaining partners. We have designed the platform specifically to support each stage of the process.

How broad was the new fan survey?

The data in Nielsen Fan Insights comes from multiple sources, not just one survey. But the scope includes all major professional sports properties and events across the world, and more than 150 sponsor brands in each country. This scope widens every month as we include more and more brands and focus on new events and sports formats. We are also maintaining our policy of proactively including women's professional sport formats wherever possible, so these can be easily discovered by brands looking for new partners.

What sets this platform apart from rivals on the market?

Nielsen marketing data has been a currency trusted by brands across the world since the 1930s, and we remain as passionate as ever in ensuring a robust and fully independent view which investors can rely on. Of course, it's crucial that organisations hoping to sell to brands have access to the same trusted data to frame their pitch. We've also understood the importance to our clients of an online tool which interfaces directly with their decision-making processes - so this platform has been built from the bottom up by people who work with this data to make sports marketing investment decisions all day every day. As a result, there are lots of smart features that surface the most useful facts quickly, even for users with no technical research background.