Sponsorship, Baseball, Basketball, Football, Soccer

Opinion | Now, more than ever, the sponsorship industry must demand data

Rights holders need to get ahead of brands' demands for sophisticated, dynamic analysis of sponsorship assets, says GumGum Sports senior vice president, Dominic Zuccarini.

by Dominic Zuccarini
Opinion | Now, more than ever, the sponsorship industry must demand data

With marketing budgets tight since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, sport sponsors are casting an ever-more critical eye over where their spend is going and the return on investment. For rights holders, this will bring greater urgency for a shift that has been on the horizon for some time - the need to upgrade the quality of how sponsorship performance is evaluated.

The traditional way rights holders have issued sponsors with mid-season and end-of-season reports on campaign performance no longer meets their expectations. Increasingly, brands are demanding more regular visibility over how campaigns are performing and a more sophisticated and agile approach to analytics.

We are seeing that brands are now commissioning cutting edge analysis of their portfolios in order to make more informed decisions and justify spend. Sponsors were moving in this direction long before Covid-19, but the pandemic and lockdown has only accelerated this trend and heightened the need for rights holders to do the same or risk losing out to competitors that offer more modern, advanced analytics.

Upgrading the quality of sponsorship valuation by rights holders boils down to two main areas:

Continuous analysis and optimisation

If rights holders want to provide the most effective partnerships for their sponsors, it is crucial that they adopt technologies that allow them to regularly analyse and enhance the performance of campaigns - including signage and branded content across social, broadcast and streaming. In the current economic climate, brands' budgets are getting cut, so rights holders need higher velocity data to optimise campaigns throughout the partnership and prove the value of their sponsorship.

If a rights holder continues to only provide mid-season and end-of-season reports to its partners, it will increasingly be at a disadvantage. With near real-time analysis and the ability to capture performance across a variety of consumption channels and metrics, sports properties can ensure their sponsors’ objectives are being met and defend their share of wallet.

GumGum Sports’ sponsorship analytics platform uses artificial intelligence to analyse the impact of sponsorship assets across broadcast, social media and streaming platforms. Taken together, this means we can ingest a much bigger, more accurate data set that gives a nuanced real-time picture of what is and isn't working.

For example, we work with a group in the US which owns five sports teams. By overhauling the sophistication of its analytics, we were able to help it score an extra US$3 million in revenue – partly via bringing disparate pieces of data into one integrated platform, providing the rights holder with a much clearer sense of how its partner campaigns were performing and how to tweak the offer when necessary.

Seeing the complete picture

Using more sophisticated technology makes it easier to value elements of your sponsorship assets that may have been previously out of reach, such as value driven by athlete, league, media and other non-team-owned social media accounts. This can lead to significant expansion in a rights holder’s inventory and its revenue.

Rights holders generally focus their sponsorship analysis heavily on owned assets like shirts and broadcast rights. But what we have learned from assisting teams and brands is that it is often the non-owned assets, such as the social channels of players, fans, influencers and leagues, that can offer an ever greater value. In fact, we are seeing that up to 81 per cent of digital channel sponsorship value can come from these assets. This is a tremendous amount of value that teams could be reporting back to sponsors, but it is going unnoticed, because traditional technologies are unable to capture this full picture.

Rights holders should be prioritising holistic analysis of sponsorships across broadcast, social media and even streaming, as well as how they interact, allowing you to experiment with tweaking broadcast content to maximise social profile.

Another opportunity for rights holders is to use advanced analytics to explore and identify new types of sponsorship assets that can be offered to partners. For example, using white space analysis, GumGum Sports was able to determine the sponsor media value (SMV) of branded seat coverings within English Premier League (EPL) football stadiums. Through broadcast analysis of the Manchester City v Liverpool game on 2nd July, we discovered that the new seat coverings generated UK£1.8 million (US$2.28 million) in SMV, driven by several changes in camera angles and game play that boosted the value delivered back to partners.

We all hope that the next few months will see a resurgence in professional sports. But it is clear that sponsors will only become more demanding in their desire for dynamic insight on how each part of their sponsorship portfolio is performing. Will you be able to give it to them?