Measuring Key Sports Sponsorship Metrics

Record growth in views and fan engagement led to record sponsorship investments. However, brands need to measure ROI. So what sponsorship analytics metrics should be tracked? Top Tier Key Metrics: Impressions, sponsor recall, demographics, Brand Lift and Brand Health metrics, competitor analysis, and sales metrics. Learn more about each of these levels in this article.

The sports sponsorship industry is expected to grow at an accelerating pace, with over $500 billion in estimated investment in 2022 and a compound annual growth rate of over 41%. Interestingly, about 80% of these investments were used for acquisition of television and digital broadcasting rights.

While we have emerged from a global pandemic, some people facing the economic and political fallout from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine may say that such investment and growth in sports sponsorship is excessive and unlikely.

Based on data from Nielsen, the world leader in sponsorship and fan analytics, we can highlight the following indicators:

  • 40.7% of sports fans worldwide are now streaming sports via digital platforms thanks to the spread of connected devices
  • 39.4% of fans worldwide will watch indirect content related to a live sporting event
  • Watching sports events has become multi-windowed: 47% of people who watch sporting events simultaneously interact with other live content 
  • Increasing of the women’s sports sponsorship: Sponsorship investment in women’s sports increased by 146% year-on-year, up from 27% in 2020
  • A 778% increase in sports sponsorship from blockchain and NFT-related companies is predicted, as well as huge investment from social media giants like TikTok
  • Esports is also experiencing significant growth, with 2,254 publicly announced esports sponsorship deals globally in 2021, up from 1,785 in 2020, making it one of the fastest growing segments
  • Over the past year, female esports fans have also increased by 19%, faster than male esports fans, which have grown by 12%.

This means there are more fans, in more sports and in more diversity than ever before, giving brands the opportunity to engage and interact with customers more than ever before. The new Digital Overlay technology also allows ads to be localized by region, allowing venues, events and teams to expand sponsorship.

However, companies do not invest blindly. They want to be sure that their investment has brought a solid return. However, this is one of the most challenging areas for sponsors, as tools for measuring the ROI of sports sponsorship have been developing slowly over decades. Reporting gaps are very noticeable when looking at key metrics that brands can accurately measure, such as web analytics and ad analytics. These include the exact number of impressions, cost per 1,000 impressions, cost per click, share of votes, first touch point, subsequent touch points, and final purchase.

For a number of reasons, there is no such single portal or integrated approach in the field of sponsorship analysis and evaluation, leading to problems that in other areas could be called catastrophic. In fact, studies show that the average miscalculation of ROI (return on investment) is 68%, and up to 88% of sponsored projects are ineffective. This means that brands overspend their sponsorship investment, but could get the same return for much less. However, in practice, these brands would not be able to cut their costs even if they found ways to improve the efficiency of their sponsorship investments. Instead, they will either spend the same amount on more diverse sports or invest in more competitions in the same sport. Either way, it will benefit both them and the teams/places/events/broadcasts they support.

So what metrics should brands be looking at? These indicators can be divided into two main areas. First, they are indicators that can be used to measure sponsorship effectiveness. In other words, we sponsored this team/event/league and saw an increase in sales of X%. Other indicators relate to the effectiveness of sponsorship. They help determine whether the budget was used correctly to increase sales, or if the same results could have been achieved with less cost.

  1. Impressions 

Campaign measurement tools are based on impression statistics (whether efficiency or performance). However, it is not as simple as counting impressions of Internet ads or web pages. Brand experiences in sports broadcasts and streams have different qualities.

Impressions are determined using computer vision (Visual-AI) systems, which must not only detect all impressions, from the most visible to the most fleeting, but also classify each type of impression.

Another factor is processing time. Today, no one is willing to wait days or weeks to get data on online advertising experiences. Why is this acceptable for sponsored analysis? The real-time processing capability may also enable innovative commercial models where brand placement in a multi-day or future event can be considered immediately after the event or even during broadcast.

But impressions should be multi-channel and be considered earned, not just paid. Increasing the number of impressions within a campaign can be of great benefit. Interviews with players and managers, highlights and behind-the-scenes footage. All this determines the value of the brand.

  1. Sponsor Recall 

How well are brands, especially those associated with sponsorships, remembered by consumers? Obviously this is highly dependent on the frequency of exposure and duration of sponsorship. Adding earned exposure as described above gives a clearer picture of why the review numbers are the way they are.

  1. Demographics

As mentioned at the very beginning, fan demographics change a lot, and platforms like Conviva are well-suited to provide important streaming information along with brand experience data.

Similarly, social platforms can also provide demographic data, with platforms such as Conviva extracting data from sponsors’ own posts and combining it with streaming demographic analysis.

  1. Brand Lift and Brand Health indicators
  • NPS (Net Promoter Score). Brand-related metrics are based on overall NPS rankings. One standardized question that gives a general idea of ​​how consumers feel about a brand. Take data before and after sponsorship and analyze the difference.
  • Brand recognition. In your segment, how familiar are consumers with your brand?
  • Brand Sentiment and Favorability. Focuses on how consumers feel about your brand and whether they recommend you to others
  1. Competitor Analysis

All of the above data can be analyzed by key competitors, giving you an idea of ​​how they are performing compared to their competitors.

  1. Sales figures

Brand awareness and attention are two completely different things. Purchase consideration follows brand awareness. During this stage, consumers are actively evaluating your product or service and are considering buying or moving forward with your brand.

An increase in web traffic during and after sponsorship implementation is a strong indicator of actual consideration and willingness to purchase. 

At the end of the funnel, of course, is the sales data itself. Did they grow in line with other indicators?

It is important to separate online and sales data and accurately relate it to different activities. Don’t assume that the sponsorship was successful, even if the increase in sales was actually due to an unrelated advertising campaign.

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