Sponsorships come in various shapes and sizes, offering sponsors an array of assets to leverage. But how can we accurately gauge and monitor their success, and how do we demonstrate their true value?
Unlike other forms of communication, measuring the return on investment in sponsorships goes beyond financial gains and audience actions. Sponsors often engage in events and activities that can profoundly affect fans on an emotional level for commercial purposes, and this aspect deserves careful consideration. It’s the fans and event participants, whether they’re attending a match, participating in a league, enjoying a concert or festival, or partaking in a charity run, who can make or break the success of a sponsorship. But who is examining this, and how? And where does media intelligence come into play? In this article I will share you my thoughts on these questions.
Let's consider where commercial value needs validation
First, for the sponsorship property owner, who needs to understand and confirm the value they can provide to a sponsor; second, for potential sponsors, who have branding, targeting, and financial responsibilities; and third, for the sponsor’s internal reporting. However, beyond the superficial vanity metrics, how do we measure and track the resonance of the fan experience, and how can we influence it?
In reality, there is no industry-standard methodology for comprehensively measuring sponsorships, although several impressive and innovative approaches exist. What’s commonly overlooked and underestimated is the role of earned media insight within a meaningful measurement framework.
Moving Beyond Vanity Metrics in Sponsorship
The mantra is “Value over Vanity” when it comes to earned media. Vanity metrics might look good, but what practical purpose do they serve?
That’s not to say we should completely disregard quantitative metrics—they hold value, especially in sponsorship. Quantitative metrics establish the context of a sponsorship, including its scale, access to sources, audience reach, or regional impact, which is vital for sponsors who may not have a natural presence in that space.
Furthermore, without media insight, there is no visibility regarding how well the sponsor’s name is associated with the property. Evaluating the Degree of Ownership as a Key Performance Indicator (KPI) can reveal how often the current sponsor(s) is mentioned in relation to the overall mentions of the sponsored property. This becomes particularly pertinent during a transition from an old to a new sponsorship, or when contract negotiations approach and there’s a notable disparity between potential mentions and actual mentions the sponsor receives through the arrangement.
When negotiating contracts, the “cost” associated with media mentions represents a significant portion of the overall “value.” Yet, very few sponsors leverage this substantial platform of passing mentions and integrate it into a content-driven sponsorship resource that aligns with their overall sponsorship strategy, complete with measurable KPIs incorporated into a comprehensive measurement framework.
Uncovering Sponsorship Value Through Media Insight
If we set aside the surface-level statistics, what insights can media intelligence provide about sponsorship? When we view sponsorship as a key strategic pillar within a broader media intelligence report, the answer is: quite a lot. Years of media insight analysis, including relevant sponsorship mentions among competitors, performed as part of an integrated measurement process, have revealed several key findings:
Scale and Ubiquity Matter: Establishing a strong and consistent foundation in sponsorship coverage is crucial for maintaining Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) even during crises.
Quality Matters in Media Performance: When a common industry issue dominates media coverage, sponsorship coverage and quality can become differentiators.
Correlation with Impact: There are observable correlations between sponsorship activity and its impact on consumer sentiment metrics.
So, how does all of this connect back to fans and consumers?
Media insight not only provides a tangible value baseline but also uncovers significant intangible value potential. Understanding the platform, perceptions, audiences, and the complex dynamics of stakeholders becomes a valuable tool for setting strategy, defining KPIs, and benchmarking.
In sponsorship measurement, it’s essential to reconsider earned media’s role from merely high value to high impact. Dismissing media insight measurement as part of a high-end analysis framework is a misstep in identifying and tracking “experience impact” and, consequently, broader sponsorship KPIs.
Incorporating media insights into sponsorship strategies
This tactic offers a multitude of advantages. Firstly, it provides a deeper understanding of how your sponsorship resonates with the audience, going beyond surface-level metrics. By tracking media mentions and sentiment trends, you can gauge the emotional impact of your sponsorship on fans and consumers, allowing you to fine-tune your approach for maximum resonance. Moreover, media insights enable you to assess the effectiveness of your sponsorship compared to competitors, helping you identify areas for improvement and gain a competitive edge.
Additionally, this data-driven approach empowers you to set more meaningful KPIs, align your strategies with broader business goals, and ultimately, prove the true value of your sponsorship investments to stakeholders. Embracing media insights as an integral part of your sponsorship analysis framework is the key to unlocking the full potential of your sponsorship initiatives.
The marriage of sponsorships and media intelligence is an avenue that deserves far more attention and understanding. To truly harness the potential of sponsorships, it’s vital to move beyond superficial metrics and embrace the deeper insights that media intelligence can offer. By doing so, we can elevate sponsorships from being just financial transactions to emotionally resonant experiences that leave a lasting impact on both fans and sponsors alike.