Social media sponsor partner valuation benchmarking is now free, is it worth it?

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In any business sector, there are always going be incumbents that try throw their weight around to try to destabilize and ultimately bankrupting their rivals. There are rich pickings for those that are left alone in a marketplace with no competition.

We’ve been evaluating and valuing rights holder sponsor partner exposure in sport across digital and social media for a couple years now. When we got into the space we were seen as a tech startup which brought something really interesting to the party but, in a market dominated by TV money and a TV mindset, were seen as a bit of luxury. On one occasion we were effectively thrown out of offices of one of the richest clubs in the world because we asked for £15,000 to track all their sponsor partners through social and digital media, for a whole season – I can only assume they thought we were trying exploit their newly found wealth. They’d rather spend it on the weekly salary of their fourth choice left back, or so they gave the impression.

Since then we have done tracking for the likes of UEFA and many others in and out of the sports arena and we and our clients understand the landscape has changed and there is certainly a new paradigm.

True, TV money still dominates in some sports, but over past 12 months a realization has struck many in the big leagues – namely, that it won’t last for ever.

As highlighted just last month:

“The NFL’s once-golden network TV numbers continue to drop.

NFL games averaged 15.1 million viewers through Week 7 (2017), according to Nielsen data obtained by Sporting News. That’s down 5.1 percent from 15.87 million viewers during the same period last season and off 18.7 percent from 18.35 million viewers during the same period in 2015.”

With this in mind many rights holders are now taking what we do much more seriously and as less of a luxury. In fact, many now see our, then, £15,000 offering, as not only exceptional value, but an absolute necessity if they are going keep their sponsor partners onboard, informed and happy.

But in the short time it has taken us to get here, a certain leader in the TV valuation space has decided to try blow us out the water by offering their “social tracking” for free. For many that would lead to despair and a feeling of impending gloom, but not for us.

So why do we sleep so well at night?

The fact is that what we offer and what you’ll get for free are somewhat different. What our competition offer is benchmarking, using a syndicated system. For those of you who do not know what this is, they track, say, 5000 social media sites regularly – the same 5000 – and they will then tell you how much exposure your Sponsor brands got from that tracking – sampling, in other words.

They do this only through social media, not the broader digital media (social and web).

So, if all you want is to be compared with Northampton Town football club, then this free service – which comes bundled with your paid for TV Sponsor partner tracking (of course you have pay really) – may well be for you. I have nothing against the Cobblers but from my perspective that is what benchmarking basically is.

What we do, using Brand Radar, is to track and analyse all of a brand’s exposure through digital media. That’s totally different from benchmarking, as you can see from this comparison table:

Many rights holders will be happy with benchmarking as all they want is a cheap or free idea of what their value might be – it’s guesswork.

What we do is calculate. It’s much more complex, much harder do and infinitely more valuable.

Guessing would not work for UEFA, FIFA, NBA, or many other big sports clubs and rights holders. Many football clubs, especially those in England are so flush with sponsor partner deals right now – how many now have tire partners (really?) – they don’t all yet see the added value that proper digital analysis brings. But that time will come for these laggards very soon and, when it does, we will be there ready pick up the pieces of benchmarking.

We’ll not be driven out by some free offering, that isn’t worth what it costs, and we certainly won’t be intimidated by someone throwing their weight around because they want the space to themselves.

We’ll not compromise on what we do and we don’t believe it would be right to offer rights holders a syndicated model. And we certainly don’t want to provide the service for free because both we and our clients value what we do and what we do helps our clients business grow week-on-week.

If you really want to know what value you bring your sponsor partners, how to work with them successfully and develop lasting partnerships, come to us. If not, then maybe free is good enough, but you know what they say…. Ultimately you get what you pay for!

Please note, some information in this Brand Radar dashboard, tracking Etihad exposure around a Man City v. Chelsea football match, has been changed for reasons of confidentiality.

Russell Glenister • 10th April 2018

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