Why deep data analysis means deeper relationships between rights owners and sponsors

Russell Glenister, SnapRapid founder & CEO

Being able to show sponsors how their brands are performing on social and digital media is no longer a nice-to-do for rights owners – sponsors are demanding it and those who can’t or won’t comply will be passed over.

Talk to anybody involved in selling sports sponsorship and they’ll tell you what a tough gig it is.

In general, the further you go down the sports food chain the tougher it gets and, given increased competition for marketing spend from new sports and other forms of entertainment, sport is going to have to up its game if the sector is to retain the lions’ share of sponsorship spend in years ahead.

While it may be true to say that sports rights owners take a more flexible and partnership-based approach to selling and servicing sponsorship than was the case only a few years ago, as someone looking at the sector with an analyst’s hat on, there is still room for improvement in the way that rights sales are pitched, sold and then supported.

Of course, there are many sponsorship deals which appear to be made in heaven, those where the property seems to deliver exactly what the sponsor wants continuously. But do they really?

If you accept the standard wisdom that customers are easier to retain than win, keeping existing sponsors happy has never been more important and sponsor servicing must mean more than making sure that signage is in the right place and that there’s enough chilled white wine in hospitality.

I recently read a check-list of things which rights owners should be ticking off to keep sponsors happy and was literally amazed. That check-list contained four basic strands:

1.    Provide sponsors with relevant data including digital and social impressions

2.    Be transparent and don’t hide data from them

3.    Consider value beyond media exposure

4.    Be proactive in response to a client’s objectives

It’s tempting to look at that list and ask why anybody who needs reminding of such basic principles is still in the business. But, more importantly, I would suggest questioning the approach as the right one at all.

Boiled right down, what the list is saying is that rights owners must think and act more like consultants than salesmen and invest in the tools and technology they need to play that new role effectively – that’s a good start. But it also says, forget about really understanding the relationship and stick with something that’s all a bit basic, almost certainly is going be centred around TV viewing figures and is likely to come in the form of a Powerpoint presentation, printed on paper.

The profound changes in media consumption which are being experienced right now mean that reliance on metrics based on TV audience figures is not only misleading but, from the rights holder’s perspective, commercially dumb. The world has changed and what people are seeing and saying on social platforms and digital channels can no longer be an “add-on” to a sponsorship. They are increasingly at the core and must be understood in contextual, as well as, numeric terms. Knowing that a brand has featured in a post with a million impressions on social media is one thing, but understanding the context and sentiment around that post becomes an invaluable metric.

Sponsors need to know what is being said about them, by whom, what’s triggering that conversation, on what channels it’s taking place and why. If they are publishing visual content themselves they need to understand what types of content works best on which channels and how it is being received.

If a rights holder is unable or unwilling to provide that data for them, they may take their business elsewhere – there’s no shortage of options.

By the same token it is important to provide sponsors with all the data analytics, using the latest technologies, that are available, not just that which shows them – or the property – in the best light. Knowing what’s not working is equally important as the success stories and allows sponsors to adjust their marketing sights and find new ways of making a sponsorship more effective.

Considering value beyond TV exposure is simply a no-brainer but if a sponsor is going to place a value on their coverage across social and digital media to reflect the true picture of how a sponsorship is working for them, they need real, actionable analysed data and not a bunch of figures extrapolated from assessment of a handful of specific, pre-chosen, sites. It’s about real breadth of data gathering, finding all exposure and mentions and expert analysis, not simple sampling.

This is particularly important at a time when sports TV audiences are falling, either because of an overall downward trend or a deliberate decision by rights owners to take their properties to pay channels which offer fat cheques but deliver significantly fewer eyeballs for sponsors.

The final point on the checklist – taking a proactive approach to a client’s objectives – is perhaps the most important of all.  But if you don’t have access to analysed data which allows you to understand precisely how a sponsorship is performing it is impossible to link that to objectives and make relevant decisions.

In our changed and changing world it is important that rights owners help keep sponsorship deals fresh and effective – something which is in the interests of all parties. And the only way to do that is to ensure they have access to the breadth and depth of data analysis, which gives them a 360-degree picture of how the property and its sponsors are performing.

At SnapRapid we have spent the last two years developing technology and a suite of linked services, which generates exactly that data analysis and have worked with several high-profile rights owners. They understand that access to analysed data helps enable them to fully realise the value of their sponsorship offer, extend their appeal in a competitive market and better support existing sponsors.

Right now, we are on the cusp of a significant change in the sponsorship sector. Up until now too many rights owners have been hesitant to commit to deep data acquisition and analysis, unsure of how the investment will translate into revenue and additional business.

But the time has come when burying ones head in the sand and hoping it’s a passing fad, are gone. Deeply analysed data is no longer a nice-to-have, it has become an essential staple of effective modern sponsorship and rights owners who can’t – or don’t feel they have to – supply it are likely be overlooked, sooner than later.

And that means real data analysis about the fastest-growing media sectors that delivers a real understanding of not only coverage and monetary value, but cultural value: fan perceptions; triggers; stability; and overall effectiveness of that relationship across all digital channels. Digital media is where consumers live and successful sports properties are those who understand the need to help their sponsor brands build their positive and influential presence in that space.

Failing to accept that as a key component of any sponsorship deal is something rights owners do at their peril.

SnapRapid recently soft launched two new products:

SnapRapid Athlete Index and Sponsorship Cultural Key, contact me for further information.

data analysisrights ownersSponsors

Russell Glenister • 5th December 2016

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