Conducting research for a variety of sports properties and brands that activate around them affords me the opportunity to look at sponsorships with a fresh and unique approach, every time a client or agency calls us in. Yet it confounds me that for such a large and potentially high profile endeavor as investing in a sponsorship or sports marketing program, few still go beyond a fairly standardized approach of assessing potential exposure levels, translating these into GRP or CPM equivalents and, voila…out comes an empirical valuation. I get and subscribe to the K.I.S.S. principle but, time-out, there’s so much more to consider if you want to do this thoughtfully and accurately.
I’ve often belabored the point that not all “eyeballs” are created equal. We’ve done some really interesting proprietary work in the past year that certainly supports that statement. Evaluating potential sponsorship value from either the brand or property’s perspective is a lot more than trying to count eyeballs, attaching demographics and fitting the equation into a nice black box, despite the fact that traditional media planning currency suggests that this is legitimate and sufficient.
In June, I wrote here about how absent a clear understanding of the objectives behind a specific sports marketing activation, it is impossible to evaluate that effort’s performance. Beyond that, truly assessing the ability to provide return on those objectives is hard work, and I’d maintain that the evaluative criteria to measure it, should be as unique as possible to the specifics of a brand’s marketing challenge and/or a property’s offer.
So as not to be hypocritical with my opening assertion, I’m not about to provide a one size fits all formula. Such a formula does not exist, and when you are investing significant dollars in sports (or selling that), good enough just isn’t very good. What I can outline are some common elements that any good measurement program should factor in, beyond simply the size and demographics of the target audience that you are reaching:
Understanding marketing impact isn’t supposed to be easy. That’s not to say that the process is elusive, either. Rather, I’d advocate that you take the time to assess what you really want to know before signing on for research that won’t be worth the time, effort and cost. A custom approach can increase the likelihood that it will be well spent.