March Madness: He Shoots, He Scores, On The Scoreboard And SponsorHub Dashboard, Too

You may be interested in how the concluding games in March Madness NCAA basketball tournament unfold over the next few days. But not many people are watching these games the same way Andrew Reid is.

He’s the chief technology officer for SponsorHub, an online platform that measures how brands and personalities perform on social-media sites and other places, vital information in the $50 billion sponsorship/endorsement biz. 

During the tournament, Reid, who is also heading the new Athletes and Personalities division, is having the company’s dashboard tabulate how viewers are reacting to--how they feelabout--18 of better known players who have been in it to win it. Players like this take scoring into a new realm.

Millions of tweets, Intagrams and Facebook mentions are being evaluated on SponsorHub's dashboard. Nobody’s paying for it—that would violate NCAA rules, no doubt—though SponsorHub might let some talent agencies review the data if they ever end up repping one of the players, or if a product is seeking a front man.

And since this is a freebee, SponsorHub is not monitoring many, many more social sites, like it usually would. 

SponsorHub is crunching how viewers feel about players based on these emotions, or attitudes that they’ve expressed in social media: enjoyment, excitement, affection, gratitude, anger, disappointment, fear and shame.

That kind of information can change pretty darn quick, and that's insight valuable to players and products from cell phones to X-Box consoles.

So, right now, Reid can tell you, “Some teams seem to be a lot more forgiving of failure than others. For example, C. J. Fair, even though his team [Syracuse]) is knocked out, is still doing remarkably well on social media. On the flip side is [Duke’s] Jabari Parker. He came into the tournament looking really strong on social media, but his failure to deliver a win for Duke didn’t go over very well. Not at all.”

Parker’s favorable mentions on social media—or mentions at all--fell off the cliff. Quickly.

The important thing is that SponsorHub analytics can monitor what’s being said, in real time, and presumably also make sense of it. For example, if, on Twitter, I’d say a player’s “bad” among my 140 characters, what does that mean?  Do I mean really bad, or well, really good?

It’s not such a little question. SponsorHub worked for several clients (including American Express and Sprint and athletes such as tennis star Venus Williams and helping a client by tracking quarterback Colin Kaepernick), and its tools can help account for that weirdness. Stuff happens.

“During the Olympics we were able to discern some sarcasm directed at Shaun White,” Reid explained the other day.  “And it’s what I mean about unpacking emotions beyond positive and negative.  One of the things that kept coming up about him was 'gratitude.' Well, it turns out some random woman created a meme  about him, ‘The Shaun White Haircut  Appreciation’ tweet.  So that goes viral and that drove a lot of impressions. It

Monitoring what consumers feel about use—SponsorHub typically does it prior to an event, during the event and long after the event—can give an advertiser or sports agent insight into what, if anything, a player can do for brands. 

In part, Reid says, players tend to fit into selling strategies pretty well because when happiness and excitement are at high levels, some psychologists say, “people are more interested in learning about new products and trying new things” and using players or celebrities fit into that strategy. “Just logically speaking, that makes sports a good place to suggest a viewer test drive a new car or try a new soda.”

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