That said, while our return to stadiums and arenas presents a welcome opportunity for marketers, our tracking of fan attitudes presents a new factor to consider when activating around live sports.
Even before the most recent CDC advisories and rekindled anxieties about COVID-19, our data was showing that a meaningful segment of sports fans were far from convinced that the pandemic was in the rear-view mirror. Furthermore, while pent-up demand for live sports, indeed manifested itself in a rush back to sports venues, our research shows that in many instances, that return did not always meet expectations. For nearly three in 10, the return to live sports has been an “underwhelming” experience.
I’ve maintained that sponsorship return on objectives is a function of both audience reach and resonance of activations. As we move past the challenges associated with the former, it’s incumbent on us to take a closer look at how our return to full capacity in the present environment, impacts the latter. This suggests tweaks in how we measure resonance.
Too much of the current measurement landscape places a distorted primacy on total audience, which leads to false positives. As I’ve said before, it’s not about the number of eyeballs you reach, but the appropriateness of those eyeballs and the impact that a brand is having on what’s behind them. We’ve identified three foundational measurement criteria for those activating in the live sports space to be:
Today, there is now a fourth dimension that takes on greater meaning in our circuitous slog back to “normalcy,” and that is the factor of comfort and satisfaction with the event itself.
With uneven service delivery, lingering hesitance about safety for some and negative reactions to the imposition of public health protocols by others, the oases of like-minded, kindred spirits that has been a hallmark of live sports, is not always a given. Thus, fan comfort and satisfaction with the in-game environment itself is at least a temporary variable that must be considered when brands evaluate the return on their in-game activation investment.