Ep 104 – Inside Sponsorship – Best Bits of 2021

It goes without saying that 2021 was a challenge but, as we know, the show must go on and that includes sponsorship. As such, despite the challenges of 2021, it was still a great year filled with lots of amazing chats with sponsorship professionals from all over the world.

Now, as always, we’ve wrapped up the year and re-visited the 11 episodes of Inside Sponsorship from 2021. You might have seen on social media that, for each show, we pull out a 30-45 second snippet and turn it into a video to help whet your appetite. As such, we’ve gone back and pulled the full question and answer, for that snippet, and created a best of 2021 show for you.


Have an idea or topic you would like us to cover in future episodes? Reach out to us directly at bspod@koresoftware.com. 

Inside Sponsorship

Inside Sponsorship is the show that provides sponsorship professionals with advice, insights and news so that they can maximise their commercial programs and achieve best practice.

Content Grasshopper is a boutique marketing consultancy where I help clients, of all sizes, develop marketing that focuses on a ‘marketing through teaching’ approach to engage their target audience, demonstrate expertise, and build trust as a pathway to conversion or action.

Read More

Key Takeaways: Unlocking a Data-Rich Landscape

Like many events, the Sports Tech World Series conference in Australia went virtual this year. KORE’s Cliff Unger (SVP of Worldwide Sales) and Marc Roots (Chief Product Officer) shared their insights on using data to inform important business decisions.

Since companies today must make smarter investments than ever before, they highlighted ways that leaders in the sports industry leverage data to evolve their business strategies and build stronger relationships between sports fans and brands. Read on for the three key takeaways from their presentation.

Centralize Mass Industry Data for Cross-Organizational Leverage

There are few industries with the same amount of data transactions as sports, noted Unger. The myriad of transactions that fans have with a venue is unrivaled. Every time a fan enters a stadium, multiple transactions take place across several different business areas within just a few brief hours—entry and ticket scanning, interacting with sponsors, purchasing merchandise, finding their seats, multiple food and beverage purchases, and engaging on multiple social media platforms.

The complexities are immense, but this huge amount of data can be the key to unlocking value for partners as well as optimizing the rights holder’s revenue. If rights holders use this data to better understand and improve specific customer journeys, they can present their partners with a more strategic approach to objective returns and inevitably a truer connection their fans.

The key here is to centralize data so an entire organization has an intimate view of their fans. Unger pointed out that “data-led decision making is not new but finding ways to unlock it from various different silos in the business has to be done more effectively… with a level of precision and accuracy creating this true fan-to-brand value chain.”

Some of the most sophisticated organizations still struggle to centralize data in impactful ways across their organization. Roots added that “it’s really important that you’re prepping data, so that by the time we’re actually putting that [data] in the format of a report or doing analysis, it’s easy for anyone—from sales, to service departments, commercial teams, digital groups, finance teams, all the way up to ownership or board members. It’s really important that we’re making this data accessible and not just making data move from siloed systems into siloed departments. We really want to empower the entire organization to make decisions.”

This “democratization of data” allows almost anyone in your organization to benefit from your data. Unger described these users as “citizen consumers” of data. If they can make data-driven decisions without having to go to the analytics team for every tiny question, it’s much easier to get their buy-in. The key is making it accessible and easily digestible so that all team members (not just business analysts) can make informed decisions.

Utilize Centralized Data to Activate on a Consumer Level

If you’re able to democratize data so that it becomes accessible to anyone in an organization, you can then gain a better understanding of who your fans are across the board. What motivates their loyalty? How can you create personalized journeys to increase affinity and fan value?

Roots said “it’s important that centralizing the data is the building block, but it’s what you do with it from there that’s really going to count… We want to drive a personalized experience.” He continued, adding that “we want a single view of that fan, and we want to make sure that we’re intelligently understanding and segmenting [them] and [identifying] the appropriate journey that makes sense for the fan. Not everyone is the same. Not everyone needs to be interacted with at the same pace, or with the same content. So it’s making sure that we understand who fans are and how they behave down to that granular level.”

Even simple tactics like RFM score (how Recently and Frequently a customer made a purchase and the associated Monetary value) empower organizations to put customers on the right targeted journey. This makes other tactics like segment scoring and understanding unique customer paths more manageable. This leads to increasingly sophisticated strategies to target objectives and create deeper connections with fans.

Succeed through data-driven sponsorships
Sponsors have more opportunities for activation than ever before. As such, brands expect rights holders to understand their fans deeply. Rights holders need to present compelling stories that show how sponsorships align with each brand’s marketing objectives.

Data-driven sponsorships also help brand sponsorship professionals tell their own stories. Many marketing teams are very adept at telling stories internally and using data to justify each dollar they spend. They can do this because the channels they activate through—especially digital—provide excellent data. As a rights holder, you’re a marketing channel for your sponsors. If you provide relevant and usable data, they can combine that with their own data to show why sponsorships are worth the costs.

The discussion wrapped up with some thoughts on how well-organized data leads not just to a better understanding of consumers, but to successful activations and partnerships. Roots concluded that “at the end of the day, brands are doing sponsorships and creating these partnerships for access to avid fans. The more clearly you understand who your fans are, your storytelling to brands and the ability to present that value back becomes immense and you can really drive more valuable partnerships.”

To hear the entire conversation, watch below:

Unlocking a Data-Rich Landscape – How Business Intelligence can become sport and entertainment’s silver bullet in 2021

Speakers: Cliff Unger (SVP – Worldwide Sales) and Marc Roots (Chief Product Officer)

From ticketing and membership, attendance, food and beverage to sponsorship ROI. No part of Sport and Entertainment will be untouched by the data revolution, so how do we set ourselves up for success?

Content Grasshopper is a boutique marketing consultancy where I help clients, of all sizes, develop marketing that focuses on a ‘marketing through teaching’ approach to engage their target audience, demonstrate expertise, and build trust as a pathway to conversion or action.

Read More

6 Reasons Brands Are Attracted To Sponsoring Esports

As more people—especially youth and young adults— shift their habits away from traditional media, it’s becoming harder for brands to reach these fragmented audiences. By their very nature, Esports thrive in the online environment. They also present many of the same sponsorship opportunities that traditional sports do. But many brands have taken a “wait and see” approach to this new market.

The wait is over, and what do we see? Those brands are missing out! Esports are a billion-dollar industry that has already surpassed the revenue and viewership of several traditional sports. The events freely transcend geographic boundaries, making them especially attractive for global brands. Early adopters are reaping the rewards, but there are still plenty of opportunities. Consider these reasons that an Esports sponsorship might be what your brand needs to thrive:

1. A Growing Market

2020 is the year of Esports. The market is projected to reach US$1.1 billion in revenue this year, up 13.6% from 2019. The audience size has grown to around 495 million viewers so far. Although the global pandemic has surely prompted more people to give Esports a chance, the momentum is expected to keep up—projections suggest there could be 646 million viewers in 2023. That’s a whopping 31% increase to look forward to.

The most-viewed single Esports event so far was the 2018 League of Legends Mid-Season Invitational in Adlershof and Paris. This event attracted 60 million online viewers. For comparison, the NFL’s Super Bowl drew 103.4 million viewers that same year.

Despite debate around whether Esports are “real” sports, even the International Olympic Committee is paying attention. They endorsed the Intel Extreme Masters tournament during the leadup to the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Games. Prior to the COVID-forced postponement, the IOC had also planned to endorse the Intel World Open Esports tournament ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Summer Games.

2. A Flexible Industry

The Esports industry is still young. Brands and agencies have a golden opportunity to ensure that true relationship-based and outcome-focused sponsorships can be built. There are many smart professionals in the Esports industry who have deep experience with sponsorships, but they can often provide more flexibility than their cohorts in traditional sports can. Rights holders are thirsty for strong and sustainable corporate engagement—many are willing to tailor a custom solution to each client’s needs instead of sticking to a package-based approach.

3. Naturally Digital-First

Sports have traditionally been focused on the in-person experience and television audience. Digital assets are often treated as add-ons. But with Esports, digital assets are foremost in the rights holders’ minds.

Remember the Esports event we mentioned earlier that attracted over 60 million viewers? Fewer than 7,000 of them attended in person.

Sponsorships built to focus on digital activations can be highly creative. Campaigns can very easily be adjusted, enhanced, or stopped to effectively utilize resources based on results.

For many brands, an important objective is to connect with fans and build a marketing database for follow-up. This is more easily done in the digital world—many fans willingly provide personal contact information to access content or enter contests.

4. An Entryway To China

Expansion and engagement in China are attractive strategies for Western brands. That’s not only because of China’s enormous population—trends indicate that Chinese consumers love Western brands. In addition, China led all other regions in Esports revenues in 2019. Any savvy brand manager can see the opportunity here!

5. Millennials Are Watching

Millennials make up nearly 23.5% of the population, but they’re one of the most difficult demographics for advertisers to reach. They don’t consume TV, radio, newspapers, and magazines to the same extent prior generations did. Instead, everything they could possibly need is just a few taps, swipes, or clicks away.

To reach this audience, many brands are foregoing traditional advertising in favor of online platforms and in-person events. Esports sponsorships are once again an attractive opportunity: 62% of US Esports viewers are in the coveted age 18-34 demographic. And to make it even sweeter, a 58% majority of professional gaming fans have a positive attitude toward brand involvement in Esports.

6. Rising Brand Recall

It might feel like Esports audiences would only care about endemic brands—those whose products or services are closely connected to gaming or technology. But many Esports fans understand the need for sponsorships and appreciate the brands that help Esports grow, endemic or not. Brand recall has been slowly increasing year-on-year: recall for endemic brands is up to 53% while recall for nonendemic brands has now reached 43%.

Opportunities clearly abound in the Esports arena—will you take advantage?

Content Grasshopper is a boutique marketing consultancy where I help clients, of all sizes, develop marketing that focuses on a ‘marketing through teaching’ approach to engage their target audience, demonstrate expertise, and build trust as a pathway to conversion or action.

Read More

Quantity vs Quality – The Fan Segmentation Debate in Sponsorship

Last year, on Inside Sponsorship, we spoke with Ben Hartman, Chief Client Officer at Octagon, about award-winning trends in sponsorship.

Although this largely looked at the brand side of the deal, there were plenty of takeaways applicable to the rights holder space. Specifically, audience targeting and distribution strategy.

Selling through audience data, vs a traditional sales model, still divides the sponsorship industry. Whilst everyone will acknowledge that the best-case scenario is a brand raising awareness to a certain audience, it’s how they engage and interact with that audience that is starting to separate the good and not so good.

It’s broadly accepted that when we’re building a sponsorship deal, it’s being constructed with the primary purpose of helping a brand deliver a specific message to a specific audience that they otherwise don’t have access to or can’t access easily. Traditionally speaking, we used to inherently believe that brands wanted the biggest possible audience size to speak or engage with. So, as a result, we’d see plenty of proposals and reports with big numbers designed to simply promote a property as the biggest and best option.

This year, however, we’re already starting to see the quantity vs quality debate become more prevalent during discussions and negotiation of sponsorship deals. There is a genuine effort from rights holders to shift away from presenting brands with big numbers = big value and more towards better numbers = better value.

The growth of this trend is somewhat thanks to now being able to solve the problem of mass duplication of fan and member data. That’s because membership and ticketing teams around the world are now starting to conduct improved audience segmentation activities based on clean data. And whilst this might have initially been a fan profiling exercise, to grow membership-based revenue, sponsorship professionals are now able to jump on the proverbial bandwagon and enhance their targeting and re-targeting efforts by identifying detailed audience groups for brands to engage with.

A great example of this in Australia is the North Queensland Cowboys. By engaging with and collecting new member profile data, the Cowboys have been able to create in excess of 25 fan segment groups.

With better access to first and third-party data (social media, attendance rate, valuation reports, etc), rights holders are now able to start washing their fan profile data against a brand’s avatars to create targeted sponsorship campaigns.

Companies like Gemba, Greenroom Digital, and 4front are then helping rights holders develop strategies to take full advantage of the new data.

Quick tips moving forward 

Focus on achieving clean data

Any efforts towards having clean fan and membership data, for the purpose of creating a single-customer-view, will be a huge win for the entire business. Explore whether you’re able to see attendance, membership, or merchandise trends. This will allow you to start building out comprehensive segments for marketing purposes.

Look at fan profiles vs brand avatars.

Spend some time analysing those big numbers. Pull your membership and ticketing teams aside to explore various fan profiles. This will be a huge asset when it comes to identifying new sponsorship categories based on what and where your fans are.

Discover the right segments and customer journeys

A lot of marketing teams will have already done a lot of work around what their customer and fan journeys look like and, in most cases, this will also mirror a well thought-out sales process for sponsorship sales. This will allow you to understand exactly where and when a brand can enter the fan or customer journey to present their message.

Content Grasshopper is a boutique marketing consultancy where I help clients, of all sizes, develop marketing that focuses on a ‘marketing through teaching’ approach to engage their target audience, demonstrate expertise, and build trust as a pathway to conversion or action.

Read More