Brandweek Retrospect: The Pressure of Justifying Partnership Investment, Explained

We understand that the unique value of an investment in sports and entertainment sponsorships is gigantic, and we understand that it’s hard to measure. From purpose-driven influencers like Nico Rosberg, and sports stars like Alex Morgan to branded naming rights for the world’s largest stadiums like the Toyota Center or digital spaces in Decentraland, across the board these partnerships surprise and delight. They elevate expectations, connect with people, drive fan engagement, and level up your brand awareness in unexpected ways, and at times, drive the bottom line. While at 2022 Brandweek hosted by AdWeek, we shared inspiring stories, assessed virtual reality as shared experiences, and discussed aspirational activations. Yet, there was a low line buzz we picked up on. Underneath it all, we kept running into the murmur of concern over the economy and how that was going to impact budgets for next year’s partnership investments and potential deals. An aspirational buzz kill, we know.  

Sponsorship Investment Will Only Grow

Partnership accountability continues to surface at the executive level, as C-suite executives are pressed to report financials to their boards. This ultimately results in teams under them being pressured to bring financial results to light for their partnership initiatives. We feel it. Everyone in the industry feels it. But if we know that clever and meaningful partnerships and investments pay off well, then why is there so much pressure? Simply put, this recently evaluated $60B sponsorship industry has experienced rapid growth in recent years, with a variety of measurement tools without clear benchmarks and tracking mechanisms.  When Roger Federer announced ending his relationship with Nike in 2018, to move to Japanese apparel manufacturer Uniqlo, their stock went up 500% the next day. That’s a clear measurement. But not every brand is publicly traded or can manage huge numbers for tennis legends. The failure to clearly quantify and communicate how partnership investments impact the company’s financials comes down to a breakdown from fragmented communication across organizations, and de-centralized tracking and measurement abilities.

Overcoming Partnership Budget Fears

As recent as 2020, the Marketing Accountability Standards Board (MASB) and the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) released research indicating that 60% of marketers didn’t have tools in place to communicate, measure, and grow the investments in their long-term sponsorship relationships within their portfolio. The industry is behind the times of current data and measurement capabilities.  

We see this repeatedly with our own clients consisting of 100s of rights holders and brands. After a single system with tracking, measurement, and optimization of the organization’s data in one centralized spot occurs, we hear instant gratification. It’s a process to implement, especially when companies are already in a large matrix setup, but it’s achievable. It’s even better when smaller organizations can implement the right tools to scale with their business. When it happens, we hear results like; “We’ve transformed how we administer our partnerships.” or “For our newer partners, we’ve been able to more than double their investment into us year over year, specifically based off [the platform] and the reports.” The accolades go on. Here at KORE Software, we are quietly changing the game. Over the past year we merged our solutions into one holistic system that can be tailored to any brand wanting to quantify ROI from sponsorships. Learn how you can research any partnership with your own data and our data, and manage, measure and optimize your entire partnership portfolio from one single source platform.  

To learn more about our Portfolio Optimization Platform or any of our tools found within it, reach out to us for a demo.  

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Brand Defining Moments: 4 Tips for Creating Long-Term Sponsorship Partner Success

One of the most common planning frustrations we hear from brands is that instead of researching partnership best fits, they heavily depend on the timing of opportunities that walk through the door. This creates a constant reactive cycle. Brands big and small know how critical athlete, artist, and influencer sponsorships are, which is why it’s important to be both reactive and proactive when researching and identifying potential partnerships. Here, we walk you through our tips on how to balance the two approaches. Then, we’ll guide you on how to research your partnership decisions faster using your own data, your potential partner’s data, and real-time insights tracked across the entire sports and influencer network.

The importance of balancing proactive and reactive research for partnerships

Many organizations have come to us with concerns over missed opportunities, looking for tools or support to help fill in the gaps. When proactive research is in place, and a new opportunity arises, team’s can confidently seize opportunities that matched criteria. Having the right tools in place will help you attract, filter and quickly find the the best matches.  Our Intake tool streamlines most of this type of work for you, allowing you to take advantage of trends before your competitors do. Making space for both proactive and reactive research leads to better decision-making overall. Being able to react and plan simultaneously keeps your organization flexible and adaptable in a constantly changing world. This sets you up to recognize brand defining moments as they arise culturally. When it comes to partnerships, proactive brands are always looking for potential opportunities. Here’s how we suggest balancing the overall approach.

1. Understand your objectives, and identify clear KPIs and target demographics.

Before you begin reaching out to potential partners or reviewing them, ensure you understand or have developed your business objectives for the partnership. If other teams will be supporting the partnership in any way, from finance and operations to social, digital, and event brand activations, sharing these goals and their Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) will provide awareness for other teams to support the cause and create more alignment. Some of the brands we work with have told us how hard it is to align goals between teams. For example, what sports marketing’s goals are, could be wholly different than brand activation. While you may benefit from the same partnerships, your KPIs could be vastly different. Having a single-source of truth to track every team’s needs can create massive amounts of cost savings, and efficiency for your brand, while ensuring consistency for fans who deeply engage with those partnerships.  It’s important to identify the attributes of your target demographic. This will help you better align yourself with the right partners and support content that is more likely to resonate with their fans and your brand.

2. Leverage your own data to research partnerships.

Brands have a wealth of data at their fingertips. Your own customer data can give you incredible insights into who your target demographic is, what they care about, and how to reach them. Additionally, analyzing your website’s traffic sources can help you identify which channels are most effective at driving traffic and leads. Yet, often we hear frustration from sponsorship teams who are not only chasing the data, but require access to it in a timely manner or and help translating it. Getting the full snapshot into your brand’s data isn’t easy though.  Our Portfolio Optimization Platform is the industry-first solution that streamlines your brand’s data into one single tool which teams across your organization can access versus people working in silos chasing down data points across various teams and orgs.

3. Examine your potential partner’s data to research partnerships.

Many brands make the mistake of only looking at their own data when researching partnerships. However, by looking at your potential partner’s data as well, you can gain a much broader understanding of their target demographic, what content they produce and share, and how they engage with their fans/followers and how they can compliment your brand.

Gain real-time insights across the social sport and influencer network to research partnerships.

One of the best ways to get real-time insights into potential partnerships is to track conversations happening across the social sport and influencer network. This will allow you to see what content is resonating with fans, what athletes/artists/influencers are generating the most engagement, and which sponsorships are generating the most buzz.

The KORE Sport & Entertainment Graph tracks:
  • 100k athletes & influencers
  • 10K+ teams, leagues, events
  • 1M+ deals & assets
  • 2B+ fans & fan data

If you want access to the largest Sports and Influencer Network, that analyzes spend, and tracks social output for more than 500,000 entities across Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Weibo, VK and TikTok, then learn how the McClaren Formula 1 Racing team uses it in this case study. Or reach out for a demo to learn how to leverage it for your own research. 

4. Stay agile

No one can predict the future, but by planning for potential problems, you can avoid or minimize them. For example, being able to swiftly swap content assets to another partnership that meets the criteria of the goals, or creating space to react mindfully over a situation garnering public attention are common issues.  By having a solid plan in place, and easy visibility over all of your assets, you’ll be able to act quickly and decisively when something unexpected does come up. 

The world is constantly changing and businesses need to be flexible and adaptable in order to stay ahead of the curve. Staying proactive will allow you to react quickly to changes in the market and capitalize on new opportunities as they arise.


Fine-tuned research to make critical decisions on partnership spend is necessary in today’s industry. Creating successful partnerships means finding a balance between being proactive and responsive. If you’re too reactive, you’ll be at the mercy of current events and trends, potentially losing track of long-term relationship goals and KPIs. However, if you’re too proactive, you won’t be able to take advantage of new opportunities. This will allow for a more well-rounded, long-term partnership that can grow over time. By using your own data, potential partner’s data, and real-time insights tracked across the internet, you can research partnerships faster than ever before. Reach out for a demo on how our industry-leading single source platform can bring the research and KPIs together. A streamlined system will help you not just seize the right opportunities but quickly recognize those brand defining moments to elevate, ultimately shaping and shifting the future of your organization.

KORE is the global leader in engagement marketing solutions, serving more than 200 professional teams and 850+ sports and entertainment properties worldwide, providing practical tools and services to harness customer data, facilitate sponsorship sales and activation, and create actionable insights.

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KORE’s 2022 Action & Outdoor Sports Annual Brand Review

Learn which brands are being promoted the most across action sports, who’s creating the highest sponsorship value and fan engagement, and what topics their fans are talking about on social media. We also discuss how value is determined across social and share insights on how the most distinctive action sport brands are defining successful partnerships.

Action & Outdoor Sports Analysis Includes

Posts from athletes, organizations, and events across action & outdoor sports published on social media from July 1, 2021 – July 1, 2022. 

  • BMX
  • Climbing
  • Cyclocross
  • Fishing
  • Kiteboarding
  • Motocross
  • Mountain Bike
  • Skateboard
  • Ski
  • Snowboard
  • Surf
  • Wakeboard
The Pursuit of Meaningful and Measurable Partnerships

Recently, our team hosted more than 20 global action and outdoor sport brands for annual workshops where we review the state of action & outdoor sport partnerships across the social sphere. With the ripple effect of social media, choosing the right sponsorships, or athletes and influencers to partner with has never had more scrutiny and pressure. The key takeaway was that brands want to measure the success of their entire partnership; from lifestyle, event, performance and community-driven objectives, to digital activations. Yet, we heard over and over that it’s hard to determine what to compare against, which tools to use and how one measures authenticity and quality– two of the most important aspects for a successful relationship.

How are Action & Outdoor Sport Brands Measuring Up?

There are no surprises here, with Red Bull and Monster Energy in the lead with twice the amount of total sponsorship value over the leading pack. Yet the sporting goods and apparel industry stand out achieving the highest adjusted ad value per promoted post.

What is Adjusted Ad Value and Why Does it Matter?

The adjusted ad value (AAV) is a measurement that determines a dollar value to assign to a social post based on how clearly logos or brand mentions are prominently displayed, combined with the level of engagement the post creates. With our Evaluate Social tool  (formerly called Hookit) brands can easily see and track the AAV of their partners social media content displaying their logo, tags or mentions. Now, on the other side of the fence, major sports teams, like McLaren Formula 1 Racing Team also use AAV to demonstrate to their partners where and how brand exposure is happening across their social channels to support strategic planning. Understanding your partner’s AAV is a two-way street that helps drive stronger partnership value for brands, rights holders, athletes and influencers. 

Which Sport is Creating the Most Brand Value?

While skateboarding is at the top of the arena right now, it’s interesting that when the snowboarding community, a smaller group online than most other action sports, do show up on social they have the highest level of engagement. 

Skateboarding leads again, per our recent analysis of the value of women in sport  where teen athlete Rayssa Leal leads more AAV per social post than any other female athlete, outshining household names like Serena Williams and Simone Biles, who didn’t make the top five.

What do Action Sport Fans Talk About on Social Media?

Compared to the wider sports industry where topics around cryptocurrency, and automotive innovation are high engagement drivers, fans of action and outdoor sports are more focused on topics that impact human equity, self worth and the environment. Listening for this information is critical to choosing the right partnerships.

Brand Discussion: Capturing Insights Beyond the Metrics

For a more in depth look at each action and outdoor sport category, best practices for engagement, and key takeaways, take a look at our comprehensive analysis here. If you’re looking for a way to measure your own partnerships beyond basic social metrics, request a demo to see our industry-leading Portfolio Optimization Platform in action. Besides organizing your assets and data, our unrivaled solution provides the industry’s most comprehensive dataset for a deeper understanding of how your partnership portfolio is performing.

Want to learn more how KORE Software can help your brand? Request a demo today.

KORE is the global leader in engagement marketing solutions, serving more than 200 professional teams and 850+ sports and entertainment properties worldwide, providing practical tools and services to harness customer data, facilitate sponsorship sales and activation, and create actionable insights.

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Top 3 Key Takeaways from Sports Business Journal’s Brand Innovation Summit 2022

Here, we lean into the most buzzworthy topics at the 2022 Sports Business Journal’s Brand Innovation Summit. From data predictions, ideation and innovation constantly in motion, to the way consumer engagement continues to evolve. See our key takeaways to learn more.

1. Data is the Driving Force Behind all Decision-Making

Data has been the mantra for some time now, but brands and rights holders are doubling down on it to create new ways to connect to their audience at the right time and in meaningful ways. At this year’s summit, brands like FritoLay and Pepsi—alongside major sports leagues like the NHL—touted data as the lifeblood of their organizations that’s at the core of how they plan and activate. It’s not merely about gathering raw data but harnessing its power efficiently. Having precise, clean, actionable data enables brands to be more agile, responsive, and far more targeted than ever before. Harnessing data effectively provides insights into your audience’s preferences and unique behaviors. It helps you define KPIs to achieve business goals faster. Data inspires creativity—ideas that will delight your audience and deepen their emotional connection.

The most successful brands and rights holders can immediately see how effectively their content, ticketing & engagement platforms, data integrations, and sponsorships perform. With social running 24 hours a day, it’s no longer just about the event, the ad spot, or placement—the most successful campaigns or interactions are ready to engage at any time of day with a global audience. Any organization that doesn’t have a source of truth or an efficient route to understanding their data is well behind. To survive, it’s imperative for brands to have effective management and measurement tools to support all their engagement marketing activities.

Data Checklist to Thrive

Optimizing your marketing and operational plans requires efficiency.  Can you accurately answer “yes” to each of these questions regarding all aspects of your portfolio—from ticketing and fan engagement to data integrations to brand/athlete/influencer partnerships?

  • Do you have a true source of truth to rely on? 
  • Have you established strong benchmarks to measure your KPIs against?  
  • Do you have a clear 30,000 ft view of how your entire portfolio is performing? 
  • Can you quickly find the answers you’re looking for in your data? 
  • Can you identify a variety of trends easily?  
Key Takeaway

If you’re spending large amounts of money on sponsorship and partnerships, you’re only getting your money’s worth if you’re also investing in solutions that help you understand the data behind your investments. Data is the deciding factor behind how much brands invest and how they negotiate deals. No matter which side of the sponsorship deal you are on, staying on top of your metrics will help you secure stronger partnerships and reach your business goals faster.   

Learn how KORE Evaluate can help you make the best data-driven decisions.  

2. The Need for Continuous Innovation & the Unknown Impact of Future Technologies

Topics such as crypto, the metaverse, and the NCAA’s name, image, likeness (NIL) rule, dominated the conference. We can’t control the future, so adjusting on the fly or trying something new is critical to remaining relevant and growing. Take Absolut Vodka for example, who collaborated with Coachella to create a popup festival in the metaverse, Decentraland, as an alternative to attending Coachella in person. The Absolut bottle-shaped digital space was packed with exclusive free virtual cocktails, games, and prizes like festival wearables for your avatar. This large-scale brand partnership in a metaverse was a brilliant move and one of the first of its kind in a space that is only just starting to take shape.

Questions for Your Team
  • How will the need for continuous innovation impact your partnerships and sponsorship tactics moving forward? 
  • With the speed of technology evolving, how will your team iterate and create new ways to engage with your audience in person and virtually?  
  • How will you measure the success of these new activations? 

Learn how KORE Activate can help you measure your activations performance and adjust quickly, for both yourself and your partner

3. Humanizing Players and Influencers: The New Consumer Engagement Model

As online social interactions continue to evolve, fandom and engagement with brands and teams are changing too. Thanks to the internet and streaming services, it’s more likely for an American to be a Premier League fan, a Californian to be a Boston Celtics fan, or a transplanted Aussie to catch all their rugby team’s matches. Fandom is no longer restricted to where you grew up or where you currently live.  It goes hand-in-hand with the influencer boom where the audience can relate on a personal level: people are becoming bigger fans of individual players and their lives instead of focusing just on their team. Fans are following their favorite players regardless of which team they’re on.

Questions for Your Team
  • What are the stats behind your players and influencers’ stories?
  • How impactful is a single influencer on social media to your brand or team?
  • How can you track their influence?
Key Takeaway

Brands and rights holders need to adjust to the new reality of personal influence. This can include training players to use their social platforms better, adjusting to more individualized endorsement deals, and learning how to share the whole person instead of just “the athlete” with their fans. Engaging with an athlete’s family content, hobbies, and personal life humanizes the athlete in the eyes of fans and builds a connection that was unattainable in recent years. Today’s audiences expect relatable, personal content—how can we track and nurture that influence? 

Embrace the future of sponsorship and learn how Hookit can help you understand the impact and value of a player’s post. 

KORE is the global leader in engagement marketing solutions, serving more than 200 professional teams and 850+ sports and entertainment properties worldwide, providing practical tools and services to harness customer data, facilitate sponsorship sales and activation, and create actionable insights.

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