Does This Sponsorship Suit My Marketing Strategy?

Evaluating and determining whether a rights holder can provide a good opportunity, in line with an approved marketing spend, is arguably one of the biggest pain points brands face in today’s market.  

Not only do they have the day-to-day challenge of executing existing strategies and campaigns, but also the ever-growing need to consider new ways of reaching and engaging with a desired audience before a competitor does. Plus, audiences consistently become more and more fragmented as new platforms come about. Tik Tok, anyone? 

This ongoing exercise constantly requires us to ask ‘Does this sponsorship suit my marketing strategy?’ That’s because, simply, sponsorship itself cannot be the marketing strategy. Instead, it needs to complement existing efforts by using different assets across various platforms to either leverage or enhance a specific message. A global spend of US $70B suggests that sponsorship as a separate marketing function is growing day by day and will continue to do so. 

As an industry, however, we’re now spending more time and resources attempting to not only justify our spend, but also find a good mix of ROI, ROO, brand alignment, value creation, and everything in-between. It’s exhausting just saying it. 

We spend hours upon hours delving through sponsorship proposals, looking for ways to either say ‘yes’ or ‘no’. The evaluation of a proposal can take a ridiculous amount of time, money, and resourcing. I won’t say who, but a Sponsorship Director, at a fairly well-known global brand, recently told me they allocate four full days per calendar month and pull in five staff just to review the proposals and respond accordingly. 

For discussion sake, if the average sponsorship or brand manager is getting $75K, that’s 60 days and just over $61K … just to work out if the sponsorship proposals are actionable! 

What to Consider

Over the past few years, we’ve spent a lot of time in this space helping brands fine tune their process to limit the amount of time, money, and resources spent trawling through countless documents, proposals, and packets of Panadol because of the growing headaches. 

Without giving rights holders too much of a roadmap to the golden ‘Yes’, here’s a few things to consider if you’re trying to work out if a sponsorship proposal suits your marketing strategy or not.

1. Your objectives

Most marketers will agree, whether agency or brand, that at some point we need to acknowledge an overarching objective or purpose for the marketing strategy. Best case scenario is that the strategy has been re-engineered in an attempt to either solve a problem, tackle an important message, or reach a specific audience. Objectives likes Brand Awareness, Community Engagement, or Lead Generation are usually steppingstones that will allow us to achieve the overall purpose. Understanding your objectives will help you get the best out of the ROI vs ROO evaluation.

2. Your approach to measurement

Before we can acknowledge the big, shiny numbers being presented as ‘value’, we need to be inherently clear on how we’re going to measure success. 

“Media equivalency in itself is not an ROI metric” – Rob Mills, Gemba & Turnstile 

On a recent episode of Inside Sponsorship, Rob Mills, Global CEO of Gemba and Turnstile, suggested that, as an industry, we may have evolved down the wrong path in how we measure sponsorship (given our heavily reliance on using media equivalency as an ROI metric). Strangely, it’s now broadly accepted that we can’t use this alone … yet we continue to do it! 

Database acquisition, brand preference, awareness, engagement, and consumption rates; there’s plenty of metrics and methods to look at along the way and not all of them will be relevant. How we say ‘yes’ to a sponsorship proposal, however, needs to be the same as how we say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to the renewal.  

3. Your audience

Typically, as part of your marketing strategy there will be two to three key avatars that you’ve built with the sole purpose of selling to, engaging, with or influencing. They might be your average customer or even target customer but, nonetheless, a considerable amount of effort has gone toward working out and learning as much about them as possible.  

When looking at the sponsorship proposal, we need ensure that whatever the rights holder is proposing either helps or improves our efforts in reaching and engaging with our avatars. Spending money on a generic audience won’t help anybody. Ask the rights holder to be specific on exactly who they feel there is alignment with or perhaps who you can reach as a direct result of their assets and audience.

4. Potential risk

Something that can be overlooked, but it still very important when initially justifying a sponsorship spend, is working out if there is any risk involved.

This might be in the form of previous behaviours, public image, propensity for negative media attention, or even correlations to competitors. 

The latter is a sore spot for brands who spend money on something that their biggest competitor can ambush quite easily and indirectly. If you can’t think of any examples you just need to look at the ongoing battles between Hungry Jacks and McDonalds.  

5. Your budget

Investment levels are usually the most awkward part of the conversation or proposal. In terms of what to spend, some will say a deal is worth what someone is willing to pay and others will have unique methods to calculate cost vs value. Nonetheless, it’s important that before we evaluate a sponsorship proposal that we’re across exactly how much we can actually spend. 

Various sales tactics will teach rights holders to delay this as much as possible in fear of pigeonholing themselves or perhaps provide a range depending on what package you choose (caveat: packaging is dead. Please stop doing it).

Don’t be put off by a proposed investment level. Obviously this needs to be within reason and, more often than not, the more you spend the more value you receive.  

If you are like most brands, big or small, you’ll be getting lots of sponsorship proposals and evaluating and determining whether a rights holder can provide you with a good opportunity, in line with your budget, is an ongoing challenge. 

Follow those steps above and I think you’ll start working through those proposals more clearly and with greater confidence.

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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Digital Marketing Insights from The Business of Sports in China

Last month, KORE’s Chairman Matt Sebal was invited to participate in a conference in Shanghai on “The Business of Sports in China: Score and Change” hosted by The European Union Chamber of Commerce in China.

Matt spoke in the panel session ‘Digital Marketing in the Sports Sector,’ which explored engagement both on and off the field. The panel shared success stories of using social and digital data to build audiences and experiential campaigns for brand activation. 


  • Bryan Bachner, Investment Director, New Economy Fund, China Everbright                            


Panel Insights:

  • In China, sports is about building community: whether it be creating teamwork; developing a fan base; encouraging national spirit; or attracting new consumers.
  • Engaging the fan to be a part of this community is step one to creating sustainability in the industry. In China, it’s a unique challenge because the traditional business model for the sports industry does not normally contemplate developing revenue from the team itself.
  • In China, the primary focus in sports management is sports, not entertainment and monetization. This traditional sports mentality is now bumping into millennial sports fans that want something more than traditional sports, they’re searching for a fuller fan experience.
  • The panel focused on how to disrupt the conventional system to create a brand new sports industry, an industry that knows what’s at stake for the fans of an overseas club at a team level; that knows how to entice the sport fan to engage with teams and sponsors; that knows what attracts fans to buy the sport-related products; and perhaps most importantly, that knows how to take the information generated by all these connections and enhance the power of each line of communication. 

Parting Thoughts: 

While it’s clear there are differing priorities for sports business professionals around the globe, there’s one constant at the center of the conversation: the fan

The fan’s experience and engagement drives the business of sports; from ticket sales and operations to sponsorship activations and onsite experiences, it’s all about the fan. Making sense of the data points generated by this engagement is an exciting challenge with a meaningful return for the industry across all areas of the business.

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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Australia Sports Tech Conference 2019: Fan Engagement is Alive and Flourishing

This August I was lucky enough to attend and co-present at the Australia Sports Tech Conference in Melbourne. It was an outstanding event, bringing together a variety of stakeholders from sport rights holders, brands, and emerging products/vendors. It was great to some of the impressive new technology and innovation for sport coming out of Australia and the event was as a perfect opportunity to bring executive, commercial, business insights, membership, high performance, and game day team members all together in one world class venue.

Looking back on the event, there were some clear takeaways for me and the rest of the KORE team that attended. 

Fan Engagement is Alive and Flourishing

Fan engagement is definitely the “hot topic” within sport rights holders and brands at the moment. The fact that this concept is so far reaching and all encompassing has meant that there are many pioneers in this space generating new ideas and rights holders are clamouring to be the best of breed when it comes to engaging with their fans. 

By showcasing the newest interactive tech, like AI or VR, and by sharing innovative way a rights holder can track and utilise fan data to enrich and personalise their experience, this event provided some outstanding examples of how the above could be implemented. 

In our session, we presented a live case study with the North Queensland Toyota Cowboys focused on this very topic, sharing how the club leveraged KORE technology to amplify their fan engagement. We took the audience through the project’s initial pain points, from data drama to lack of visibility, and explored how the club became more efficient across departments like membership, corporate hospitality, marketing/brand development, and finance, saving an average of 25 hours per week by reducing manual data entry into spreadsheets. Check out the case study for more info! 

The presentation from Sanjog Gupta at Star Sports gave great insight into how broadcasters are using content to amplify a fan’s digital experience, and KLIP Sports gave a fantastic run through of the science behind branded content and what brands and rights holders should be doing to ensure cut through. 

All in all, it was very clear that the fan is definitely front of mind for sports rights holders and the brands engaged in this space. 

Local Brands, Products, and Organisations are Inspiring at a Variety of Levels

Locally grown products and brands like Champion DataCatapult, and KangaTech are the perfect example of how Australian innovation is still shining through in a truly global market. The vendors on display in the trade section of the conference covered a huge variety of sports technology and solutions for rights holders, brands, governments, and venues. 

Gone are the days when Australian sports organisations need to look overseas for a world class solution to their membership, ticketing, high performance advantage, or data tracking pain points. Furthermore, we are starting to see international rights holders really look to Australia for a solution in these areas. You only have to look as far as KangaTech and the number if international teams that utilise this home grown technology to prevent injuries to see this shift. 

International Still Leads the Way

Not to contradict my previous takeaway, it was still very clear that we look to the US and other slightly more developed markets for case studies and inspiration across the board. One of the keynote presenters was from FC Barcelona, and the unbelievable presentation from Toni Knowlson at Amazon Web Services (AWS), highlighted our desire to hear from other international markets to either legitimise what we are doing here, or to find ways to gain an advantage over our domestic competitors. 

Collaboration is Key

The huge variety of industry professionals from all areas of a sporting organisation and the different types of stakeholders represented at the event (rights holders, brands, government, venues, vendors) allowed for the conference to enable true collaboration across the board. 

Each break out area was full of small groups networking, learning, and collaborating throughout the whole day. There was a clear vibe of collaboration present at the conference, and this is the general consensus throughout the Australian sports industry at the moment. “Rising tides lift all ships” is definitely being adhered to across different leagues and codes at the moment, and this was even more evident during our day in Melbourne. 

A day of great networking, collaborating, and learning from some of the best in the industry was what we got out of the Australia Sports Tech Conference 2019, but it is the ongoing interactions with these newfound connections and stakeholders that is the greatest reward from the event.

I can’t wait to see what other innovation comes out of the Australian sports technology market, and how we continue to grow and develop in a truly global industry. Plus, I am even more excited about playing a big role in the concept of fan engagement for our region.

Written by: Sam Irvine

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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Sponsorship Measurement and Reporting – The Fan Data Way

Sponsorship measurement is not something new. It has been part of the industry for years and led by pioneers such as Repucom, Kantar, and a number of larger agencies, all trying to find ways of overlaying a tangible ROI data set on top of sponsorship spend to justify either the ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ behind sponsorship decisions. 

Media Equivalency, QI data, the attempt to value media exposure against brand exposure time; this has been the quest of many a consultant or agency for more than a decade now. Of late though, there has been a noticeable shift in measuring sponsorships, and it is bridging the gap of rights owner’s businesses between the B2C and B2B sides of the business. 


Tracking audiences is also not new, however, the concept of tracking audience engagement, what that means to the value of IP of a specific team, and how engaged those audiences are is only something which has been possible via the development of more recent technologies. As such, it is changing the way partnerships are measured and WHO can enter the sponsorship game. 

For a long time now, sponsorship professionals have been spruiking the size of their memberships, fan base, and the basic demographics behind those. They’ve then been using that data, overlaid with general audiences, to prove value to their partners. 

Now, the advent of more advanced technology enables these rights owners to measure far deeper than ever before across consumption rates, engagement rates, and specific actions as well as by whom, when, and where. As such, it is allowing organisations with highly engaged fan bases to really construct compelling arguments around which brands, with which objectives, should sponsor them for a far more realistic ROI from the outset. 

This advancement is allowing brands to hone their objectives and how certain partnership strategies, assets, and partners can really help them achieve a ROO on their activities; thus, making decision making and reporting more structured and less speculative than ever before. 


What this means for rights owners, at all levels, and across all industries, is that providing the data and capabilities of obtaining that data are there and that means anyone can confidently enter the sponsorship space with a compelling story. 

Let me paint a picture for you: 

Copsi is a beverage brand and has the marketing objective of reaching demographics of 16-25 year old females. They are a well-known brand, so building brand awareness and exposure is not high on their set of objectives. They are struggling, however, in reaching this demographic due to previous perceptions of their brand and their drinking instance, within this demographic, is lower than they wish.

2 rights owners approach them: 

  • RO A which has an audience of 1million people, engagement and consumption rates of 10%, and limited access to IP of their athletes due to their size and EBA. They can, however, boast larger audience viewership than anyone else.
  • RH B which has an audience of 500,000 people, engagement and consumption rates of 40%, massive fan loyalty due to the unique nature of their sport, and brand ambassadors willing to give time to leverage partnerships.

Which would you choose? Someone who can give you 2x the audience or someone who can give you 2x the addressable market directly in your target range for this specific cycle of objectives? 

The above scenario, in traditional terms, only puts RH B in the game IF they know their data and their fans. Suddenly, a challenger rights owner is matching it in certain scenarios with their previously untouchable, but now, competitor. 


Previous to the modern day, commercial teams have, either by design or default, separated their B2C businesses (membership, ticketing, licensing, and marketing) from their B2B businesses (sponsorship, corporate sales, and events). 

The growing trend of BI teams, the availability of new technologies, and the increased push by brands to shift away from a predominantly logo driven approach, and into transitioning borrowed audiences to owned ones, is really shifting how everything fits together. 

Nowadays, the B2C business operations of selling tickets, memberships, and running marketing campaigns, tracking those results, feeding them into a central source of truth, and showing a consolidated view of a customer is becoming the driving force behind B2B story telling and value metrics for the reasons mentioned above. 

Suddenly, the B2C drives the B2B and the campaigns and utilisation of assets by the B2B partners in sponsorship activation is creating more engagement for the B2C. And the cycle goes on – creating a rich and unrivalled marketing channel, direct to audiences which can’t be replicated through other forms of marketing.

Thus, the current day value of sponsorship. 


What excites me is what brands can now bring to this equation. By knowing, with some degree of certainty, what markets, territories, demographics, and psychographics can be engaged by specific campaigns via sponsorship, brands, or those organisations with rich data around consumer behaviour, can start to introduce consumer data metrics to the conversation. 

Both ends of the sponsorship conversation can be predicted and measured against actual ROI in terms of hard return. Add to this the concept of lifetime loyalty and IP and you can see how the whole measurement game is facing a new frontier that can be delivered to rights owners and brands instantaneously which could lead to a whole new and exciting way of selling, delivering, and reporting against sponsorship relationships. 

This makes me so excited for what the next generation will bring to this industry!

Written by: Mark Thompson

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 Takeaways From VenuesNow 2019

Most conferences that KORE attends have a clear focus around analytics and technology as it related to ticket sales, sponsorship, and marketing, but last week through our partnership with Oak View Group, we had the chance to attend and exhibit at VenuesNow 2019. The conference focused on the facilities side of the industry, including everything from event bookings and marketing to security and operations.

The event had quite the impressive line up of speakers, and we had several really interesting conversations with attendees, so we wanted to share some of our personal takeaways with you:

MSG Sphere is a Game Changer

There’s no other way to put this except WOW. Nothing I can write here will fully express the impressiveness of what MSG and The Venetian are putting together with their new MSG Sphere venue in Las Vegas. The incredible audio and video technology being built into this arena will attempt to put other venues to shame.

Ok, the scale of the screen for the MSG Sphere is pretty impressive! #VenuesNowConference2019
— Russell Scibetti (@rscibetti) September 10, 2019

So the question for everyone else is, how does this affect customer expectations? One venue alone may not impact the market, but we know that typically advancements start in one place and others look to follow. If this is just the beginning, we can’t wait to see what’s next!

Concert Pricing is Undergoing Major Change

There was a great discussion panel on dynamic pricing with specific emphasis on the concert and live event space. in this area, there are conflicting forces between revenue optimization, achieving sellout quickly, and public perception of the artist. As a result, there have historically been very few price levels, in turn creating huge arbitrage opportunities for resellers.

Artists, promoters, and venues are tackling those challenges with more segmented pricing (though not as many as in sports) and by leveraging dynamic pricing models, which is becoming a more common approach.

One other interesting takeaway that led to some Twitter back and forth was this note from Andy Rentmeester of LaneOne

The secondary market buyer is more likely to be the actual live concert attendee than the primary market buyer. Listing seats direct on secondary can get tickets directly to more fans. #VenuesNowConference2019
— Russell Scibetti (@rscibetti) September 10, 2019

When you think about it, it does makes sense. Primary sales happen so early and draw more of the reseller audience, that a secondary buyer is now more likely to be the actual attendee vs. a primary buyer! 

Personalization in Partnerships

While this was a venue-centric event, sponsorship strategy was a common topic throughout various sessions. Sponsorships have a tremendous impact in facility design from hospitality spaces and seating areas to digital signage and concourse/plaza elements.

Making changes to the venue typically comes with a significant hard cost, but with the variety of fan segments coming to the building it’s critical to think about how spaces can be personalized:

Definite theme in the last session around the need for personalization in activation along with building spaces that resonate with the variety of audiences attending games. Have to know your fans and your assets! #VenuesNowConference2019 #sportsbiz #sponsorship
— KORE Software (@KOREsoftware) September 10, 2019

This continues to emphasize the importance of knowing your audience! You need to make sure all data feeds – ticketing, demographics, merchandise, food & beverage – are being looked at and used to develop a sound fan profile and segmentation strategy.

Finally you want to match those profiles to your assets (or create new ones!) that make the most sense for your facility and your partner. This is where the collaboration between sponsorship sales and insights can have the biggest impact! 

Pushing Boundaries 

Al Guido of the San Francisco 49ers and Elevate Sports (and the KORE Board of Directors) did a one-on-one with Don Muret of VenuesNow talking about many elements of the fan experience and venues of the future. Towards the end, he shared this thought:

“We’re testing the boundaries of what the future of guest experience will be.” Flip the old benchmarks on their head and experiment with what we can create when building out new venue spaces. @AlGuido at @Venues_Now #VenuesNowConference2019 #sportsbiz
— Russell Scibetti (@rscibetti) September 10, 2019

Benchmarking is an important topic – it can deliver great benefit as you can’t measure success or failure without a target. Al is spot on however, that benchmarks can also become stale and you need to question if a metric that is “the standard” is actually now holding you back. 

Adam Silver on Mentorship

This was probably my favorite insight from the event – it has little to do with sport, but everything to do with people:

From Adam Silver on learning from Donald Stern (paraphrased as part of a story on the decision to ban Donald Sterling): Good advice is less about telling someone what to do but giving them a good process to follow. #VenuesNowConference2019 #sportsbiz
— Russell Scibetti (@rscibetti) September 10, 2019

Mentorship is really important in this industry because of how small and interconnected it is, so having the right mentor who can help you develop your own process in analyzing a situation and making sound decisions can really impact your career trajectory. Clearly David Stern was critical to Adam Silver‘s path to the Commissioner’s seat, but the parallel can and should apply to all of us on our own paths.

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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Is Sponsorship worth it if we don’t need the branding play?

Sponsorship, as a part of broader marketing strategy, is becoming increasingly effective as a method of reaching specific and targeted audiences than ever before. 

As a function, it provides marketers an opportunity to identify challenges or growth areas and re-engineer solutions to meet certain objectives. It can be treated as a great media buy, opportunity for engagement, or even a tool to enhance association. Regardless of the objectives, sponsorship provides brands with an amazing platform for exposure and awareness.

In doing so, we, as an industry, have access to a ridiculous amount of assets that can be used to across almost every facet of marketing – influencers, PR, naming rights, digital, social, TV, activations, audio … you get the picture. 

As the number of assets we can access continues to grow, so too does the global sponsorship spend. With steady increases year-on-year, 2019 is predicted to top US $70B. When we look at who is typically spending the bigger portions of that figure, it’s our usual culprits – PepsiCo, AbinBev, Coca-Cola, Nike, Toyota, etc. 

The world, however, already knows who they are and the world already buys their products. We see and engage with them pretty much everywhere. So, why do they keep spending on sponsorship? Is sponsorship worth it if they don’t need the branding play?

Short answer, absolutely! 

The reason we know so much about our usual culprits is for those exact reasons. They spend imense amounts of time, resources, and money so that consumers can interact and build relationships with them. 

There are plenty of ways we can explain why sponsorship is important to brands who don’t necessarily need to be seen, however, I want to focus on three keys areas; Engagement, Scale, and Storytelling.

1. Engagement

As well as on-site activations, public relations, and hospitality, the assets of digital and social media are fast becoming the most popular vehicles for engagement-based spending in sponsorship. Each require active participation from the end consumer for the asset to be successful, however, they also allow a brand to extend its reach and positively impact consumers’ brand affinity and overall effectiveness of a campaign. 

On face value, these types of assets don’t fall into the typical ‘branding’ basket. However, not only do each of them play a role towards enhancing an overall experience, they also allow a brand to really drive home its business-to-consumer effectiveness. 

Given that sponsor recall is affected by duration of exposure, engagement via the sponsorship assets mentioned previously allows a brand to extend this duration to a specific audience throughout a season or term.

2. Scale

One thing sponsorship has over it’s traditional marketing asset rivals is its ability to scale a branded message. Whether they’re big spenders, or just dipping their toes in the water, the level of brand association and impacts on consideration, that sponsorship can achieve for a brand, are unrivalled. 

Social and digital media have fast become prominent assets to scale a message. Influencers, viral content, and the continued use of hashtags allow branded messages to break the ceiling in terms of exposure.

The beauty of scale is that it can be controlled and uncontrolled. 

Controlled scale allows brands to target audiences via geography or other demographics, such as age or sex, by using data to segment where and who their messages go to. Brands are able to access this data from their own databases or perhaps even their rights holders’ databases. 

Pulling in multiple data sources, like social vs digital vs geography, can specifically focus on who and where they want to target at a specific time (rather than running blanket advertising). Targeting and re-targeting have become amazing tools for brands and agencies to continue speaking directly to their audience without wasting efforts or resources in other areas. 

Uncontrolled, on the other hand, can be about encouraging and letting content go viral … watching it fly – remember the Fiji Water girl at the Oscars?

3. Stories

Remember the cheesy line “People don’t buy products, they buy brands”? Well, it’s actually a thing. 

A myriad of new OTT broadcasters, the rise in popularity of influencers, and the multitude of ways information can now be shared, are all impacting the way we interpret a brand’s message. Time for stories to shine. 

Storytelling allows a brand to bypass other typical advertising methods to create a genuine connection with a consumer. As such, because of its huge array of asset types, sponsorship has become an increasingly effective medium to tell a branded story. 

Think about our usual culprits again. The reason we continue to engage and purchase from these brands is because of the way they create an emotional connection with us; something that is simply much deeper than a TV print ad on page 6. 

Whilst branded content and sponsorship have always allowed brands to become a more intrinsic part of fan and audience engagement, as audiences become tech savvy ad-blockers, and the advertising and media worlds continue to shift, sponsorship will become and even more important vehicle in the years to come.
– Mark Thompson, KORE Software 

For brands using sponsorship, storytelling allows them to create an authentic and ongoing narrative about their products; marketers will appreciate that there is a beautiful subtleness to it. 

The reason branded stories are so successful in sponsorship is because of the emotional connection it helps brands create with consumers. Emotional interaction is vital in moving an audience’s relationship with the sponsorship from observational to transactional. 

Identifying with customers through our partnership activations is only possible through clear and concise storytelling. It’s vital not only because we speak to millions of people each day, but because of the growing number of ways they interact with our brand.
– Sven Gllor, HSBC

Successful sponsorship doesn’t just have to be about branding. There are literally stacks of assets that can be just as useful, if not more effective. Feeding the right message, to the right audience, in the right way will always guarantee results … and sponsorship is an incredible avenue to follow that pathway.

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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Six Sponsorship Activation Lessons from The Northern Trust

This past weekend I had the chance to attend The Northern Trust PGA TOUR event in Jersey City, and as I am prone to do, I couldn’t help keeping track of the sponsor activations taking place. Some were more effective than others, and each brand definitely had different goals for their sponsorship assets. This is why it’s so critical for each of them to really understand the full scope of their assets and make sure they are all utilized appropriately

Looking back at my experience, here are six key concepts from the most effective brand activations that really resonated with me:

1. Participation

When at a golf tournament, play golf! There were a LOT of putting contests, which came as no surprise – make the put and win a prize! Bonobos nicely integrated their multi-colored putting green with displays of apparel worn by the pros. 

Several booths tried to put different spins on their games, my favorite of which was a skee-ball style chipping contest, which seemed like a perfect fit for the event given New Jersey’s love affair with skee-ball. United even had the option to get your swing analyzed (more on that later). Whatever sport you are activating at, use that as the basis for fan participation and it will definitely drive more traffic to your location!

2. Swag

Sometimes swag can get a bad wrap, but that’s only when it’s executed poorly. I saw some solid giveaway items around the course, including golf balls, cooling towels, and sunglasses, all of which were quite appropriate for this event. There were still a handful of random koozies and keychains that will mostly end up in the trash, unfortunately. If you’re going to do a giveaway, don’t make it an afterthought – invest a little more, identify the right fit, and get people excited about your swag.

3. Health

When you expect to spend hours outside in the sun in August, you better be prepared with sunscreen, but it does wear off and many people simply forget altogether. This is where the event’s health partner, MD Anderson Cancer Center, steps in with sunscreen available in countless locations throughout the course. I particularly liked their topical branding around “There are no mulligans for your skin” to really emphasize the importance. If health is part of your brand focus, finding a way to help support the health of the guest in attendance is a perfect plan.

4. Hospitality

I couldn’t keep track of the number of sponsored hospitality areas across the course. Some were open to the public, some were open to all brand customers (e.g. MasterCard cardholders), and of course, plenty more were credentials-only access. I was able to pop into a couple, and each was clean and well catered with plenty to drink, including specialty drinks unique to the event. For a large outdoor event like this, having indoor (i.e. air-conditioned), catered hospitality is a must.

5. Giving Back

You can never go wrong using some aspect of your on-site activation to give back to the community. I saw this done very well by United Rentals with their Birdies for the Brave Patriots’ Outpost – a special access hospitality area for the military and veterans. 

They even provided a private viewing area right next to the green for any combat wounded attendees. 

If you have a particular charity partner or initiative that is important to your brand, think about the best way you can make it an organic part of your activation efforts.

6. Data

You didn’t think we were going to skip our favorite topic, did you? 

Almost every main on-site activation contained a fan data collection component. The most common approach was an opt-in form before a fan could participate in that booth’s specific contest. On this note, I’d like to give GEICO an extra plug – their form provided explicit opt-ins for receiving future communications which defaulted to no. Yes, this means they have less people to email today, but the ones that said yes will be much more engaged and likely to transact. 

Another approach I liked was Avis. My colleague was looking to pop into one of the many hospitality tents (see item 4 above), and noticed that Avis was providing access to anyone who downloaded their mobile app. Clearly this was a key objective for their partnership, and providing hospitality was an enticing way to encourage downloads. 

Closing Thought:

My favorite overall activation of the event was by United. They really nailed both the participation and data collection elements, and it showed based on the active line they had whenever I walked by. Rather than a basic putting green, they offered a complimentary video analysis of your golf swing. Now this will not resonate with all attendees, but that’s actually a good thing. Their platform was focused around golf-centric vacation travelers, so for this audience, the value proposition of a swing analysis is quite high! 

Now I expected the video to be run through some automated package, but in just over 24 hours, I got this video back in my email with a real human feedback and digital annotations (yes, you can make fun of my swing if you like!).

Whether you are on the property or brand side of a sponsorship deal, hopefully some of these concepts can help as you brainstorm the design of your next on-site activations.  

Update: Just got my first Bonobos email based on my opt-in at their activation. It was well personalized based on the event and had a good offer and call to action.

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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A Business Metrics Preview for the 2019-20 Premier League Season

With the 2019-20 Premier League season right around the corner, we thought we’d explore some key metrics across the member clubs around social, attendance, and revenue. 

Besides just comparing club to club we also looked at the league level and how the Premier League compares to the top five major leagues across North America. 

Since we love to aggregate data to generate interactive insights here at KORE, we put together the Tableau Public dashboard below so you can pick from any of the metrics we were able to find through our research and see how the clubs and league compare vs. each other and against the average. 

Here are a few interesting items of note that we found as we worked on this:

  • The Premier League dominates when it comes to league following on Facebook, but the NBA and NFL are quite comparable or even ahead when it comes to Instagram and Twitter.
  • Among clubs, Manchester United is in a tier of their own with their 73M+ Facebook followers, while Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, and Manchester City make up a 2nd tier hovering between 35M and 45M.
  • The NFL is the attendance king based on their stadium sizes and limited number of games, while the Premier League leads all other US leagues on average attendance per game/match.
  • The average price for Premier League tickets is on the lower end of the spectrum, comparable to MLB and MLS, but when you look at the clubs, Arsenal and Tottenham are the most expensive ticket any way you look at it.
  • Commercial revenue splits into two tiers across Premier League clubs, with six clubs generating over £100M (two of which are over £200M) and the remaining 10 generating well under £50M.
  • Those same six clubs are also lead the league on matchday revenue, but there is much more variance across all clubs.
  • MLB has been in the news for attendance challenges, but at the league level comes in 2nd only to the NFL when it comes to revenue generation.
  • The NFL gets a lot of publicity for franchise values, and while they may have more teams valued over $1B than other leagues, the top teams in the NBA, MLB, and the Premier League are all close to or over $4B in value.
  • Finally, even in a season where they won the Champions League, Liverpool provided some of the most affordable single match tickets, more than 50% less than Wolverhampton and West Ham. 

Jump into the data below and you may find some of your own interesting takeaways!

References for all public data used can be found on the “References” tab in the embedded Tableau workbook.

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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Is Sponsorship Keeping Up With Award Winning Trends?

Like most of my generation, the first thing I usually do in the morning is roll over, reach for my phone, and mindlessly scroll through the social feeds – Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc. As I scroll, my attention is fixated on the small viral pieces of content, usually in video format, that are doing the rounds.

There’s a ton of research that suggests I’m not alone and, as such, that this is where the rest of society’s attention is as well. 

This also happens to be the goldmine where brands are spending an ever-growing amount of resources attempting to communicate with us. They put themselves squarely where our attention is, engage us, and run with new and exciting trends to ensure we stay interested in their message for as long as possible.

With sponsorship now solidified as a powerful weapon in the marketing strategy artillery, it needs to be flexible and adaptable enough to keep up with these trends or changes in overall strategy.

A few weeks ago, I enjoyed a briefing from Ben Hartman, Octagon’s APAC MD, as we delved into what it takes to deliver an award-winning campaign at Cannes. As Ben spoke, I couldn’t help myself and compare what the vast majority of sponsorship deals look like in comparison to what I was seeing presented at #CannesLions2019.

It got me thinking: “Is the sponsorship industry keeping up with award winning marketing trends?” In pondering the question, I realised the actual question we really need to be asking is: “Are our sponsorship deals flexible enough to adapt to change?”

If we are to be flexible enough to adapt to change, we really need to focus on three key areas.

1. Audience Targeting and Distribution Strategy

When we build a sponsorship deal, its purpose is simple – help the brand deliver a message to a specific audience that they otherwise don’t have access to or can’t access easily. If it’s a good deal, it will also help the brand achieve some of its objectives or challenges as well.

However, it’s how we’re delivering that message, and who we’re delivering it to, that needs some serious updating; the hype around targeting and re-targeting is real!

Being able to target a specific audience and deliver a specific message at a specific time, just for that group of people, is where a lot of attention needs to be for both rights holders and brands.

We can no longer just rely on building a digital campaign that sits on the team website for two weeks and report focus on web traffic and click-throughs. If that’s all brands wanted to do they could simply pump the sponsorship spend into Facebook and Google Ads.

The award-winning campaigns we saw at #CannesLions2019 are those that are elevated through their use of targeting methods and use of insights or data. The teams behind these campaigns were asking themselves: “Who are we talking to, how are we talking to them, and is it working?”

If you haven’t started thinking about audience targeting, or how your delivery a sponsored message, start with the basics – Who, What, When, Where, How, and Why.

2. Brand Integration

How many sponsorship deals can you think of that look forced?

If you are like me, you probably easily thought of a lot. That’s a problem. Sponsorship is in a period where brands are fast becoming integrated with how fans are consuming sport and entertainment.

Brand integration isn’t new, and it doesn’t have to be overly sophisticated, but it’s often overlooked when rights holders aren’t flexible in how they deliver the sponsorship.

Because of the multitude of ways we now consume things, the proliferation of audience targeting has created a big shift towards an omni-channel approach to sponsorship delivery. This being where a brand’s message is delivered across multiple platforms in a format and tone specific to that platform.

For inspiration, think Marriott Bonvoy and Manchester United, or even perhaps something simpler like the AFL’s Telstra 50m; you literally have to say the brand’s name as part of the sentence.

The message here is ‘Don’t logo slap’. Instead, bring the brand into what you want to achieve with the asset and come up with something creative. Find a way to make their imagery part of the visual journey and overall experience.

3. Execution

Traditionally, customers went to the brand and, as a marketer, you knew how to deliver the message and what to expect when it happened. Now, brands look for customers in their spaces and look to take advantage of whatever trends are most prolific.

Trends can be really hard to grab hold of in sponsorship because of how they disappear just as quickly as they appear. A good example is PaddyPower’s recent work. They took full advantage of the virality with their sponsorship of Huddersfield Town. In an incredibly cluttered market, with a fairly simple execution, they were able to flood countless social feeds with an amazing PR stunt linked to something meaningful. 

Don’t wait for half-yearly or end of year reviews to discuss and explore strategies around how to deliver your sponsorship effectively. Instead, bring your brands and agencies into the conversation and work together. 

After all, their jobs are literally to stay on top of these trends to ensure they can speak to an audience.

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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Trends and Insights from SEAT 2019

Last week I had the chance to attend my 9th SEAT Conference (or 11th, if you count the 2 I attended in London). KORE has been the lead sponsor for the Data, BI, and CRM track at SEAT since 2015 and it’s always a great event for us to catch up with many of our customers who work in analytics roles and learn from our industry peers.

There were too many sessions, case studies, and side conversations going on last week to possibly keep track of all the insights and tactics discussed, but here are a few that really stuck with me:

1. Take Care of Yourself

I’m starting with one that seems off-topic, but the more it was discussed in multiple sessions, the more relevant and impactful it became. Right out of the gate there was a focus led by Jesper Nyholm, CEO of 7peaks, and echoed by several others, around the importance of health, sleep, and general self-care, both physical and mental.

The sports industry likes to take pride in how hard we work, how many events we’re at, how lean our departments are, and how much we still find a way to accomplish. However, this can take a significant toll on us as people. This conference really emphasizes community, so spending time reminding everyone that we’re not super-human and need to prioritize our own well being alongside our work was an important message. 

Health & Wellbeing at #seatdaytona @SEATconference Please help us promote this topic by sharing the #peakingpower from your team/venue/organization. How are you converting sport knowledge to healthy empowerment?
— Nyholmdk (@Nyholmdk) July 15, 2019

2. BI’s Expanded Role in Digital

There are some data sources that everyone is more used to working with such as ticket sales, sponsorship, point of sale, and email to name a few. More and more though, it’s the digital and social platforms such as Google Analytics, Omniture, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram that are impacting so much of the day to day business across multiple departments. Our digital teams are used to living in these systems, but now the key is breaking down that new digital silo and integrating those feeds and insights into the rest of the organization’s data ecosystem.

Doing this opens up a tremendous amount of opportunity. In our session “The Role of BI in Digital and Social Analytics”, we dug into this topic through case studies with the Minnesota Wild, San Antonio Spurs, and Facebook. Both the Wild and Spurs now have social and digital feeds integrated into their data warehouse for more accurate revenue attribution reports, tracking the value of partner branded content, and providing rich feedback to their creative teams to learn what drives engagement across different subsets of the fan base. The Spurs have also dug deep into aligning content across social channels with different fan personas. Finally Facebook showed us how repeat visitors and longer video consumption drove greater reach for organic content, which also gives the analyst team important new metrics to monitor.

Keep an eye out here in the coming weeks for a deeper-dive tip sheet from this session!

3. Don’t Just Integrate Data, Integrate Staff

Bjorn Kadlec from the Minnesota Wild said it best…

“You don’t want to keep 12 data nerds locked down in the basement.” Funny take on the importance of making sure BI staff are well integrated into the organization. #seatdaytona
— Russell Scibetti (@rscibetti) July 16, 2019

Business intelligence is as much about communication as it is analysis. The best analysts in the world cannot help your organization if either they cannot communicate their insights or if the organization isn’t structured in a way where people can and will listen. 

I loved this subsequent response to Bjorn’s comment by Amanda Cifu at the Florida Panthers:

Our #FlaPanthers BI team is right in the mix of the open office floor. I love sitting next to the “nerds” 😂👏🏼
— Amanda Cifu (@AmandaCfew) July 17, 2019

That’s the way to do it. The department itself can be centralized (and I do believe that’s the best model for the org chart – others may disagree, but we can save that debate for a future post), but even if the BI resources tie up to one department, the staff can be collocated into various parts of the organization to stay well connected to the day to day business and their main functional priorities.

Want some more tips on building a successful BI department? Download our recent whitepaper on the topic!

4. Design and Accessibility Drives Results

I thought the session led by Danielle Brown of the Oklahoma City Thunder, Bobbie Walker of the Utah Jazz, and Jimmy Steinmetz of Interworks was instantly actionable. We are all in the data visualization business – we need these tools to help the data come to life in a way that our end users can understand. As a result, any improvement we can make in how reports are designed can lead to more adoption and ultimately better decision making through data.

Danielle showed how taking a self-service approach to key dashboards can empower staff to answer their own questions, drive organizational curiosity, and result in deeper insights being shared with current and prospective partners. Bobbie showed how the Jazz have made key dashboards visible to stakeholders on screens across the entire office to drive transparency and adoption. Finally, Jimmy went through a great checklist on how to take a seemingly finished dashboard and with a few simple tweaks, make the KPIs leap off the screen. Here’s the checklist he used to guide this design improvement process:

Great UI design checklist for Tableau (or any viz tool) dashboard design by @interworks. #seatdaytona #dataviz
— Russell Scibetti (@rscibetti) July 16, 2019

5. Process Optimization Never Stops

The first full day ended with closed-door round table discussions, a staple of SEAT with open, peer-to-peer collaboration around any number of topics. My particular table ended up digging into a number of challenges around lead qualification, sales psychology, CRM workflows, and more, but if I had to connect it all to one main theme it would be that we still have many ways we can continue to optimize our sales process.

There are many internal processes, interconnected systems, and data points that all need to be aligned to truly maximize our investment in these platforms. Something as simple as easier objection tracking, better timing on lead distribution, or workflows that make sure data appears in the right location can have a major impact on performance.


Here are some final thoughts and footnotes…

Big points to Jeff Douglas from Levy who managed to use Harry Potter, Severus Snape, and the Dark Arts in a fun metaphor for the balance between institutional knowledge and analytics.

I never expected to get a Harry Potter-themed metaphor in an analytics presentation at #SEATDaytona, but I love it! #darkarts #snape
— Russell Scibetti (@rscibetti) July 16, 2019

There was an interesting dialogue between Paul Greenberg and Jonathan Becher on the use of the term customer in sports. While standard in most other industries, it implies a transaction and we have many fans that either don’t transact or maybe more importantly, don’t want to think of being a season ticket member as a transaction.

Interesting discussion on if the term customer implies too much of a financial/transactional relationship. It’s not inherently negative, it does imply a relationship, but in sports we also have the option to use fan, attendee or member. #seatdaytona #sportsbiz
— Russell Scibetti (@rscibetti) July 15, 2019

Turns out Daytona, Florida in July is a “little” hot but it didn’t stop folks from enjoying some hot laps around the racetrack to start the conference. I think Lenny Goh from Tradable Bits summed it up best with his take on the SEAT 2019 logo:

Who else didn’t pack enough shirts? ☀️ 😅 #seatdaytona #sweatdaytona
— Lenny Goh (@lennygoh) July 16, 2019

We’ll see you at SEAT 2020, and thanks again to my great panelists below: Rosina Lanson (Facebook), Bjorn Kadlec (Minnesota Wild) and Jordan Kolosey (Sports Sports & Entertainment).

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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