The Benefits of Sports Sponsorships in the Digital Age of Visual Data

According to Crimson Hexagon, it is estimated that the global sponsorship spending for 2016 exceeded $60 billion, and in North America, 70% of that sponsorship money was spent on sports alone. We can see the impact of sports sponsorship in the case of Red Bull, a huge sports sponsor. In 2006, Red Bull bought the Metrostars, a Major League soccer team, and dubbed it “The New York Red Bulls”. Soccer in the U.S. was a sport that lacked the large following of the NFL, MLB, and NHL, but has now been gaining massive popularity among the 18 to 29-year-old demographic- a key target audience for Red Bull. In fact, Red Bull consumption is 63% higher among soccer viewers than other energy drinks. It’s evident that certain brands can benefit a huge amount from sports sponsorships and targeted advertising in stadiums. But what about the rising influence of the online and digital space? Can brands still benefit from sports sponsorships via social media platforms? And will it benefit those the brands sponsor as well as the brands themselves? Will sponsorship monitoring have to adapt to this rising influence of social media?

1. Live sport means a lot of brand exposure:

It’s obvious that big sporting events are extremely popular and gain massive worldwide attention. This is largely due to the fact that they involve both unity and competition. People become fans, coming together as they are compelled to support their team, especially when there is a competition on the cards. According to Brandwatch, Premier League games have 4.7 billion viewers (cumulative TV audience) and 212 territories of coverage around the world. The opportunities for sponsorship are exceptionally vast, and there is a wide variety in viewership demographics. The highest-grossing sport of the industry is soccer and it is clear that many brands take advantage of this. Sports sponsorship is worthwhile for brands because of the massive audience they are going to reach, resulting in a correlatively high ROI. And it’s not just soccer. Sports like surfing, skateboarding, and snowboarding have huge sponsorship potential. Snowboarding fans, for example, are twice as likely to use social media, which means great exposure for brands online.

2. Social media and sports are compatible:

2017 is expected to see more sponsorship using social, in particular, with video. Social media is rapidly becoming a popular place for streaming sports events in a few second clips. 80% of fans use social media during live sporting events, both at the actual events and at home. So not only are videos of the event appearing online after they happen, but social media users post about the sporting event in real time. This means that brands have a wider range of platforms on which to advertise as it’s not just television receiving viewers. Brands have newfound opportunities, not only to sponsor teams and individual athletes, but to sponsor social media influencers. This type of exposure could reach a whole new target audience brands hadn’t previously thought to advertise to. What about celebrity athletes? So-called “accidental” endorsements are becoming more prominent and involve a celebrity athlete using a product or service “by chance”, instantly boosting its popularity. To the general public, it appears more genuine than an outright sponsorship as it’s perceived that the celebrity actually favors the product, as opposed to being paid to appear as if they do.

In the age of social media, brands now have more platforms from which to generate new revenue opportunities. As stadiums continue to become fully connected with WiFi, HD screens, and beacon technology, teams and sponsors are now able to deepen their engagement with fans. Around 70% of spectators in stadiums use a smartphone, so the combination of smartphones, high-speed WiFi, and fans means more engagement for brands. It’s estimated that of Facebook’s 1.3 billion users, over 500 million are devout soccer fans. Not only that, but sports as a topic is the most frequently expressed interest among U.S. Twitter users, according to Brandwatch (see below). This is hugely beneficial to brands who profit from sports sponsorship, as the exposure they would receive on various social media platforms could see a substantial return on investment.

3. Sponsorship also benefits the athletes and the brand’s employees:

As well as benefiting the brands, sports sponsorship is also advantageous for the teams and the brand’s own employees. Having sponsorship funding allows athletes to focus more on the training and production of their sports and reduces stress when it comes to finding money to train and put on events. Sponsorships between brands and teams/ athletes is a partnership where both brand and team benefit. It’s a win-win scenario and exposure to social media increases the longevity of these advantages. So everyone involved in the partnership is happy! The sporting committee benefits from a direct financial input, as well as from the endorsement provided through the sponsoring brand. In return, the brand receives huge global prime exposure and exclusive revenue.

Sport sponsorship is also beneficial for the brand’s employees as it is connected very strongly with health and well being, which means the brand becomes the beneficiary of positive sentiments by association. "Working for a brand with a logo featured prominently at a high-profile event makes employees feel as though they’re employed by a place of prestige" and their own personal status is consequently elevated. Having happy employees ensures the essence of the brand is protected as they are more content with supporting a brand that demonstrates this sort of value.

4. Sponsorship monitoring makes it easy to track:

Measuring the impact of sponsorships is important, as is knowing which of your sponsorship investments are converting into influential image and video content. Sponsorship monitoring is very useful for brands when it comes to analyzing where their time should be spent for future investments. Tracking user engagement is also beneficial for brands to find and predict which social media influencers they could potentially sponsor in the future. Sponsorship deals have started to involve more influencers and less athletes or celebrities so in 2017, monitoring the impact of sponsorships is more important than ever. With such vast amounts of video and image content being uploaded and shared via social media, brands need some sort of sponsorship monitoring or tracking in order to keep up. According to Nielsen, there is also an increasing demand for evidence of ROI as follow-up and support must come through data and tracking.

But what about brand and logo detection? Another area where data is predicted to be used more effectively is logo exposure. With the improvement and advancement of technology, brands and sponsorship monitoring companies can now benefit from logo detection for sports sponsorships. Find out more about logo detection for sports sponsorship monitoring on our website.