By on March 12th, 2019

The State of Digital Sponsorships in 2019

Digital sports sponsorships help increase sponsorship revenue

Corporate sponsorship revenue continues to climb year-over-year, as brands fight to gain exclusive access to sports fans, conference and tradeshow attendees, as well as music festival goers. Total sponsorship spending is estimated to reach another all-time high of nearly 68 billion dollars world-wide in 2019 with many of the traditional activations still leading the way, such as stadium naming rights and jersey sponsorships. Most recently, Oracle purchased the naming rights to The San Francisco Giants stadium for over $200M!

Sponsorship marketshare by category in North America for 2018

So, with all of this money pouring into sports and event sponsorship, you would have to think the industry as a whole is on the cutting edge when it comes to digital sponsorships, right? Well, I think you would be surprised, seeing as the most popular sports teams and brands in the world are still struggling to leverage digital within their sponsorship relationships.

eMarketer just announced that 2019 will mark the first year where digital ad spending will surpass traditional media investments. I want you to guess what percentage of the total corporate sponsorship budget is spent on digital compared to traditional…

ONLY 3% of the total corporate sponsorship investment across the entire industry is spent on digital sponsorship advertising. Let that sink in. The rest of the marketing and advertising industry is spending over 50% on digital, whereas corporate sponsorship spending is at 3%. Something doesn’t add up, right…?

Digital sponsorship spending projections for 2019

I asked that very question to some of the largest sports sponsorship properties, event sponsorship agencies, and direct brands, and the same responses continue to surface:

“We are asked every year for 'what is new in digital' and we never really have a great answer for our sponsors…”

“Well, we have started to place our sponsors logos on our site and at the bottom of email communications. Does that count?”

“Digital is just an add-on offer in some of our proposals but it’s not a priority for us.”

Now, what I am not saying is that corporate sponsorship organizations should ditch the traditional activations at the ballpark or during the conference. The focus for brands will ALWAYS be real-time activations that engage fans and create memorable moments before, during, and after games/events. With that being said, there needs to be a greater focus on digital because we all know that is where our fans and attendees’ focus is going.

The most valuable digital asset that sports properties and event marketing teams own is their online audience. Whether it is their social media following, website visitors, or app downloaders, these engaged audiences are consuming content online at a staggering rate. There is SO MUCH online data at our fingertips that there has to be a better way for sponsors to activate online audiences through digital sponsorships, right?

Well, the industry is starting to evolve, but I feel like brands are only scratching the surface. Below are some common digital activations that we see across all levels of corporate sponsorship:

  • Logo or banner ad on the main website
  • Sponsored social media posts
  • Exclusive mobile app sponsorship

Let me ask you this: How many times do you go to your favorite sports teams’ website in a month? What percentage of your time is spent on that team’s social media profile throughout the month?

If a brand can only reach sports fans online when they go to the team’s website, they are missing out on 99% of that user’s online behavior. Digital consumers access hundreds of sites and social profiles for information, so we need to start thinking outside of the box when it comes to online activation.

The point I am trying to make is that the rest of the advertising industry is focusing their efforts on Data Management, new channels like Digital Audio & Connected TV/OTT, and more engaging online assets than a logo on a website or social post. It is time to evolve, just like the rest of the marketing and advertising industry. Brands need to be using digital advertising technology to track ROI for their digital sponsorships. Sports properties should monetize their online audience more effectively to drive exponentially more revenue through their digital channels. Conferences and trade shows need to create exclusive mobile Geofencing experiences before, during, and after events to increase brand awareness and online engagement for their sponsors.

PrograMetrix is already pushing the boundaries of what is possible for digital sponsorships. If you are looking to introduce a new digital sponsorship revenue stream and offer more cutting-edge digital activations to sponsors, let’s connect!

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