‘Measurement and evaluation’ is a term that in any area of marketing often attracts scrutiny. Whether it be traditional measures such as reach or media value or more scientific approaches that have been introduced in more recent years, marketeers have continually strived for more robust and insightful approaches to better inform their marketing decisions. Marketing is an imprecise discipline though, a blend of science and creative art, but there is still a case of ‘safety in numbers’ when it comes to justify spend in the boardroom.
At the ROI Exposed conference at The Ministry last month, we heard from brands, rights holders, agencies and technology businesses all giving their opinion on how well the sponsorship industry is performing and what actions could be taken to justify its existence as a dynamic and effective tool in the modern day CMO’s armoury.
Here are some of the key take-outs from the day.
1. Sponsorship value attribution
It is hard to attribute value to sponsorships which are traditionally engaging people a long way from the point of sale at the end of the purchase funnel. To this point, how can we effectively identify the role that a specific partnership has played in a purchase decision in the inter-connected world of omni-channel marketing? Jeremy Dale, CEO of OTRO and former brand lead at Motorola, Orange and Microsoft, argued that you must exploit sponsorship against key commercial goals, only attributing value when something specific can be tangibly measured: this is the only means by which a CMO is going to be able to identify where a specific sponsorship is delivering.
- Only set KPIs that relate directly to the sponsorship activity
- Ensure targets are commercial where possible
- Measure outcomes (behavioural change) not outputs
2. Objective setting
Luke Harper, Head of Cycling at HSBC, spoke with interest about the importance of demonstrating value to the business through setting simple measurable goals that demonstrated the power of any specific partnership. For HSBC, their core marketing challenge was to address reputational challenges faced within the banking sector. Initially, HSBC had as many as 152 KPIs (key performance indicators) laid out but through careful prioritisation and analysis these were eventually boiled down to just ten performance measure. Thanks to examination of the interaction between the KPIs, Luke learnt that those who are aware of HSBC’s objectives in cycling – to support communities and get people fit and healthy – saw a threefold increase in their perception of the brand. Objective number one therefore… increase the target audiences’ awareness of HSBC’s involvement in cycling – it directly impacts the overarching marketing objective. Moreover, this measure can be singularly attributed to the value of the sponsorship.
- Identify how KPIs interact with each other
- Less is more. Prioritise.
- Ensure your objectives are simple and clear to communicate
3. “We are doing ok”
The efforts of the sponsorship industry to measure return on investment were put into perspective by David Vincent, Head of Content and Partnerships at Mindshare. With a broader view on the varying channels across the marketing landscape, David made the point that whilst there are challenges in measuring sponsorship, we should not beat ourselves up over this.
David commented, “Sponsorship is in part creative idea and part media idea brought to life through a variety of channels. The measurement challenge is wrapped up in the challenges of the chosen communications channels. Those good at measuring marketing activity more broadly are good at measuring sponsorship activity”.
- There is still a need to ensure ‘best practice’ in sponsorship evaluation
- Integration is key - You can only measure value for brands in line with their own practices and in a ‘language’ that they understand
4. The role of brands, rights holders and agencies
There were varying points of view offered around whose responsibility it is to measure sponsorship. Some brands made the point that only they can effectively measure the impact of their marketing activities internally within their businesses, many rights holders commented that it was their obligation to provide the requisite results to their partners, and agencies argued that they offer an in-depth knowledge and expertise in this area.
Chris Marking, Head of Sponsorship Strategy at AEG Global Partnerships, made the point that the key questions here are: what is the value and to whom? Rights holders are trying to create a “a playbook for their sales teams”, brands are looking to inform decisions within their own organisations and agencies are trying to justify the use of sponsorship as a marketing practice. There was consensus amongst all guests that some common metrics and processes should be adopted, much like the Experiential Effectiveness Measurement Model, created by IPM (Institute of Promotional Marketing) to allow for greater benchmarking across the industry.
- Clear communication of objectives from all stakeholders
- Ensure clarity on who is measuring against set objectives
- Brands and rights holders will need to carry out their own research and evaluation to meet the needs and objectives of their own businesses – in some cases this will remain confidential to other parties.
5. Disruptive technologies
There is no doubt that with the vastness of data and automated processing capabilities available through various technological solutions there are opportunities to delve into data in more detail to garner insights and to understand more about how to impact customer behaviour. We heard from Dan Zaltzman at Digital Fuel Marketing who gave us a glimpse of what the future could hold. Their research suggests that AI capability to communicate with consumers on a one to one level, provides seven times more customers engagements and because of this, three times greater revenue generation.
Our view: there is no doubt that technology is going to play a critical role in creating more value for rights holders, sponsors and fans into the future. As Sam Seddon, IBM Sports and Entertainment Sponsorship lead for the UK, said, “Get ready for disruption!”.
At the end of a thought provoking day in which we discussed new technologies, opinions and approaches from varying sides of the partnerships stakeholder ecosystem, there was however one truism that ran through all our discussions:
Stakeholders must clearly define their objectives from the start of the process.
It sounds simple but what is clear, it is often not being adhered to. Once the objectives have been agreed and clearly articulated amongst all parties they can then get to work detailing the KPIs, technological measurement tools, roles and responsibilities.
If you need help and support in developing a robust and effective partnership measurement tool, please get in touch. We would be delighted to support your thinking and create a solution fit for purpose in your business.
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